1931 Paramount Style L (Martin-made) Resonator-Back Tenor Guitar

Lange, the famous banjo maker (responsible for Paramount and Orpheum instruments) from New York contracted Martin to build some Paramount-branded guitars in this odd style in the early '30s. There were several iterations of the design (the first one with some deep-walled resonator sides but most in this shape) and originally this guitar would have had no soundhole in the top. Someone cut that later.

There's no secondary "back" on this instrument as you might expect with the wider, "resonator" edge body design. It's simply got a thin, wider, back protrusion with a plethora of mini-soundholes fit to it. We tested the instrument with the "big soundhole" covered-up to see what it would sound like "as original" and when that was done, it just sounded slightly bassier. It actually... I hate to say it... sounds a little more forward, open, and punchy with the extra soundhole.

At any rate, it's a gorgeous instrument -- Brazilian rosewood back and sides, spruce top, fancy multi-ply binding and trim throughout, and of course that "Lange-style" headstock veneer. Work was light -- just a fret level/dress and setup -- but it definitely plays and sounds a lot better with the work done. The neck had a bit of an upbow but we ameliorated that through the fretwork and so now it's playing spot-on.

Replacement bits on this include -- two plugged mini-soundholes, modern Waverly banjo pegs at the headstock, and a later Kluson-style tailpiece. Someone foolishly added the extra soundhole and created a "puck" of sanded-down finish under the bridge. Weird, huh?

The original clamped-on pickguard is in the guitar's case but we removed it as it had been recut strangely for whatever old modifications had been done to the instrument and the whole thing was more aesthetically-pleasing without it.

The top is ladder-braced but overall the thing sounds and plays like a Martin -- it has the usual "sweetened-mids" and sort-of sounds like a warmer, fatter-sounding version of one of their carved-top archtop guitars built around the same time. I like it a lot, to be honest, and the GDAE tuning we put it in suits it greatly.


Elasticman said…
from the rear it looks like a Harmony 1260