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1932 Epiphone Masterbilt Deluxe
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Serial #: 5529, gold oval "Art Instruments" label
Body size at lower bout: 16 1/2". Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16"
Finish: Sunburst finish, nitrocellulose type
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid Adirondack spruce top; solid handcarved blister maple back, neck and sides; Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with segmented cloud inlay; ornate vine peghead inlay with scribed banner insets; bound fingerboard and peghead; checkerboard pattern body binding.
Hardware: Original hardware includes engraved Epiphone Masterbilt gold over-under tailpiece, gold open back tuners, adjustable compensated ebony bridge with bone saddle. Vintage correct hand antiqued grained ivoroid pickguard.
Notes: Introduced in this model year, the Epiphone Masterbilt Deluxe was the fanciest, most powerful archtop guitar of its day. The extravagant pearl inlay of the Deluxe made the rival L-5 look drab by contrast. But the secret weapon of Epi's top-of-the line guitar was its uniquely penetrating voice, a result of a dramatic technical innovation. While Gibson stuck with the short scale neck of the 1922 L-5 for over a decade, Epi pioneered the modern long scale 25 1/2" fingerboard, giving it's guitars the projection required to cut through the new bigger bands.
Therefore, we are particularly pleased to present Deluxe #5529, from the very first year of production. Earlier than any listed in the Fisch and Fred index, this guitar is unquestionably one of the very first handful of examples of the Masterbilt Deluxe ever produced.
As befits an instrument of its pioneering status, Deluxe #5529 exhibits prototype features unknown in any later examples we have seen. The top binding is configured in a checkerboard pattern, an earlier (and previously undocumented) pattern, in contrast to the typical 'rope' binding found on 16" Deluxes. Similarly, the pickguard support bracket is squared off at the tip, and attaches to the guard with a tapped hole, like early Vegas. The original adjustable ebony bridge has a bone insert, running the length of the saddle, another unique feature. Most distinctive however, is the gold over/under tailpiece, which is hand engraved on the retainer with the words "Epiphone Masterbilt" in a graceful script, a delightful ornament we have seen on no other Epiphone instrument of any kind.
Supplied by the family of the original owner, the instrument has been maintained in excellent condition, and shows no pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear. The back centerseam has been immaculately resealed at top and bottom, and apart from a soundly closed 1/2" dryness crack at the back treble waist, shows no cracks in the soundboard, neck or body. The headstock shows the ornate three banner Masterbilt logo, with a small tip of pearl replaced long ago, and the back of the head remains fitted with its original black bakelite facing and original gold open back tuners.
The soundboard has the segmented f-holes in a top of fine grained Adirondack spruce, and still shows older checking, all protected beneath a light dusting of vintage style nitrocellulose lacquer applied to the instrument as a whole. The 1 11/16" ebony fingerboard displays the variegated pearl inlays found on the earliest examples, with smooth low action over fresh pro fretwork, and a gentle medium D profile neck that is exceptionally comfortable in the hand. Completing the package is a vintage correct, hand antiqued pickguard of thick grained ivoroid, from an original template in our archives. The voice is clear, balanced and notably powerful, with parallel bracing and the long 25 1/2" scale lending brilliant projection and cutting power. The rarest of finds, an instrument of unique historical, musical, and aesthetic value alike: the dawn of the modern archtop guitar.
Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridgewheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings (.013-.057). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
Case: Deluxe brown Epiphone plush lined arched hardshell case.
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