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1935 Epiphone Broadway Masterbilt
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Serial #: 8484, white Long Island label.
Body size at lower bout: 16 1/2" Scale length: 25 1/2". Nut width: 1 9/16" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .87/1.05
Materials: Hand carved solid Adirondack spruce top; solid bookmatched black walnut back and sides; 5 piece mahogany neck with maple centerstripes; solid rosewood fingerboard with block mother of pearl inlay; triple-bound body; bound neck.
Hardware: Original gold trapeze tailpiece. Vintage style hardware includes aged gold Gotoh 16:1 Sta-Tite style tuners, contoured dark tortoise pickguard, compensated adjustable ebony bridge.
Notes: If you're one of the lucky owners of a prewar Martin, you might have wondered what an archtop might sound like if it too was made of Brazilian Rosewood. But because of the cost, weight and difficulty in working this exotic hardwood, rosewood has never been commonly used on archtop guitars. However, between 1931 and 1939, the Epiphone Company, alone among major builders, produced it's upscale Broadway model with back and sides of solid black walnut.
The result was a guitar with unusually attractive looks, but more. The voice of these unique guitars is absolutely unique among acoustic jazz guitars. The hard, thin walnut back and sides produce a tone that is distinctly more brilliant than ordinary maple guitars. The mids and highs have exceptional projection and a brilliant bell-like tone, making these guitars particularly well suited for acoustic lead guitar. And with a hand carved Adirondack spruce soundboard, the cutting power on these instruments is simply phenomenal, with the warmth and sustain of finely aged wood.
This rare transitional design is seen only in part of this model year, and is one of the last with the original 16 1/2" body, and asymmetrical Masterbilt headstock. Unlike previous models, the f-holes are one piece, and by the end of the year, the Broadway had been upsized to 17 1/2" with the cello-style soundholes sunstantially enlarged.
This fine example from early 1935 features a solid Adirondack spruce soundboard and handsomely figured black walnut back and sides. Maintained in gleaming condition, the instrument is free of pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear. The handsome dark sunburst shows some light scattered age checking, now protected with a light clear lacquer overspray. The original gold trapeze tailpiece remains fitted to the guitar, and is solid at the bend. The aged gold Gotoh 16:1 tuners are our favorites, smooth and accurate, with a vintage correct thick dark tortoise pickguard installed as well. The original multi-ply binding is tight to the body, the neck angle is excellent, and the compensated ebony bridge offers abundant clearance for adjustment in either direction.
At a mere 4lb 14oz, the instrument is phenomenally light in weight, a key to its remarkable acoustic resonance. The voice is open, bright, and clear, with excellent balance, dynamic range, and brilliant projection: one of our favorite models for acoustic lead playing, and work in larger ensembles. Finally, the neck has a particularly slim, gentle C profile, ideal for the player unwilling to wrestle a typical bulky prewar contour. With fine recent pro fretwork and binding, the fingerboard has smooth low action over a fresh high precision setup, all nestled in its deluxe black Epiphone logo plush lined hardshell case.
A fine example of a rare, highly playable, and exceptional sounding instrument, and one of our favorite acoustic archtops ever. One only: call now.
Setup: 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-.056). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" 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.