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 1935 Epiphone Melody Masterbilt Tenor

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Serial #: 8069, New York Masterbilt label

Body size at lower bout: 13 1/2" Scale length: 22 3/4" Nut width: 1 5/32"

Finish: Original sunburst finish, nitrocellulose lacquer type

Materials: Hand carved solid spruce top; arched black walnut back and sides; 3-piece mahogany neck; Brazilian rosewood fingerboard; single-bound body, solid bone nut.

Hardware: Original hardware includes nickel trapeze tailpiece; nickel open back three-on-a-plate tuners with ivoroid buttons, original adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge.Vintage correct contoured bakelite pickguard.

Notes: Throughout the Roaring 20's, the tenor banjo had been synonymous with the hot bands of the Jazz Age. But by the end of the decade, improvements in recording technology and changing musical styles led to the widespread adoption of the archtop guitar in the rhythm sections of the Big Band era. Warmer in tone than its banjo counterpart, the tenor guitar's identical tuning made a convenient transition for many former banjoists into four-beat Swing.

Epiphone had been a leading banjo manufacturer, and by 1932 introduced a line of tenor guitars, in parallel to their roster of archtop guitars. In that debut lineup, the Melody was the tenor version of Epi's popular Zenith model guitar. Small production and Depression era budgets made Epi tenors exceedingly rare, indeed, this is the first Epi tenor we have yet had the pleasure to offer.

Built in 1935, this guitar would have been one of the last with the three piece segmented f-holes of the earliest Masterbilt Epi archtops. Well maintained, the instrument shows no cracks, and has all original finish and binding, both in fine condition. Hardware is original as well, with the addition of a vintage correct bakelite pickguard in the original style. Playwear is fairly light for an instrument of its vintage, with most wear confined to the back and sides. Smooth low action over fine original frets, comfy gentle C neck profile, and a clear, brilliant acoustic voice with powerful volume and cutting power.

By 1937, the Melody was renamed the Zenith Tenor, which remained in production until 1956. Tenor virtuoso Howard Elkins of the Jim Cullum Jazz Band gigs regularly with his Zenith tenor, which may be seen here.)

An exceptionally rare find from the heyday of the red hot plectrists. One only: call now.

Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished as required; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted as required; 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 phosphor bronze strings. 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 arched plush lined hardshell case.
































































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