1930s May-Bell

ACOUSTIC GUITAR
$2995 CAD ($2306.15 USD)
May-Bell is the brand name trademarked by Chicago manufacturer and reseller, Slingerland. It was used on ukuleles, banjos and guitars from the 1920s until WWII. Not much is known about this company’s production, or even if their instruments were built by them or Regal - also of Chicago. They built budget-grade instruments, many of which were dressed up with pearloid of various colors, decals, and showy finish. The company’s transition to Drums in the 1930s was likely foreshadowed by their comfort with and regular use of celluloid.

This small 12 fret guitar was likely built in the mid 1930s. It features a spruce and birch body that measures 13” across the lower bout and is ornamented with an attractive sunburst finish, pearloid pickguard, multicolored purflings, and a ‘musician cherub’ decal. With its sunburst finished pearloid fretboard and stylish May-Bell headstock decal this instrument is nothing short of stunning. That it’s still a functioning guitar is huge bonus!

The guitar is about the size of a Martin Size 1, and is built with a 12 fret neck with a 24” scale. The top is Z braced, which is something akin to half an X brace pattern – so it’s fabulously light, and sounds that way too. We have it strung with silk and steels, which really brings out the warmth and mellowness. It’s a delightful fingerstyle guitar with plenty of expressiveness and soul.

The neck has deep and round carve, not unlike a 50’s Gibson, but with a wider 1-3/4” nut width and a flat fingerboard. Bridge pins are spaced at 2-5/16”, like a 30’s Martin. The neck feel is remarkably comfortable. We’ve set the guitar up with an action of 7-8 64ths at the 12th fret, which admittedly is a bit high, but works well with the silk and steel strings and low tension. We didn’t have the heart to modify the bridge just to lower the string action, or the budget to reset the neck. We’ll leave that decision to the guitar’s next owner.

The instrument is completely original and in wonderful condition. The top’s center seam has been reglued, we’ve repaired a small crack on the back, and we’ve added a maple reinforcement plate over the spruce bridge plate. The original tuners are in great shape too.

With original fitted chipboard case.