Bacon & Day Ne Plus Ultra Troubadour Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1934), made in Chicago, serial # 33895, sunburst lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck; spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, period black hard shell case.

This arch-top Bacon & Day Ne Plus Ultra Troubadour is a very unique and extremely rare guitar. It was built around mid-1934 when the Bacon Banjo Company was struggling, a victim of the Depression and a declining market for banjos. While the guitar itself was almost certainly made by Regal in Chicago, the decorative touches on the headstock of engraved painted celluloid and rhinestone trim are pure Bacon. Bacon & Day instruments were always top quality, and this guitar ranks with the best Chicago-made guitars of the era.

Although the Bacon company built many of the flashiest and finest (and most expensive) banjos of the 1920's, they had no experience or apparent interest in building guitars. They dabbled with ukuleles and mandolins in the very early 1920's, and in 1923 had even ordered a few Martin guitars with a Bacon stamp but this was not followed up. The company had been able to prosper through the 1920's as it was and as late as 1931 Bacon literature offered nothing but banjos.

The high-end banjo market pretty much collapsed after 1930. Fred Bacon and David Day, both older men with decades of experience in the music business, took the expedient route and contracted with outside makers to supply guitars that could be finished off as "B&D's". While similar to some other Regal-built instruments including the Tonk Bros. Washburn line, 1930's "B&D" guitars are always distinctively appointed, and usually the best that could be had. Although remembered mostly for budget grade instruments, Regal's factory was capable of turning out a fine product if the customer was willing to pay. Bacon and Day had very high standards, and anything sold under their names had to measure up!

This 1934 B & D Ne Plus Ultra Troubadour is a very interesting Bacon/Regal creation, structurally unlike nearly all other period archtops. The 16 1/4" wide body is unusually wide waisted with an almost Dreadnought shape. The thin, dramatically arched solid spruce top is arched over several cross braces, not carved. It has segmented f-holes like the early pressed-top Stromberg guitars built in Boston around the same time, but those are much more heavily braced. The system of a few fairly light cross braces (and nothing else!) is most unusual for an early F-hole arch top; some Bacons were X-braced insread. Apparently at the time Regal and/or Bacon & Day were experimenting with these designs more than taking direct cues from Gibson, as they would soon after.

The back and sides are nicely grained mahogany, the back pressed into a high arch and reinforced with stout transverse braces. The body is a hefty 4 1/2" at the rim, which combined with the elaborate arching makes for an unusually deep guitar.

Overall length is 40 3/4 in. (103.5 cm.), 16 1/4 in. (41.3 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 13/16 in. (46 mm.).

This extremely rare guitar shows quite a bit of repair work but remains in excellent playing condition. The finish shows some fine checking overall, with numerous dings, dents and scrapes, mostly notably on the back which has some heavy scraping across the center. There is also some heavier scratching to the lower sides. There is also a deep scrape to the heel, but the rest of the back of the neck is relatively clean with just some small dings and dents.

There are numerous repaired spruce grain cracks to the rosewood back, likely related to the wood being bent over the unusual bracing pattern. These are all very well sealed but visible; the top finish remains original with only minimal touchup. The back has an area of heavier and less delicate repair just beneath the heel, with numerous short cracks sealed and finished over. There ae a few other small back cracks off the edges. The instrument is completely stable structurally.

The neck has been very carefully straightened, the original binding and frets remain fully intact and playability is excellent. The tailpiece and tuners are original, the rosewood bridge a later NOS piece and the pickguard a very nice repro, copied directly from an original This guitar has seen some major work over the years but emerged as a very playable and always cool and unusual arch top which is no slouch in the sound department either. It is housed in an old HSC for a slightly larger 17" guitar, which better accommodates its unusual depth. Very Good + Condition.

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Listeda year ago
ConditionVery Good (Used)
Very Good items may show a few slight marks or scratches but are fully functional and in overall great shape.Learn more
  • Ne Plus Ultra Troubadour
  • sunburst lacquer
  • 1934
Body Shape
  • Archtop

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Retrofret Vintage Guitars

Brooklyn, NY, United States
Joined Reverb:2015

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