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Prairie State Arch Top Acoustic Guitar, made by Larson Brothers , c. 1939
Prairie State Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar, made by Larson Brothers, c. 1939, made in Chicago, natural lacquer finish, flame maple back and sides, spruce top; maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original brown hard shell case.
One of the rarest guitars we have had the pleasure to handle, this Prairie State F-hole guitar is a product of the final few years of the Larson Brothers instrument production. These large-body deluxe guitars were built individually for local customers of the brother's Chicago shop, often entertainers working on the radio programs based in that city. Nearly all of the Larson's instruments were of round-hole design; additionally a substantial proportion of the few F-hole guitars produced have since been converted to roundhole instruments with new tops. This lovely example is one of the few extant F-hole Larsons we are aware of remaining in original condition.
This is a very fancy guitar, even by the Larson's standards, with top grade materials throughout. The top is bordered in pearl with multiple celluloid layers on either side, with a side binding line as well. The back and sides are very tight-grained flame maple with a striking dramatic figure. The neck is maple with a center ebony strip, with a thick ebony fingerboard inlaid with pearl blocks. The headstock is single bound with a typically Larson pearl floral inlay. The bridge is carved ebony, adjustable for height, mated to a typical 1930's style nickel-plated tailpiece. The pickguard is in the period Epiphone shape but made of different materials; the tuners are metal-button Waverly individual units.
The construction of the top is highly unusual, but typical of the Larson's shop. While it is an f-hole design it is only slightly arched and not carved. The solid spruce is thin and supported by a fairly elaborate laminated X-brace system, again unique to the Larsons. There is also a metal rod linking the neckblock and heelblock, a patented Larson feature used only on instruments labeled with the Prairie State brand (there is a stamp on the back of this guitar, under the bass side F-hole).
This is a superb player's instrument; the sound is not as powerful as a typical 17" archtop of the period, but is very well balanced with some of the character of a flattop guitar, with a still-recognizable Larson shimmer. The neck is slim with a shallow "C" profile, very fast by 1930's standards and is extremely comfortable to play. The guitar is a delight to play with a totally unique sound and feel, a testament to the Larson brother's skill and vision.
Overall length is 41 1/2 in. (105.4 cm.), 17 in. (43.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 in. (10.2 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.). Very nice original condition overall, this guitar has been well played but not abused. There is a decent amount of finish worn away on the back of the neck, and general dings, chips and scratches overall. There are several old repaired grain cracks to the top, solid but visible with out any heavy touchup work. Everything appears original except there is an endpin jack (no pickup remains we can see). The tuners appear to be the correct style and era, but something else similar has been in place at some point, so it's difficult to say absolutely that they are the original units. The neck appears to have been neatly reset some time ago; the guitar is in excellent playing condition and includes a lovely original case. Excellent - Condition.
Item # 6101
This item has been sold.
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