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20th Century Guitar
Rara Avis -- 1936 Bacon & Day Señorita

June 1999
by Bianca Soros



Link to 20th Century Guitar Magazine

he Bacon & Day Senorita flattop has a scalloped X-braced top, straight-grain rosewood on the back and sides, a gorgeous sunburst finish and an unusually shaped tortoise shell pickguard. This 14-fret, full-bodied beauty (15 " lower bout and 24 "scale) has a pearloid engraved sunburst peghead, a bound rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlays and a steel reinforced mahogany neck. The original nickel-plated Grover G-98 gears suggest that the Senorita was made in the mid 1930's. John Lundberg, a guitar expert of Berkely, California, notes that the banjo-cut peghead is an unusual and rare feature of the Senorita. A banjo-cut peghead is where the top edge of the peghead is cut vertical to the fingerboard verses the traditional cut vertical to the peghead.

    Guitar dealers and historians believe that the Bacon & Day Banjo Company did not have the guitar-making facilities needed, and that the work was commissioned out of the shop. The curious aspect of the Senorita is that various attributes of construction seem to correlate almost identically to different guitar manufacturers. The question is, who made the Senorita? Many think that it was possibly late Regal or early Gretsch. Experts suggest that the Senorita came from the Regal Custom Shop, known for superb instruments of high quality unlike the mass-produced standard lure made for department stores like Montgomery Ward and Sears.

    The Senorita was designed in response to market demand for larger bodied steel-stringed guitars in the 1930's to compete with high-grade models such as the Martin D-28 and Gibson Advanced Jumbo. It is hard to say for sure who constructed the Senorita, but it is among the very few jumbo flattop models that were available during this period. The exact production totals are unknown, but the model is considered to be quite rare. Although the Senorita seems rare, "this was a production instrument," says Lundberg, "not a one-off; and the attics are still full of this stuff."

   The Senorita continues to entice us with her exotic mystery and it is ironic that she was created during the height of the Great Depression, when utility took precedence over luxury and beauty. End

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