The Supertone Airplane model

Supertone Airplane Model

As far as I can tell, this model is one of the first guitars influenced by popular culture.  (The cowboy guitars would come out a few years later.) The bridge apparently represents the shadow of an aeroplane on the water and it was done to commemorate Lindbergh achieving the first solo flight across the Atlantic, from America to France, on May 21, 1927.  

The straight bridge saddle also shows that it was probably intended for lap style Hawaiian playing. (Two kinds of popular culture in one.)

These guitars came out in 1927 and were made for only a couple of years after that. They were made by Harmony and sold through the Montgomery Ward catalogue. This model was the most expensive guitar in the catalogue and sold for $24.50 or $25.50 with a case. (At the time you could buy a nice all mahogany Martin for about $50.)  

This one has a beautiful spruce top with abalone inlay around the sides, Koa-wood back and sides, a mahogany neck, a rosewood bridge and some nice inlays in the fingerboard. But it is not a Martin. It has only two braces on the top, a straight brace in front of the bridge and an angled one below the bridge.

My wife, Jane, bought this guitar for me a few years ago. The neck had been reset but badly and also the back of the neck had been poorly refinished.  But all the parts were original and the body was in great shape for its age.  

I asked luthier Frank Grubisa to sort out the neck for me. He refinished the back of the neck properly and reset it. However, the original dyed white wood fingerboard disintegrated when he took it off so he made a new board from Madagascan rosewood and re made the inlays as the originals had been thinned down in an earlier attempt to make the guitar more playable. Frank's new board made the guitar play and sound a lot better.  

I have never seen a photo of one in better shape than this. As the guitar is quite fragile, Frank advised me to put only extra light strings on it. To allow for this, I keep this guitar in open tuning and use a custom light set.

And it works great.