Melita Custom Built Electric Guitar 1953 - Scrolls, DeArmond, Gretsch, and Grovers - Natural - Good Condition
Up for sale is this vintage circa 1953 Melita custom built electric guitar. This thing is super cool and the epitome of "1950's forward thinking", we will do our best to describe the instrument and it's back story...
This guitar came out of Philadelphia a few years ago and was attributed to being built either by or for Sebastiano “Johnny” Melita, who was of course the designer of the Melita bridge. While we don't have documentation of this, the story absolutely makes sense when you study the instrument.
We will start with the fact that the original Melita bridge found on this instrument includes the *stupid rare* original string mute, which we have only seen on a few other Melita bridges over the years. We are sure that Melita was in well with Gretsch at this point, which explains the early metal Gretsch knobs that lack the G or arrow branding to the tops, the DeArmond Dynasonic pickup (it originally carried a pair of them as evidenced under the non-original and non-working Hofner replacement), and the Grover keys (which were found on a number of Gretsch instruments). The Gretsch association also makes sense when it comes the two piece neck construction and the shape of the neck heel and end cap. The Philadelphia connection is further corroborated by the mid-1970's Philadelphia newspaper page that we found in one of the back cavities (pictured and put back inside).
The tailpiece is homemade and is a pretty impressive piece in itself. The original aluminum nut appears to be an early homemade attempt at an adjustable nut. It, along with the tailpiece, is very, very cool.
The instrument plays well, but the original brass frets do show wear and the instrument has a touch of relief in the neck which does not have an adjustable truss rod. While the action is low and comfortable, there's a decent amount of fret buzz on the fretboard and it could use a refret to be 100%. Since it is original, we have opted to leave it alone.
The body has a seam split near the tailpiece, but it is sturdy and doesn't require any attention at this time. There is also a loose piece of binding (pictured) on the front bass side of the body near the tailpiece.
Electronically, the pots date to 1953. Currently, only the DeArmond Dynasonic is working and three of the knobs seem to all control the volume. Since it is such a historical piece, we have opted to leave this alone as well.
It appears that Mr. Melita had this built and then used it to test ideas over the years. The hole in the pickguard goes into the body as well, but nothing appears to have ever been wired up there. The black plastic plate on the back and the routing underneath looks to be a later attempt at weight relief, as the guitar is solid maple and a bit on the heavy side. The neck is chunky and has a slight v-shape to it as it heads towards the body. On top of feeling great, look at that flame in the maple!
Overall, while it lacks documentation, we are pretty darn certain of what this is and are willing to stick with the story. If anyone has any additional information, we would love to have it.
No case is included, but this instrument will ship in a brand new, padded gig bag and will be well-packed to ensure safe shipping.
$110 Shipping. Continental USA Only. No International Sales.
This guitar is presented by Izzy's Vintage Guitars of Huntsville, AL. Buyer pays $110 shipping (and applicable taxes) which is added to the sales price at checkout.