c.1860 Early "Parlor" Maple/Spruce Guitar

This is the same 1850s/1860s era guitar I showed pics of while it was "in progress." Click here for the link to that post.

It has a lot of German characteristics -- ice cream cone neck heel, grafted headstock, general styling... but it also has a lot of American characteristics -- the body shape is very much like an old Ashborn or earlier Martin, and has that wider-waist, more tucked upper bout (vs a typical figure-8 style guitar of the time). My guess is that this is an American-made instrument, probably from between 1850 and 1870, with emphasis somewhere in the middle. The original tuners that it came with and general shape and style seem to fit that timeframe.

My work included: seam reglues on the back, bridge reglue (and slight shave/re-ebonizing as it's maple), hairline crack repair on top (one, below bridge and slightly above it, bass side), one brace reglue to the top, regluing of the headstock grafted area which has a couple of hairline cracks (headstock and neck are separate pieces, all of which smells like cedar), fret dress, cleaning, setup, etc.

The result is an easy-playing, comfortable guitar with a nice, very direct and balanced classical tone. Fairly loud, too, for such a small body. It'd be a great recording guitar, especially for period music. Strings are new Aquila Nylguts -- the "Alabastro" set -- which is what I use on all vintage gut-stringers.

Top is spruce. Check out the pretty rosette! Three rings. Also, check out the violin-style purfling on the soundboard edge.

These are plastic pins, but I chose my yellowest, grungiest ones to get more of an ivory look to them.

Note the center red line on the inner rosette ring and purfling. Pretty!

Brass frets, original. All polished up after the fret dress, though.

Ebony nut.

This is a one-piece flamed maple (or possibly sycamore) back. Gorgeous! No cracks, either.

Note the chip at the base of the headstock -- this is where a small decorative volute may have chipped off at one point.

Cool ice cream cone heel! Neck joint is good and sturdy.

It's quite an attractive little thing.

The only other hairline crack aside from the cleated one on top is this tiny 1.5" one, which is also glued up, on the treble side.

I was kind of upset that I wasn't able to use the original brass-plate/gear/bone-knob tuners. I spent many hours trying to get them back into use but unfortunately the gears were simply just too worn out and they skipped around. These are probably 70s-style slotted tuners from my parts bin, but with swapped out "standard" set screws, they ape the part of '20s tuners fairly well. This guitar could definitely benefit from some high-end replacements, but I'll leave that up to the next owner. These are fortunately unobtrusive enough that they're not noticeable.

The maple on the sides is just pretty stuff!

New ebony end pin, too. Had to drill the remains of the original out to put this fella in.


Anonymous said…

First, this is NOT a complaint. I've noticed on your Ebay listings that I can minimize the sound clip and read all about the instrument at the same time. Is that a function of posting on Ebay? The sound clips on your blog don't allow the same functionality. I know you are always trying to improve your blog so please take my question in that spirit.

Ben: I think it must have something to do with the way blogger links work... I think they simply link from the same page whereas the default standard HTML link, when linked to mp3 or other audio, will open a new window or tab to play the file, in most browsers. I'm actually thinking of embedding the mp3s in a little Flash player so that the page won't disappear. Thanks for the feedback, by the way!