1920s Cerrito-made Galiano 000 12-Fret Guitar

Update 2018: While I originally posted about this in 2016, I'd worked on the guitar a year or so earlier, and have now completely updated the blog post with new photos, a video, and a fresh write-up.

1910s/20s 000-size guitars are definitely rare to find and guitars made by New York City "Italian Guild" luthiers are even harder to locate. This one was probably made by Antony Cerrito and has the tenon neck joint and other details associated with his/his shop's work. These guitars are very similar to nicer-grade Oscar Schmidt designs but just a wee bit better. Compared to a nicer-grade Schmidt, the build is lighter overall, the bracing more refined, and the sound a bit fuller and with cleaner high-end.

Personally, I think this particular guitar is one of the "best-sounding" ladder-braced guitars of the '20s I've played -- but I'm pretty biased because I like my guitars to sound warm, folksy, and woody flatpicked as well as fingerpicked, and a whole host of '20s and '30s ladder-braced boxes sound superb fingerpicked but not flatpicked. This one does everything -- from old-time flatpicked thumping to sweet bare-fingers fingerpicking, to heavy-duty metal-picks fingerpicking -- and sounds good each way.

As far as repairs go on this one, when it came to me initially it had already had a bunch of old work done to it -- a very long crack on the bass side was cleated its entire length and glued-up, one big top crack had the same done to it, and a couple of back hairline cracks as well. I don't think much else was done, and aside from its endpin and bridge pins, it appeared all-original. My own work on it's included a fret level/dress, side dot install, and slight widening of the saddle slot to accommodate a new, wider bone saddle that's properly compensated.

It's playing spot-on with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret and it's strung with 52w-11 Martin Retro (monel) strings, which suit the instrument well. The neck only has a very tiny amount of deflection tuned to pitch (a hair over 1/64") and the neck has a comfortable, almost '50s Gibson C-shaped back profile and "modern" 1 11/16"nut width. It's hecka-easy to play for many modern hands, I think. Most of these old guys have gigantic necks which feel a bit clumsy.

The top is solid spruce in two pieces and shows much loving wear from an enthusiastic flatpicker. Other materials are nice on the guitar, too -- it has solid mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck, and rosewood fretboard and bridge. Both the nut and saddle are bone and all the pins are nice, rosewood ones.

The lower bout is a full 15 1/4" and the body is a long, Martin-like 12-fret shape so it's almost as big as a J-45 or similar in the lap. The depth is only 3 3/4" at the endblock, however, so it doesn't feel massive for your strumming arm.

The headstock has no veneer and so shows the mahogany instead. As stated, the nut is 1 11/16" and bone. The tuners currently on the guitar are StewMac repro ones, but the original machines will come with the guitar. These StewMac beasties are a huge improvement over the originals and look almost the same.

The frets are nickel-silver and the board has big old pearl dots in it. The frets still have some good life left in them after my level/dress job in 2016.

The binding on this guitar is holly or something similar and it has a pleasingly rounded-over profile.

The original pyramid bridge is a looker. Note that my saddle has slotted-in compensation for each string. I wanted to make sure the break angles were just where I wanted them, as the slot itself isn't compensated very much and I wanted them to be precise.

Here's that cleated/repaired top crack.

The mahogany on the back and sides looks nice. The back may have taken one shot of overspray or localized touch-ups at some point, but I'm not certain.

Here are shots of a the repaired back hairline cracks.

In this side shot you can see the worst damage to the guitar -- a split that runs from the endpin all the way around the bass side of the instrument. Someone in the past has done a competent job repairing it -- adding long cleats the entire length of the crack on the inside. The outside doesn't look as tidy, though, with discoloration around the crack itself. It's entirely stable, though.

Here's a sample (above) of the cleating jobs done for the cracks on the back. The side-crack work is similar.


Alex Robinson said…
Cool Guitar Jake. A real Warrior, but what a Great Sound.
As you know, I have a couple of these and that one sounds, in my opinion, better than them, and they are very good. This has a wider Lower Bout, slightly shorter scale and narrower finger board than mine.
How much is it going for?
Jake Wildwood said…
Alex -- $900. Good to hear from ya!