1900s Bauer 0/00-Size Flattop Guitar

I have a nice customer who's supplied me with all manner of beautiful old, weird, parlor/small-body 12-fret guitars to work on over the last few years. This is another from his stable and she's a beaut. Unlike most Bauers, which are Martin-ish in their plain, refined looks, this one has a "reverse-sunburst" brown-stained top that sets it apart right-quick.

The guitar itself is all-original save a new saddle I fit and, aside from alligatored finish on the top, it's in good shape. Like other Bauers, it has excellent build quality and nice, quirky trim and inlay that seems borrowed from 1890s banjo aesthetics as much as it is from guitars.

This one is lightly ladder-braced on top and features triangular-shaped braces (my favorite shape). The owner and I were on the fence about using this for steel or nylon/gut/classical-style strings because of the light build, but the set that's on it right now (a classical/hybrid set: Thomastik KR116 but with a plain steel high E) sounds really good. I think it could probably take 46w-10 strings just fine, though I'd be tempted to tune-down a half step due to its longer scale length. Either way, the saddle is wide enough (and tall enough) to adjust for steel-string use via extra compensation/fitting.

Tone is sweet, rich, and full -- with good sustain and clarity on the top-end. These Bauers have a certain sound to them that really suits fingerpicking, though you can hear with the flatpick in the video clip that it'll handle that fine, too.

As you might expect for a Bauer, the back and sides are Brazilian rosewood and the back is particularly pretty.

Repairs included: a neck reset and double-bolt reinforcement of the joint (these have a frustratingly-shallow tenon joint: that makes sure these stay put), fret level/dress, saddle-slot widening/recut and a new (glued-in) bone saddle, one replacement pearl-inlayed ebony bridge pin, cleaning, minor brace reglues, and setup.

Setup notes: action is 3/32" overall save the high E, which I stealthily slotted-down to get 1/16" out of it. The Thomastik KR116s need 3/32" at the 12th fret, but steel likes 1/16" on the high-end. The neck is straight and the frets are in good order, though for some peculiar reason the last three frets on the fretboard extension are actually split from old damage.

Scale length: 25 3/4"
Nut width: 1 7/8"
String spacing at nut: 1 11/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/16"
Body length: 19 1/2"
Lower bout width: 13 3/4"
Waist width: 8"
Upper bout width: 9 7/8"
Side depth at endpin: 4 1/4"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid Brazilian rosewood
Bracing type: ladder
Fretboard: ebony
Bridge: ebony, bone saddle
Neck feel: medium V-shape, flat board

Condition notes: it's in great shape overall but the top has alligatoring/funkiness to its finish. The back and sides show small scratches/scuffs throughout and there's a repaired hairline crack on the sides and at the endblock. The seams were reglued a bit on the back and I cleaned that old repair up some, too.

 love the inlay in the headstock!

Ooh-la-la rosewood, no?


Brad Smith said…
For the tiny legion of Bauer fans, this guitar was in one family for it's entire life. The headstock reads Monogram, 18, B. Monogram was Bauer's second line, and #18 was the top of that line. The letter B denotes "Grand Concert Size" according to the one surviving catalog. There is no reliable guide to Bauer serial numbers, if this guitar even has one, but because he was active for for a short period of time this guitar dates from the very late 1890s to early 1900s. As Jake says the ladder-braced Bauers sound right with the TI composite strings. The x-braced Bauers can sound awesome with steel, but they are lightly built so light guages/tuned down or open are the way to go.