1890s W.A. Cole 000-Size Guitar

Boston-made Cole guitars are rare as heck. This one's unmarked but it's identical, save very minor details, to a couple Cole-stamped guitars out there on the net. Cole banjos can be found fairly regularly when a nest of late-1800s estate instruments pops-up on eBay or the like, but the guitars are just not seen.

This is a really high-quality instrument (if it's not obvious) and sports extremely-light x-bracing. Unlike a lot of x-bracing, the "wing" braces coming out of the sides of the x-braces on a Martin-style instrument instead travel along the main braces on the lower bout, making a hybrid x/fan-style bracing. It works, clearly, because this instrument sounds tremendous -- it's got a big, warm, huge sound. Unfortunately, it's way too light for any sort of steel strings, so the owner has Thomastik-made rope-core steel classical hybrid strings on it (the John Pearse Folk set, but the KR116 Thomastik set is very similar). These give a sound between classical and steel and work beautifully on it.

Need we mention the absolutely-beautiful pearl inlay, ebony board and bridge, tight-grain spruce top, and Brazilian rosewood back and sides? It's a gem to look at, for sure, as well.

Repairs included: fret seating and level/dress, minor hairline crack repairs, and setup.

Setup notes: action is set at 3/32" bass and hair-below 3/32" treble at the 12th fret. The neck is straight, the frets are low-ish and small, and it has a shallow V-shaped rear profile and lightly-radiused board (as I recall).

Condition notes: it appears all-original save a replacement inlay in the treble side of the bridge. There's minor wear and tear throughout and a few hairline crack repairs to the top and back, but it looks great overall. The tuners were a bit loosey-goosey, too, but held well-enough.