1860s Unmarked German-made Parlor Guitar

This guitar has been in the workshop for so long that it hurts. Sometimes one just has to be in the right mood to do service to an instrument, though.

This style of guitar was built mostly in Germany (though Austrian and French examples are extant) and the ones over here were mostly imported from the 1830s through the 1880s. This example looks about 1860s to my eyes, though it's possible it's a little earlier. It's a very pretty instrument with its figure-8 body shape, fancy birdseye maple back and sides, Renaissance-style bridge shape, and pearl-inlaid rosette.

It arrived in somewhat-good-order, thankfully. There were a number of old repairs done by a violin-style repair shop (tons of splints and a replaced section of back... all of which did not have cleats under them, oh my) and said shop also gave it a fresh layer of French polish, too.

After sorting-out the devils of needed repairs, the guitar has come to life beautifully. It has a clear, sweet, rich sound and excellent sustain. It's very easy to get a good sound out of it just from the pads of the fingers (rather than nails) and the volume is surprising for its size. Fingerpickers and "folk" guitarists will find guitars like these really suited to recording and backing voices compared to standard classical instruments with their more-overbearing bass and excess warmth.

And, yes -- most pin-bridge guitars built into the 1910s generally were not meant for steel strings. This one was made for gut when it was built and so should take nylon, fluorocarbon, or Nylgut classical sets these days.

Repairs included: bridge reglue and minor alteration, fret seating+level/dress, cleats for all the old crack repairs, fitting of a set of 4:1 geared Peghead tuners (they look just like the violin pegs that were on it) at the headstock, minor cleaning, and setup.

Made by: unknown

Made in: almost certainly Germany

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: solid birdseye maple

Bracing type: ladder

Bridge: ebony w/ebonized ends

Fretboard: ebony

Neck wood: maple, ebonized

Tone: sweet, clear, clean, sustained

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” overall (fast)
String gauges: medium-tension D'Addario Pro-Arte

Neck shape: slim-medium C-shape

Board radius: roughly 10"

Truss rod: none

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: small-medium

Scale length: 24 5/8"

Nut width: 1 13/16"

String spacing at nut: 1 9/16"

String spacing at bridge: 2 1/4"

Body length: 7"

Body width: 11 5/8"

Body depth: 3 3/8"

Weight: 2 lb 4 oz

Condition notes: many old hairline crack splints/repairs, one section of replacement back material. Bridge has been slightly altered and repaired (lowered a bit, new fret saddle, repaired wing). The bridge pins are replacements and the tuners are new. The finish has been top-coated with French polish but the original finish is all under it and looks great.