1850s German Parlor Guitar

This is an unmarked guitar but likely German-made from around the 1850s judging by its original hardware and design style. It could be a little later but that's my gut reaction to it after peeking-around inside and out. It has lovely engraved inlay in the rosette, interestingly-recessed tuner plates at the headstock, fancy wood purfling around the top edge, super-tightly-grained spruce for the top, and Brazilian rosewood used through the back and sides. It stinks of quality.

It was, however, in a really, really bad state when it arrived 7 or 8 years ago. That's a long time, even for this shop! The owner is a consignor, however, and he's routinely had a rotating assortment of guitars through here with more or less priority and due to the nature of the extensive repairs needed for this one, it kept getting punted back to the end of his line of gear. Thankfully, I now have help around the shop, and Ancel took on this one. It was both an excellent learning experience for him (it needed everything just shy of a neck reset) and a nice feather in his cap, too, as it turned-out gorgeous. I did some glorified setup-side work to it near the end but Ancel did all of the heavy lifting.

My friend Steve pegged this guitar as one "for him" ages ago and, as I type this, it's winging its way down to him in the mail. I'm hoping that he bonds with it as much as the folks around the workshop did because I was pretty impressed by this guitar when it was done. It doesn't have a big sound but it does have a balanced sound and it's got a nice, unexpected, depth to its tone that makes you want to play it longer and longer. I played it for several hours the night after it was strung-up and that's more consecutive time with a single guitar than I've spent in, perhaps, a year or so. There's no lack for distractions around here!

Repairs included: a huge amount of crack repairs, seam repairs, binding replacement/fill work, a bridge reglue, saddle slot and pins relocation, new nut and saddle, replacement (antique) bridge pins, fret level/dress, side dots install, many brace repairs, cleaning, setup, and all sorts of other minor repairs that I've missed.

  • Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz
  • Scale length: 24 3/4"
  • Nut width: 1 3/4"
  • Neck shape: medium-full C
  • Board radius: flat
  • Body width: 11 7/8"
  • Body depth: 3 3/4"
  • Top wood: solid spruce
  • Back & sides wood: solid Brazilian rosewood
  • Bracing type: ladder
  • Bridge: ebony
  • Fretboard: ebony
  • Neck wood: Spanish cedar
  • Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” overall (fast, spot-on)
  • String gauges: medium tension classical
  • Neck relief: straight
  • Fret style: lower/smaller

Condition notes: clearly, it has a multitude of old repairs throughout. There are lots of smaller to medium-sized cracks here and there throughout the top, back, and sides. Its finish is worn and dogged throughout and shows its age greatly. Still, it's a gorgeous-looking guitar for all of its cosmetic faults and is in good structural and playing health.

It comes with: a new Gator hard case.

Consignor tag: MM


Michael Mulkern said…
Kudos to Ancel for giving that sweet parlor a new lease on life. Is that poor consignor still alive? He must have the patience of a saint. :D