Workshop Note #2

Steaming three necks from 3-5 AM Sat/Sun night listening to the new Tweedy album (among others)... resetting them from 12-3 PM today listening to Science Friday and then the new Houndstooth album... another day of the weird/good life.


1920s Harmony-made Schuler Soprano Uke

While this uke bears a Schuler label in the soundhole... it's 100% Harmony-made in Chicago. I worked on this for a customer and it got a bridge reglue on top of top repairs, a fret level/dress, and setup. I also added a 12th fret (vintage wire) that appears to have never been installed when the uke was made and seated the (replacement) friction tuners a little more nicely. It turned out nice with just a bit more sparkle than I'm used to on "peanut"-shaped Harmony ukes (they tend towards very mellow/plunky) and it plays spot-on.

This one is made entirely from mahogany with lots of nice light flame and curl all over.

1930s Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-11 Flattop Guitar

These squashed-00-size instruments have become very popular of late. There's a reason, though: they're comfortable in the lap, lightweight, very loud and proud, and look cool as heck. For a country-blues player, fingerpicker, or old-time performer... this kind of instrument is just about perfect. If you're a restrained strummer, too, it can really put out in just the right way. There's no factory order number stamp inside so my best guess on date is from 1935-38.

This one is a consignor's instrument and the work received included one seam reglue, a fret level/dress, bridge and saddle shave, cleaning, and setup. It plays very well (3/32" bass and a hair over 1/16" treble) at the 12th fret with a set of 11s on it. I suppose one could run 12s if they're detuning to open G or open D but I wouldn't want 12s on this strung to concert pitch as it's already had a history of light bellying/top deformation over time and the 11s are screamingly-loud enough for my ears. You can practically play gypsy-jazz leads on it...

1960s Favilla Mandocello Conversion

This began as a trade of a much-downtrodden New York-made Favilla 12-string guitar (the work it's being traded for, thankfully, is getting near its end). It had a number of funky "repairs" done to it and I knew it was bait for some sort of other use as soon as I saw it. Baritone guitar? Recording piece? Who knows. In this case I said "I want a mandocello, dangit," so that's what it became. It had a holiday for a few hours as a mandolone but that wasn't quite doing it for me.

Work included resetting the neck (again) which was easy as it had been converted into a 2-bolt joint. When I did it, though, I also glued it in and made the joint and back angle acceptable. It also got a fret level/dress, quick conversion of the battered-and-bruised bridge into an adjustable mando-style unit, and a tailpiece added.

1976 Guild F-50 Jumbo Flattop Guitar

I'll admit it... this is a great guitar. A friend dropped this off a couple months ago and it finally got into rotation for the light work it needed (pickup install, fret level/dress, bridge resculpt, setup). I've worked on several nice old F-50s -- both the real deal and pretty faithful copies -- but I can easily say that this is the best I've heard. It's got a really nice hugely-full sound but it's very much balanced and jelled-together in the mids. This makes it a perfect strummer for stage use (which is where it lives, anyway).

1950s Harmony-made Birch Stencil Ukulele

I'm pretty sure the stencil for this fellow originated in the 30s and 40s but this was certainly made later in the 50s judging by the goofy plastic fretboard. It sure cheapened the production, though... but also the product!

I got this in trade from a friend of mine and fixed it up as a beater for around here (one cannot have too many playable but funky ukes when herds of little girls visit for playtime now and then). The repair work included seam reglues, a setup, and a neck-bolting, and gluing up split and detached sides at the neck block (common on these).

Workshop: Uke Bridge Repair #2

This uke is actually all finished but I forgot about these pictures floating around. This is that uke that I had to glue a bridge plate/patch to in the last "workshop" post to cover a hole underneath the bridge's foot.

Step one after that patch glued up is to tape off the area that's exactly the size and location of where the bridge will go for proper intonation.


1890s Seidel 4/4 Violin

This is a customer's instrument that was in for some work which included a neck reglue, slight bridge shave/adjustment, and setup. It was in pretty good shape to begin with except for the loose neck. Both the bridge fitting and an old top crack repair were done professionally in the past.

I'm not entirely sure the label/stamp inside reads as "Leidel, Heidel, or Seidel," but as the make (Seidel) is right for the time and the label/stamp looks an awful lot like another I found while trolling around on the net... that is my guess. In any case it's a very high quality instrument with good tone, nice handling, and fantastic flamed maple and close-grained spruce used in the construction.


Ephemera: Classy Gals (1880s?)

Guitar, guitar, autoharp... and novelty harmonica-horn (the melodica of its day). Cool!


1948 Gibson LG-2 Flattop Guitar

Hubba, hubba. Sunburst, teardrop guard, straight bridge... this has it. Customers: stop leading me into temptation by sending this stuff here. She's honking loud and gutsy with a clear, edgy tone that reminds me more of an L-00 with a bit more roundness than an LG-2 or B-25. It's a perfect guitar for the fingerpicker, bluesboy, or old-time flatpicker looking for a different but tasty lead sound.

My work on it included regluing a couple loose braces, a fret level/dress, recut of the swampy saddle slot, new ebony bridge pins, and installation of a nice new compensated bone saddle.

1930s Slingerland 8" Resonator Banjo Uke

This customer's instrument is a rarer-size (8" rim) Slingerland-branded banjo uke probably from right around 1930. It's definitely a step up from their good-but-plainer 7" models (and even has a "long" 14" scale length) and the attached resonator gives it some forward punch and clarity. I think that these were made by Regal for Slingerland but I'm not 100% on that. It's just a hunch.

My work on it included a light level/dress of the replaced frets,  a replacement neck brace (vintage parts), a cleaning, and a good setup with a new set of Martin fluorocarbon strings. The result is a loud but warm-sounding sweetie-pie of a banjo uke.

1974 Martin D-18 Dreadnought Guitar

Well, what can I say? -- it's a D-18... and it sounds and feels like one. This came in for a fret level/dress, some minor bridge adjustments, and a setup. It also got a new pickguard at the same time (its original black one was curled up). It seems like this was the first fret level/dress done on the instrument as the frets were very pitted. With it all buttoned up and humming, however... it's got that dread sound to a T. Or a D.