5/22/2015

1939 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-14 Flattop Guitar




So, this is #3 KG-14 guitar in the last few days and it's also a consignment. This one is the most played-in of the batch and has the most general use-wear, though it's also the most "classic" of the bunch. Typical KG-14 style applies: L-00 body shape with ladder-bracing, 24 3/4" Gibson scale, and 1 3/4" nut width. Because this is a '39, the neck profile is a little more of a hybrid C/V shape rather than a typical V neck. It feels closer to that 40s/50s Gibson profile.

My work included a bridge shave and reglue, new bone saddle, new ebony pins all around, fret level/dress, tuner lube, and general setup. It plays like a champ and sounds especially nice for fingerpicked ragtime, blues, and folky styles. As usual, when used as a flatpicker it has a punchy, loud voice that sits nicely in a mix if you want some clarity and volume to cut through.

1900s Weymann Style 25 00-Size Guitar




This is a customer's glorious 00-size 12-fret (19" body, 14 1/4" lower bout) Weymann (Philadelphia, PA) that was sent in for repairs. It'd already had a lot of good, tidy work done and so my only work was to level/dress the frets, adjust the bridge and saddle, replace the pins, and set it up properly. It's as if someone who was skilled at most repairs did the structural work but failed the setup side of the job.

At any rate, the serial number (164XX) dates this to around 1905-1910 and it looks that way, too. Weymann guitars are very rare (Jimmie Rodgers played one, though!) and I've only worked on one other personally, but a big-body (for the time) like this one with Brazilian rosewood back and sides has to be up there on the rarity charts. After work, the sound is huge and full and sounds absolutely amazing fingerpicked... or flatpicked!

A long scale length (25 3/4") coupled with a lightweight but sturdy ladder-braced body recalls quality Galiano/Ciani guitars from around the same time. It's almost a Larson-brothers tone on steroids.

1950s/2015 Unmarked "Parlor Electric" Guitar




This started out as a fairly clean (for its type) variant on the "US Strad" guitar that I'm familiar with from flea markets and antique stores around here. I feel like these might've been made by Sorkin in New York. It's an all-laminate, ladder-braced body with a tailpiece and a mediocre acoustic tone... but the sweet spot is in the comfortable, 25" scale necks on these that seem rather warp-resistant and stable over the years.

Instead of just making a new bridge (the original ones on these are useless) and setting it up as a slightly-improved camping/campfire guitar, I decided to "ES-125" this thing (tonally) and after leveling/dressing the frets I installed a spare "Tune-O-Matic" (tuna-matic!!!) bridge which I ground-down to fit and a nice GFS P-90 pickup (stripped of its cover to fit the aesthetic and bring the magnet right up under the strings) in the soundhole. Add newer tuners, some electric 10s, and voila -- close your ears and listen to that lovely P-90 hollowbody tone leaping right out. As a bonus it does make some noise acoustically, too, though I can't say much for an unwound G string if the plan is to get a lot of acoustic use.

5/20/2015

1937 Gibson-made Kalamzoo KHG-14 Flattop Guitar




This is a really cool guitar. Per the Fox Guitars website, this specs-out as a KHG-14 -- which I could've told you -- and the serial places it at 1937. It began life as a Hawaiian version (straight saddle and raised strings for Hawaiian/lap slide play) but I've converted it to regular "Spanish" play. Compared to a normal 14-fret KG-14, this 12-fret model puts the bridge in a bit more of a "sweet spot" and thus this trades some up-front volume and snap for a bit more of a round, fuller tone.

Work included pulling the fretboard extension, reshaping, and regluing it, a bridge shave and re-slotting to install a new compensated bone saddle, bridge plate cap (more on that later), fret level/dress (believe it or not, but a few frets actually had wear in addition to small neck relief), cleaning, and setup. Everything aside from the mod to the bridge and the new saddle are original to the guitar... even all the pins! It plays spot-on with a straight neck (3/32" bass, 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret) and is currently strung with 50w-11 strings.

5/19/2015

1930s Gibson-made Capital J-1 Flattop Guitar




The Capital brand was used in the 30s by the J.W. Jenkins Company (retailers) for their line of "in-house branded" Gibson-sourced products. They were already a Gibson dealer at the time but Gibson made an offshoot line (similar to Gibson's own Cromwell -- as well as Kalamazoo -- offshoot lines) with the Capital brand on the headstock. This is basically a gussied-up version of the Kalamazoo KG-14 and appears identical (save for the headstock stencil) to their own in-house Cromwell G-2 model. As I recall, only 70 or so of this model were made.

This one is in as a consignment and while this had some previous repair work done, my work included a fret level/dress, bridge shave and new bone saddle, new bridge pins, tuner lube, cleats for two top cracks, and a good setup which included removing a terrible Bridge Dr. contraption. It now plays quite well (standard 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret) and has a good, bluesy tone (perfect for fingerpicking) but does have some obvious top bellying and some condition issues I'll note as I go along with the photos. I've got it strung with 50w-11 strings and it's stable in service.

Inventory Updates

I've noticed some weirdness happening with the checkout buttons on the inventory page. Everything in-stock is reporting as already sold! I'll be updating that ASAP. Update: they're all fixed.

5/18/2015

Ephemera: Ghost Girls (1900s)


I actually wouldn't mind hearing these two up in my attic on stormy nights. Better than squirrels, I say.

Ephemera: Cactar (1940s)


She beat me to it! Electric cactus guitar!

Ephemera: Best Use (1940s)


Ah, they've nailed it! The best use of that 40s Harmony is, as these folks have guessed, as a faux-fiddle stage prop. Oops! I mean, they're high quality, like I said -- sprayed-on fret markers and all. Just like a cello.

1951 Martin 0-18 Flattop Guitar




This is a customer's instrument in for consignment -- and what killer tone it has! It's obviously been loved and played-in well over the years, but for all of that it came to me in pretty good shape. My work was only to cleat a small 3" hairline crack on the lower bout, level and dress the frets, reshape the saddle, and set it up. It's now playing perfectly and strung with a set of 12s.

My experience with old Martins is that if you want added clarity and top-end snap and projection, look for a clean one. If you want thicker mids and a congealed low-end, look for one that's been played-in like crazy (for example, this one). To me, a guitar like this is a "Gibson player's Martin" as it has the shorter 24.9" scale, medium C/V neck shape, and those deliciously chocolate-sounding mids. It records so, so easily.

5/16/2015

1968 Gibson J-50 Slope Dread Guitar




Another J-50, huh? This one is a consignor's and it sure does have that great old slope-shoulder sound that records so perfectly and adapts itself well to any number of genres. My work was a glorified setup -- fret level/dress, new bridge pins, new bone nut, cleaning, saddle recut, and setup. She plays well with "Jake Standard" 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret, strung with 12s.

This one started out as a J-50 ADJ with an adjustable bridge and (for this year) the reverse-reverse belly bridge (ie, Martin-shaped). Someone replaced the original bridge with one of the same footprint but with a non-adjustable bone saddle installed. The work was competent and looks good and the whole guitar has that buttery-yellow, aged-in warmth about it.

1950s Unmarked 4/4 Violin


This old 4/4 violin is a customer's instrument and it came to me in great shape but needing a few seams reglued, a bridge fit, and a setup. It's unmarked but my guess is that it's a 50s Czech or German import instrument. The fittings and board are all ebony and the spruce top is carved nicely while the back and sides have just enough small figure to elevate this from extra-plain-Jane status.

It has a sweet, crisp sound and of course I've strung it up with my preferred John Pearse Mezzo strings. The setup is half-way between a classical fit and a fiddling fit so that anyone can pick it up and make noise on it without effort.