Happy Thanksgiving!

Our store will be closed this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for Thanksgiving R&R. Hope you have a good one, too! Regular hours resume on Saturday and Sunday.


Ephemera: Zero! (1940s)

Great shot! This is a homebrew guitar made from the remains of a Japanese A6M Zero. The eBay auction for it listed it as taken in Leyte, Philippines with the 1179th Army Engineers.

Ephemera: This Is Your Brain on Mandolin (1920s)

Is it me, or does the mandolinist look 20 years older and a bit "strung out" in this crowd? Wouldn't mind playing his Gibson A, though.

Ephemera: Boating (1940s)

Ah, the joys of new love, new boats, and new guitars.

Ephemera: Jimmy Gross (1950s)

Mr. Jimmy Gross plays the double-neck lap steel on WSU Barn Dance. Nice shirt!


1944 Gibson "Banner" J-45 Slope Dreadnought Guitar

There's no way around it -- this is an awesome guitar. It's a desirable "banner" model, has a truss rod, no cracks, and also the oddball mahogany top one finds on Gibsons as an alternative to the hard-to-find spruce during wartime. The sound is tremendous -- just as you'd expect it -- and it plays right on the dot.

Work included a board plane and refret, new bridge, general cleaning, and a good setup. I also managed to reuse the original nut and saddle (bone). It plays like a boutique-style reissue of one of these -- quick, fast, easy, and sure -- yet it's not a reissue. This is the real deal and it has the boomy, outboard voice to claim that reputation. I jammed on this all night on Thursday and it certainly cuts right through the mix. Boom, boom, boom! Yet -- the mahogany top gives it a woody clarity that's familiar but different from the spruce-topped '43 J-45 I had earlier this year.

Update: Q&A: the factory order number (FON) is 26xx.

1940s Harmony H918 Stella Tailpiece Parlor Guitar

This poor old wartime Harmony (the Stella named transferred from Oscar Schmidt to Harmony in '39) has been bouncing around the workshop for a year-plus. A "friend of a friend" brought it in and it was marked as low priority. It's finally done after tons of crack repairs, seam repairs, a low-brow neck stabilization, fret level/dress, new bridge, parts-scrounging, and setup. I know -- it was a lot to put into what's essentially an all-birch student guitar. But, ya know, folks love these things. They definitely have their own voice. Did I mention I had to reglue just about every brace, too? Hoy...

It appears to be an H918 model -- the forerunner of the venerable H929.

1937 Gibson TG-50 Carved-top Tenor Guitar

This tenor guitar is owned by a fella who -- wait for it -- plays these with nylon or nylgut strings. Cool! Bizarre! He bought this guitar from Elderly Instruments for something close to $300 -- how about that? -- and sent it on here for work. I finished it up on Thursday but haven't had time to post until now.

It came in with the majority of the back braces falling off, a slightly twisted/warped neck, and minus a bridge and tailpiece. The top is, of course, refinished as well and there are some old crack repairs and swapped tuners in place. I did all the work, added an older (period) tailpiece and made a new rosewood bridge for it, and the end result is a surprisingly-soulful tenor-guit-uke-jo... what else do you call something like this when it's tuned to plectrum banjo (CGBD) tuning?

1971 Yamaha FG-180 0000-Size Guitar

This is a customer's old Yamaha and it came in for neck work, a fret level/dress, new saddle, and general setup. The worst of it is that the heel was separating and a "ski jump" was forming over the upper bout. Typical!

After work it plays -- as you'd expect for these popular "red label" Japanese Yamahas -- well and sounds far, far better than it should. These guitars are all-laminate (very thin, lightweight stuff -- this guitar weighs about the same as a 30s Martin) but because of the bracing and build style, the material is well-used and the sound is big, wide, and full.

1960s Kay Resonator Tenor Banjo

This tenor was just in for setup and adjustments but also got a new bridge and light fret level/dress, too. I think Kay was smart to follow Gibson's original 1920s path when they made their later tenor banjos in using guitar tuners -- I mean, why not? They're practical, and it's not as if it's that hard to make a good-looking headstock to use them with. Oh -- tradition!

Though this long scale (23") tenor is bruised and battered, after dialing it in the sound is that percussive, mids-sweet, "floppy" sound that I really like for chord-chomping on a tenor banjo. This one doesn't have that obnoxious high-end zing that you sometimes get with less-fancy resonator tenors.

Workshop: Danelectro Bridge Mods

I've been playing my '58 Dano hard for a while, now, and over time I've been modding-out its shortcomings (I know, why mod an old one -- well, because I love the feel and sound and don't care about the value dropping).

After putting together that "Keith" Tele for a friend of mine, I lusted after some snappy country-ish bridge pickup sounds, so I installed the neck pickup version of the one I used on the "Keith" guitar in the bridge position (complete with metal surround) to emulate the sound a bit. The soundclip above demos the sound straight into the computer. Note that when I rewired the controls I used 1 meg pots to keep all that gorgeous Dano-style treble intact.

After that I dug the old original Dano bridge out and made it useful, too.


Saturday Post?

Been very busy -- lots of very, very nice gear finished -- lots I want to share -- and you'll see most of it on Saturday. Above is a pic that my buddy Rick Redington shot at Heather's The Wild Fern this evening. Much fun was had by all -- even that poor old '67 Fender.