6/28/2009

c.1925 Bruno "Maxitone" Tiple


This tiple has been a long haul and now it's finally done (I know -- another tiple?!) and I must say I'm happy with how it came out. I've been working on this for a customer and it's needed a new bridge, neck reset, brace re-glues on the back, a new nut, setup, finish resto, etc. Here's a video to hear (and see) it in action:




Top close-up.


Headstock. New bone nut, a bit of mahogany overlay to hide some holes drilled in the headstock near the nut, and of course the tuners have all been thoroughly cleaned and restored to good order.


Brass frets on a faux-ebony (probably pearwood) fretboard with MOP dots.


Binding and soundhole binding recall early Harmony instruments (I think this was built by Harmony c.1925/1930).


Bound top and back... and the back and sides are birch, as is the neck (I believe).


Back. The finish was all scratched up and scuffed and had some paint splatter before... a lot healthier now.


Detail.


Here are those tuners. These sets are a lot more compact than their Regal counterparts of the time.


Side.


And here's that new bridge again, this time under tension.

6/26/2009

Tiple Terrors


After browsing for tiples I picked this old Regal up. Its binding and overall visual style are practically the same as one of my soprano ukes (and the neck is nice and wide) so I'm going to be keeping this one for myself in favor of the Wizard I showed you all earlier. Unfortunately, it lost its original glued bridge to "structural failure" and some fellow bolted the bridge back on, only to rip off again and take bits of the soundboard with it. I've since repaired the cracks and filled the holes and installed a mandolin-style rosewood bridge and tailpiece with some custom loop-end strings. The nut is new, too, but the rest is original. I'm going to either find a fun vintage decal or paint some sort of fun scene to cover up the rough soundboard under the bridge.


Fun multicolored binding.


Slotted headstock (a bonus in my opinion) with a wide (new) bone nut.


Mahogany back and sides.

And now for some "catching up" ---


This is the same maple bridge I fabricated and glued to a customer's tiple that's currently being restored. Since the last photos I've "stained" it black ("ebonized") like in the old days, varnished it (like in the old days) and then weathered it similar to other tiple bridges I've seen (as in the passing of the old days to the new...).


I think the effect isn't half bad! At a glance it's hard to distinguish it from other tiple bridges. It's a shame that the grime that accumulated on the instrument over time managed to remain in places where the finish had worn through (ie, under the bridge), but it all adds up to "authenticity" -- no?

c.1950s Harmony Baritone Ukulele


This is a nice early 1950s Harmony baritone uke made entirely from solid mahogany save the rosewood bridge and fretboard. It's all-original save new pegs (original buttons) and has a bone saddle and nut. It also (now) plays great and sounds fabulous. What more?


Decoration is simple: tortoise binding on the top and a simple, tasteful rosette recalling Martin ideals.


Unadorned peghead shows off some mahogany grain. This old-timey Harmony logo is far better than the space-age 1960s one.


Brass frets on a rosewood board. MOP dots? I think.


Rosette.


Bridge is a cool lighter-colored rosewood that actually looks an awful lot like the mahogany around it in color tone. The sound is all-rosewood though! Bone saddle. The craftsmanship on this uke is good: it's lightweight, responsive, pretty loud, and is built very well.


Overview.


Side. The original finish is in decent shape, too.


Tortoise binding.


Back.


Tuners: new Grovers with the original buttons. There were screws broken in the shafts on the old ones.


Back.


Side.

6/25/2009

c.1925 P'MICo Soprano Ukulele


This is a nice, no-frills soprano made entirely out of birch but super-lightweight, resonant, and comfortable to play. It came out of repair and setup a great little uke! It has celluloid top binding, but contradicting this is a painted rosette. I've reset the neck on this, polished up the frets, reglued (and repaired) the bridge including a new bone-simulant saddle, and installed some new tuners, as well as the usual restoration work. Overall? A "sleeper."


Fun black marks in the wood -- perhaps a diseased tree?


Headstock.


Soundhole. These were built by Regal, I believe, for the "Progressive Musical Instrument Corporation." All the lines and construction are typical for Regal.


Newly reglued/repaired bridge. Note the mahogany "cap" at the slots.


And here's why it's capped: I had to splice in a new center section as the center of the bridge was missing. The rest is original, however. Works fine and is stronger than original, now! The new saddle gives it some oomph, too.


Top detail.


Side.


Back.


New Grover tuners.

6/19/2009

c.1935 Slingerland "Songster" Archtop Guitar


After a week's overhaul in the shop this delectable archtop is all set and ready to go. This is a mid to late 1930s Slingerland "Songster" archtop and has the typical features of the model: solid spruce top, 3-ply curly/figured maple back and sides, a solid maple neck, and a heck of a lot of "cool" oozing from everywhere. This one doesn't have its pickguard anymore, and has a new end pin and new Kluson-style tuners, but otherwise is all original. The bridge is rosewood, the fretboard is too, it's bound top, back, and fretboard, has MOP dots, a "Slingerland" stamped tailpiece, and plays beautifully (well, it does now anyway).


This guitar had loads of scuffs, nicks, scratches, etc. that needed to be removed and/or minimized. After doing that, I rubbed a new topcoat on the neck, front, and back to bring some shine around after all the cleaning. It's got a sort of lovely subdued velvety look too it, now, and proudly shows years and years of good play.


The headstock is inlaid with pearloid of different colors that has aged a bit. Originally it would've been silvery-gold and bright green. The nut is bone.


Fretboard with nice side-dots and binding. These frets all needed a lot of work. This was evidently used by a fret-grinding player. Strangely enough, after setup, all you need is a very light touch and light picking to get this thing very alive. Driven, it has that oncert archtop tone: projection, projection, projection! The sustain and resonance is unreal, however: if I talk in the room, even 10 feet away, this thing starts echoing and vibrating sympathetically. It's almost spooky.


The finish has aged-in from a "cremona brown" sunburst to a cherry/orange-yellow sunburst that I think suits is just fine.


Great lines. From the split F holes, my guess is that this guy was made by Kay or Harmony for Slingerland.


Adjustable rosewood bridge. Note the different color strings: these are a "test set" of spares: I'll be putting on some new John Pearse 80/20s in a bit.


Tailpiece.


This tailpiece was entirely rusty and flaking before polishing: now I can actually read that "Slingerland, Chicago" stamp!


Front.


These are some new Kluson style "Wilkinson Deluxe" tuners. I love these things: feel just like nice old Klusons. The original tuners were fried.


Neck.


Neck joint is strong.


Back.


Back again.


Side...


Side detail... notice use wear.


Nice figure in that wood.


Action is 1/8" at the 14th on the treble and just a hair above 1/8" on the bass.


Other side.


Other side detail...


And tailpiece with new Martin-style end-pin.