1/29/2010

c.1925 Stromberg-Voisinet Hawaiian "Parlor" Guitar


Heck yeah! What a cool guitar! You can find these fellows off and on in online auctions, but they're usually totaled or full of basket-case issues. This one's in quite fine condition and plays nice and easy, with the only apparent damage being a 1 1/2" long hairline that I've repaired on the back. In addition, I've reglued (and recut) the bridge and installed a new saddle, as well as the usual cleaning, setup, yack, yack.

These were made by Stromberg-Voisinet (later Kay) in the 1920s (and I think 1930s, to some extent, too?) and featurea all-solid mahogany body. The neck looks like some indeterminate hardwood. The sound is open, bluesy, and balanced, but lacks the big warmth of a spruce top instrument. It's a sound that suits fingerpickers and fingerstyle players quite well, as muddy notes on a typical spruce top become clear and ringing on one of these guys.


Headstock is very cool, with a slotted-style for the tuners, but with the slots only going halfway through the headstock. This certainly adds strength and an upscale look. Headstock is bound in celluloid.


Fretboard is covered in white pearloid with black pearloid or black MOP dots (not sure which). It's bound with white celluloid and sports some original, a bit worn, but in good shape nickel-silver frets.


The pickguard is celluloid and is actually inlaid into the wood like old mandolins! But, of course, time has raised it just a hair on the soundhole side where you can feel it raised a bit.


This bridge is actually rosewood, and I've reglued it. For whatever reason, makers would often stain or paint their rosewood bridges to look like ebony... which is what has happened here. I've re-profiled the top of it to be lower and installed a new fret-saddle at a compensated angle which has helped intonation. I've re-stained the part that I modified so as to appear as original as possible. The bridge pins are all original except for one, which I pulled from my parts bin and trimmed to fit.


Of course, the coolest part about this guitar is that super-awesome decal they splattered all over the front, of the perfect vacation... I mean... tropical beach... far from this frigid Vermont winter... so far away... so warm...

But I digress... it also has inlaid marquetry around the edge of the body and around the soundhole, too, which is typical for this brand, but looks quite the ticket.


Top down.


Back.


Headstock rear. Nice original tuners.


Comfortable v-neck with heel cap. While there appears to be paper-thin separation for the last 1/4" at the heel, it's an illusion, as the dovetailed neck slots for these only went about 2/3 of the way down from the top, with the remaining bit unglued.


Back is one piece of mahogany, just like the top, and has some purty grain here and there.


Side.


Detail.


Other side.


...


Here you can see the neat looks of the bound headstock.

2 comments:

Randy said...

You know what is really cool about this? The fact that I have been searching all over the internet for one that looks similar to my great-grandfathers guitar. Finally found it after about 2 years of searching! Everything is identical to his. The trim, fretboard, missing pickguard... wow.

Unknown said...

Do you know what these are worth? Found a similar one in pretty good shape in a buddies collection that he's trying to liquidate.