10/31/2010

c.1960 Di Giorgio (made in Brazil) Classical Guitar


This is a customer's full-size classical guitar, made by Di Giorgio in Brazil, and is a fantastic concert instrument with Brazilian rosewood back and sides. It's definitely seen a lot of wear and tear, but it's all still there, and the super-lightweight construction makes this a very "live" feeling guitar.


My work included a setup, reglue of some old glue jobs (cracks had opened up again and a top seam, too) and a slight saddle/bridge shave to bring the action down.


Fancy headstock.


Rosewood board and bridge. Side dots are a nice addition.




Guitar has a lot of fancy trim including rosewood binding and a bunch of purfling around the edges.




Headstock has impressed (or carved?) into it "Romeo Di Giorgio Sau Paulo" -- which I haven't seen on the back of other Di Giorgios I've seen.



10/28/2010

c.1925 Stromberg-Voisinet "Galiano" Mandolin


Forget the fake Italian name... this was made by Kay/Stromberg Voisinet in Chicago around c.1925-1930 or so. It's entirely made from solid mahogany, with a canted-top and flat back, and has that fun Venetian shape typical to Kay/SV instruments of various types from the time. While it feels on the small side to hold, it's got plenty of punch and a crisp, balanced tone, with that sweet warmth that you get from mahogany.

This is an instrument I worked on for a customer -- work included a neck reset, fret dress, new bridge and nut, and setup.



Gotta love the pearloid with the mahogany... sweet look.



New rosewood bridge. I may cut the top edge to line up with the slots a little better tomorrow.


Not only is this not an Italian style mandolin... it was also made in Chicago. Galiano, however, was a reseller, and popped this label right in.



The mando is in really great shape... no cracks at all and every brace was in good order. It's extremely lightweight and quite comfortable to hold.


Nice backplate for the tuners... I opened these all up and tightened everything... they were pretty loosey-goosey upon arrival.


At some point in its previous history, someone attempted to reset the neck by drilling a hole and installing a dowel. This -- sort of -- works, for a while, but then always loosens up down the line. What really needed solving was a bad dovetail joint, which once properly shimmed up to match the heel profile, will be stable for the foreseeable future.



Nice looking mahogany.




Luckily, it still has its tailpiece cover. Also: nice purfling around the edges! Both top, back, and fretboard are bound in cream celluloid, too.

c.Recent Bolivian Charango


Here's a nice little trade-in, built recently, in Bolivia. Charangos are wonderful little super ukulele-type instruments with family history rooted in the same instruments the uke was developed from... well... close enough anyway. Traditionally they've got armadillo-shell backs, but this one has the (more typical since the mid-1900s) one-piece carved wood back and neck. Sound is bright, jangly, sweet, and bouncy. These are great instruments for recording and strumming on long trips... both of which I've done with my own charango quite a bit.


Having an inlaid "pickguard" is typical on charangos because they get strummed heavily with the nails, as is the wide-grained pine top. These instruments are typically tuned, in unison, GCEAE from "low" to "high." The middle "E" pair, however, is octave tuned.

Clever uke players can switch the top high "E" set over to the bass side, and retune it down to a D, to get a DGCEA tuning, which shares the same intervals as a guitar (ie, guitar capoed at the 5th fret is tuned ADGCEA with the GCEA part of it the same pitch as a uke... so... if you're familiar with shapes on both uke and guitar adding an extra pair of strings on the bass side is no problem).


Charangos have a scale length that's right between a tenor uke and a baritone uke.



Good bridge.



See how cool that one-piece back/neck is?




The body shape of the carved charango mimics the original armadillo-shell types quite closely.

c.1930 Stromberg-Voisinet (Kay) Banjo Ukulele


Here's a customer's nice little 14" scale banjo uke with fancy pearloid fretboard and headstock. It's also got a mahogany 3-piece neck, mahogany pot with inlaid marquetry, and inlaid mahogany resonator. I was asked to set it up and that's what I've done... plays great and easy, sounds snappy and loud with good definition of notes (expected with a slightly longer scale) and has a lot of projection.

This was built by Kay in Chicago in the late 20s or early 30s. Before 1931 (I think it was?) they were known by "Stromberg Voisinet."


Original skin head... crudely patched at some point, but still holding on. This uke is all original.


Fun fretboard, and bound, too!


Don't get a match too close to that pearloid...



Really pretty resonator and woods on this uke.


Ah, misspoke... this is a 5-piece neck -- mahogany/maple/rosewood/maple/mahogany. Classier upscaled Grover "Champion" uke pegs.



Nice bit of birdseye veneer on this one.



It's pretty great that this uke still has all its hardware. Note that the neck was broken and repaired (crudely) at some point in the past.


Not a fan of this tailpiece style, but it is practical.