3/04/2011

c.1900 Chicago-made? "Parlor" Guitar


This is a pretty beat-up old c.1900, probably Chicago-made, "parlor" (as we call them now) guitar. This style was among the first generation of [Sears, Montgomery Ward, etc.] catalog guitars specifically made with steel strings in mind -- note the tailpiece and floating bridge which removes a lot of up/forward-pull tension from the top of the guitar. Tone on these tends to be balanced, loud, and direct with plenty of projection. This has that.

Unfortunately, when I got the guitar it had received the attentions of an amateur repairman... yucky side seam glue jobs and back cracks full of glue. Probably in the 20s or 30s the braces went missing from the inside of the guitar and (typical for the 20s or 30s) glue jobs involving bits of scrap wood and fabric were used to reinforce some with-grain cracks down the back of the guitar. I addressed some of the other side seam issues, reglued some of the repairs coming apart, glued up some hairline cracks on the top, cleaned it up, and put it back together.

Ah, one more thing... previous owner glued the bridge to the top... but in the correct place for intonation... so fair enough!

The other big issue with the guitar is that the v-neck is somewhat warped, which makes the action around 3/16" at the 12th fret -- good for bottleneck slide, but not great for "Spanish" play. So... I popped on an extension nut and set it up as a Hawaiian guitar.




Setup as a Hawaiian (like many of these early steel stringers eventually were used for) this has a nice, gritty, powerful blues tone with nice cut. Our little babe loves listening to the sound this guitar produces. Huge smiles. Can't say I disagree... this guitar reeks of delicious old-timey tone.



Nice heavy-duty tailpiece (unlike the later, c.1910-1915 tailpiece which were similar but very thin).




Tuners work just dandy.






Oh, right! Woods: solid spruce top, birch back & sides, poplar neck.

2 comments:

Editor: Joshua Lee said...

Nice guitar! Looks like it has seen it's fair share of sweet music. Keep on playing music. I play Flamenco and Hawaiian Slack Key myself. Peace...

Antebellum Instruments said...

Yep, these old fellas are fun. :)