1/31/2013

c.1975 Alvarez Yairi DY 57 Dreadnought Guitar


Built like a fancier-looking Martin D-18, this mid-70s (low 16xxx serial number) Japanese-built Alvarez Yairi is a kick-butt dreadnought. It's not as complex as a similar-styled Martin or Gibson from the same time but it does have very strong fundamentals and a good thick bottom end with snappy highs.

My work (for a customer) was simply a fret level/dress, new bone saddle, and setup. It played pretty well (for a completely non-adjusted one-owner guitar) from the get-go which means that despite the evidence of lots of playwear, it's certainly been babied -- which is a good thing. I've seen guitars trashed by poor storage and carelessness far too many times!



This bridge had been amateurly "string ramped" beforehand, but I cut them out with a bit more definition so they wouldn't wear poorly. The new bone saddle replaced a (broken) synthetic one and the tone is much more responsive. At the same time I compensated the B-string slot area which helped with precise intonation.

As far as materials? Solid spruce top, mahogany back, sides, and neck and rosewood fretboard and bridge.


Check out the nice trim the Yairi workshop put on this guy... real snazzy.



The original frets leveled and dressed nicely.


Who doesn't like a backstrip?



Gold-plated rotomatics with a Martin-style "volute."




Email Switchover

I'm definitely going to be using my gmail.com account for all purposes until I can figure out what's going on with messages bouncing off of my server and undelivered messages. The links have been updated on this site but if you have my email address stored in your address book, please update it to: 

jakewildwood[at]gmail.com

...where [at] = @

Clippings: Kay Bowed Ads (c.1940-41)


This first photo was from a 1941 Presto article on how Mr. Bolognini was so excited about the new "American" Kay cellos, all laminate of course, and how they're just as good as (carved) European imports. I might disagree with that, but the part I will agree with is that they sure are durable and practical and sound just fine. The gist of the article was that he was glad to have them about, because with the war going on "across the pond," access to new European imports wasn't there.


I spied this Kay upright ad in another Presto from 1940. It's just too vintage-cool not to pass on.

As always, the "clippings" posts usually originate from screen grabs of MTR/Presto archives material.

1/30/2013

c.1994 Guild F5CE Thinline Jumbo Cutaway Guitar


This is a very interesting guitar being a cutaway jumbo instrument (16" lower bout) with 3" depth sides. Because it has that typical Guild arched back, it actually feels almost like playing a cutaway archtop guitar (which usually have side depths of around the same) rather than a flattop. Phsyically, as far as playing comfort and "size in the lap" goes, this is really a winner. The narrower "jumbo" waist but wider lower bout gives a sort of 000 tonality while the thinner depth combined with the arched back and cutaway gives a compressed, very fundamental sound overall. It's like a hybrid of a really good flattop 000 tone with the clarity and fundamentals of a good archtop tone... and judging by how the soundclip for this one came out, it records phenomenally easily as well.

If you're interested at all, I'm also updating the post for this guitar's "sister" instrument, a full-depth cutaway jumbo (click here) the FF5CE.

Work on the guitar included a light fret level/dress, adjusting/installing string ramps at the bridge, and slight setup at the nut and saddle. It plays nicely with "spot on" action (1/16" treble, 3/32" bass) at the 12th fret sporting regular light 54w-12 gauges. The neck is slim and very fast like a 60s Gibson which means that cutaway portion will more than likely get used since this is a great guitar for lead work. Acoustic volume is also very good, but it has an onboard Fishman undersaddle unit as well with EQ on the side.



Gold hardware, classy Guild detailing at the headstock.


Rosewood board and bridge. Inlaid pearl dots.


I love the oval soundhole which echoes that gypsy-jazz Selmer-Mac look, especially combined with the cutaway.


Solid spruce, x-braced top.


This guitar is exceptionally clean.


This has Indian rosewood back and sides and a mahogany neck. I'm not sure about the sides, but the back is definitely laminate in typical Guild fashion which supports the press-arched mold they use.






The rosewood on this is quite pretty with a lot of nice contrasting "lining."




Did I mention the original Guild hard case in good shape? Nice.

Email Troubles

For whatever reasons, it seems like my regular email:

jake[at]thewildwoodflower.com

...has been having trouble. If you need to get in touch with me quickly, please use my alternate email:

jakewildwood[at]gmail.com

Both of these are where [at] = @

Parts! Gibson ES-225 Tailpiece & Double Ring Gibson Deluxe Tuners


A friend of mine recently brought in a 60s Kay archtop (destroyed) that, surprisingly, had these parts on them. This first piece is a combination tailpiece and bridge as seen on Gibson ES-225s and also early Les Paul models. The screws and tailpiece/bridge itself is original but I've cobbled together some new adjustable "legs" since the originals were missing.


Patent stamp on the tailpiece. Note that I'm not sure but I think this tailpiece hanger was "flattened" at the usual "hinge" area. This can be knocked back into an angle but I'll leave that to the new owner. The original nickel-plating on the tailpiece is a little tarnished but looks nice.


Strings mount through the front, here, then wrap up and over the compensated top. The arm length of this tailpiece is roughly 8 1/2" to 9" and adjustable. With the bend "bent back out" at the hanger you could get about an extra 3/8" to 1/2" of use.


Here's my solution to the missing bridge feet... and it works! This would probably need to be modified for a Les Paul-style top to get the height just right, though. All that would need to be done is to cut down the length of the bolt threads.


...and here's a full set of late 60s, early 70s Gibson Deluxe Kluson-made tuners. These are called "double ring" types because the greenish keystone buttons have two "rings" at the bottom rather than the more usual one. They're all in good shape and they work just fine but one button shaft has a small bend to it.


Typical patent stamp on the back.


Complete ferrule set, but no original screws.



Here's the "double line" Gibson Deluxe script.

1/28/2013

Clippings: They Sell Every Time! (c.1927)



I love this ad. I wish it were true, but I still love the ad!

And on another note, to anyone who picked up an instrument from me in the last few days: they'll all get shipped tomorrow, so fear not for your packages! We had some snow today so I didn't want to leave the stuff out on the porch for pickup just to get soaked.

c.1935 Harmony-made Supertone Roundhole Archtop Guitar


This guitar bears a Supertone (Sears) brand name in the soundhole but it's obviously a Harmony make. Sometimes these have Harmony-style date stamps in them but this one doesn't. Still, it was probably built around 1930-35. This type of Harmony guitar seems to have been based on the early Martin archtops of the same time as they're around the same dimensions and body shape as the early archtop Martins and share their round soundholes.

Unlike a Martin, though, this is a much more budget guitar: the woods are all-solid but the body is all birch and has a pressed (rather than carved) top, the neck is made from poplar, and the fretboard and bridge appear to be some sort of dyed hardwood (typical). The binding is real celluloid but the fret markers are painted-on stencils.

After all the work was done on this guitar, it's come out an extremely loud, vibrant, and punchy instrument. It cuts really well and has a good, full, swing-era tone. I think in the hands of a swing guitarist or gypsy-jazz guitarist this would really shine, but it does the blues and "old country" as well.


The only unoriginal parts on this are this new bone nut and a replacement endpin. Check out the extremely faded Supertone label at the headstock's top. This has a modern-feeling 1 11/16" nut width which means the bigger, v-shaped neck is still quite comfortable playing chords and lead up and down the length of it.


This is roughly 00-size.

The guitar had some previous "work" done to it including some workmanly but messy seam repairs and a neck reset, but there was much to be done! I had to reglue all the top braces as they were loose on the bass side, recut a botched setup job on the bridge, cleat and glue up a couple top cracks and fill a back crack, reglue some side seams, lube the tuners, level and dress the frets, make and install a new nut, raise the tailpiece, and of course clean and set it all up.

Just FYI, the top bracing is curious in that it's "banding" instead of more typical braces. They're thin and wider like extra-wide bridge plates.


Original frets leveled out nicely.


This original, non-adjustable bridge had been cut down and messed-about before I fixed the guitar. I had to fill some too-deep slots, reprofile it, and then recut the slots for proper action.

And speaking of action -- it's spot-on and quick, 1/16" on the treble and 3/32" on the bass at the 12th fret. This guitar has a longer (for the time) 25 1/8" scale which means that, with the unreinforced neck and light build, a set of 50w-11s sounds and feels just right, though this would probably do alright with 12s as well.


Bound soundhole and top edge with a fun, cutout pickguard.


The tailpiece, and the finish for that matter, is pretty distressed but also looks very cool with all that wear. Note that I had to raise the mounting on this tailpiece a little bit to keep the bottom of it off the top when the strings are at tension. Generally, if the bottom of trapeze tailpieces rests on the top at all, the guitar develops all sorts of ugly buzzing at the tailpiece.








Black-finished sides and two-tone sunburst top and back.




These original tuners lubed up just fine and work well.


Replacement old plastic endpin.


Here's the slightly washed-out label in the soundhole.