c.1885 Lyon & Healy Lakeside Parlor Guitar

Please excuse my banjo overdose for the last few posts -- but when it rains, it definitely pours! Today I have something special for you: my favorite guitar ever. It's not fancy, it's not big, and it's not super-loud, but it hits close to home for my taste and my hands -- and they're gonna hold onto it!

This is a mid-to-late 1880s "parlor" guitar made by Lyon & Healy and branded (literally) with the Lakeside name -- one of their entry-to-mid-level lines. It has what looks like an Adirondack spruce top, quartersawn oak sides, oak back, and a neck of some indefinable wood (it looks like several different things to me, so I won't take a guess!).

It was built for gut strings and is lightly transverse-braced which brings out a very full, rich, and bell-like tone in the top register, and a warm tone in the lower register. I've got Aquila nylguts on it, which really bring out some decent volume. It competes very favorably with similarly-sized steel strings of the era that I've had a chance to play. On a sidenote: check out that grain on the headstock!

I'm really not sure what the fretboard is made of -- but it's some sort of dyed wood, perhaps pearwood (which would be typical). The bridge and nut are genuine ebony, though, as are the bridge pins (which are replacements).

No binding whatsoever -- I love the clean and simple look! The soundhole rosette is a nice red/green/white/black mix, and you can see it better if you click the image to enlarge it. Very tasteful and elegant.

Here's the Lakeside brand in the soundhole -- and also a previously-repaired crack that was there when I got it.

Ebony bridge with original bone saddle.

And as you can see, the finish is in superior shape!

I've restored these tuners and their bone buttons. After removing the tarnish, the aged-in brass looks excellent! These old tuners also work fabulously well, which I can't say about a lot of modern tuners.

Heel join is nice and tight with an ebony cap.

And here you can see the lovely quartersawn oak. I'm used to seeing this on Bob's Hoosier cabinets in the store, but not on instruments as often.

Full back.

Back of headstock.

The oak back is equally as impressive and all the oak gives this guitar a very interesting color (and tone).

Full side.

Ebony strap button and insert looks very nice.

All in all, I'd have to say that this guitar is not for everyone, but for my relatively slow fingerpicking and as backup to my voice, I think this is just about perfect. I really love the sound of the nylguts, and in fact, all of these old American guitars built specifically for gut -- it's a very powerful, encompassing, but also delicate tone. Very different from steels of a couple decades in the future and Spanish-style classicals. Here's a video of my song "Home to Be" played on it:


Anonymous said...

Jake I sure did injoy the song and guitar . very soothing music. Richard Murrison

Anonymous said...

jake i have a lake side tenor banjo . do you know anything about them , thanks richard murrison. sgmurrison@valornet.com

Jeremiah said...

Hi Jake, I possibly have an old Vega parlor and was wondering if you might know anything about them. Would love some help. Thanks! miahkirby@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I HAVE THIS EXACT SAME GUITAR!!!! i am so pleased to know i am not the only one. I actually have 2 columbia parlor guitars. thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I have a Lakeside Guitar and have just kept it for years. I have people that want to buy it, and I just don't know what I would take for it....Any idea what the value might be for future help?

E. Harris said...

Love the song, love the guitar. The quartersawn oak simplicity reminds me of Stickley and mission furniture.

Antebellum Instruments said...

E Harris: Thanks!! And yes, the guitar has that cozy old-timey feel, just like an old mission chair. Love it to death.

rerawho said...

I really enjoyed the song and enjoyed hearing your guitar. I key in this comment just after looking at my latest aquisition. A relative found a twin to your guitar in Orlando Fl. at a garage sale for $1.00. I came down here from Rockford Il. on vacation to pick it up. The bridge needs to be re-glued but other than that is in verrry good shape. I will have it professionally restored. I'm very excited.

old doc kerr said...

how do you clean the brass but noy get it too shiny?

Anonymous said...

Flitz Polish is the best brass cleaner. You get it at the marine boating stores. I used it on a 1925 Bosendorfer piano and it came out unbelievable. Old tip from a master piano restorer.