6/01/2011

c.1925 Stromberg-Voisinet Hawaiian Guitar


UPDATE: Forgot to mention the tone -- very warm and sweet, bluesy sort of tone. Top has great stability for higher tunings (ie, I like open E a lot on it). Since posting I've added a K&K "Big Spot" pickup with endpin jack. Sounds fantastic! This would be a great little gigging workhorse.

Oh this poor, poor, poor guitar. I bought this a while back and it's been sitting around as a cadaver for some time. It was really, really beat up -- bridge off, no tuners, cracks everywhere, the back practically entirely off from the sides, and the sides bulging away from the top kerfing and taking part of the top away with it.

After much gluing, a parts-bin ebony bridge, new rosewood nut, and some semi-period tuners salvaged from my "broken parts" collection (all shafts needed replacing as these were the old, non-screwed-in type of tuner shaft, which invariably starts to slip out over time and cease to function). Luckily, gears and shafts from various disemboweled 60s Japanese tuners worked perfectly and these tuners now function just as well as a brand new set of Grovers. I was determined to lowball this one in terms of parts, considering its condition.


I've set this guitar up for lap/Hawaiian (ie, with a steel & raised strings) style play, as that's more than likely what it was intended for to begin with, and even if I reset the neck, the neck angle would be pretty bad... ie... just not worth the trouble to make this work as a "Spanish" guitar.

Wood is solid birch throughout, stained in a "koa" tone. Binding is real wood rope binding, missing in a few places, but more or less there. The fretboard is some sort of dyed hardwood.


Note the new, high, rosewood nut. Brass-plate tuners look the part. I love these Kay "Gumby"-ish headstocks. Right -- sorry about that -- this was made by Stromberg-Voisinet (later, Kay) around c.1925 or so.


Pearl dots.


New ebony bridge. Salvaged bridge pins... plastic but Micarta-ish saddle.


This used to be branded "Clifford" on the interior.


Cool rope binding.



Fun embossed/pressed floral detail.



It'd be easy to mistake this as a grungy form of low-grade koa from a distance.



There are those cobbled-together tuners.

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