c.1910 Unmarked 0-Sized Gut-Strung Guitar

This is a nice, 13 1/4" lower bout guitar, roughly 0-sized, and full of honest playwear. I have a hunch that this was either built by Regal or Lyon & Healy around 1905-10 or so, as it has that Chicago look (and L&H style back bracing). It was definitely not made for steel strings as the bracing is very light (two ladder braces above the bridge, none below) and thought it's survived being strung with steel plus a tailpiece for a lot of its life, I felt it best to return it to its original gut/nylon-strung configuration.

...and in the end? It's a nice, classical-ish-sounding instrument, warm and mellow and great for fingerpicking or relaxed strumming. Ideal to sing with, to sum it up. If you've never heard one of these guitars not abused by steel strings (the bulk of pin-bridge guitars for the most part were still built for gut up until the mid 1920s), do yourself a favor and get a listen in on one sometime. They sound great.

The rosewood pyramid bridge is a replacement. I reglued the cut-up pyramid-style original but it had a hairline crack I missed and when I strung it up it split in two, so I put on this repro pyramid after that. The saddle is bone and the pins are non-slotted ebony from StewMac.

Note the plain-wrap? Mahogany-ish? Rosewood-ish? ...fretboard and misc. hardwood nut. The tuners are lubed and function nicely though the treble side turns backwards. Fair enough!

Brass frets and celluloid dots.

Lots of patina, here! Check out the very cool super-multi-ply wooden purfling/rosette with its red accents.

New bridge looks great.

The top is solid spruce, and crack free. In fact, except for a couple repaired headstock hairline cracks, the entire guitar is crack free, which is a rare thing to find on one this old.

Back, sides, and neck are birch, but stained and painted to look like Brazilian rosewood.

This is the hairline headstock crack I repaired. Plenty sturdy.

And here's an old repair, slightly higher up, and also plenty sturdy.

Neck join is nice and tight and good to go. Guitar is bound on top/bottom with white celluloid.

Fun faux-rosewood back/sides.

There are three holes left over from the added-on tailpiece and a bit of a scuff/gouge, but all is good. Note the original end pin.


Franco said...

do you ever restore the finish? what do you use? I have experience with Minwax Antique Oil Finish. It has worked great in the past. Thanks!

Antebellum Instruments said...

I clean up the finish using various solvents depending on finish type but really don't refinish anything unless it's already been refinished in the past.

I think spots where pickwear has worn through, etc. add to the character that folks desire in old instruments.

Franco said...

Thanks for your answer Jake. I am just an enthusiast, not a pro. I admire your work my friend (luthier and music). I know that "refinishing" takes away the value, but I intend to play the instruments I get at garage sales, antiques shops, etc and sometimes there is so much grime on them that it takes away the fun! I have found that rubbing with 3M polishing compound can help to take away some of it (and I assume the patina too) so a lot of times I don't refinish the instrument after doing this.

Thanks again and God Bless You and Your Family!