2/11/2012

c.1885 Lyon & Healy "Lakeside" Parlor Guitar


This guitar is exactly the same model as my own 1880s Lyon & Healy "Lakeside" gut-strung guitar, which is the best nylon/classical style instrument I've ever played/owned and remains my "magic" songwriting tool upstairs in the living room.

However... this one has been heavily modified vs. the original build. A fellow Vermonter chop-shops old guitars and I had worked on this one for a customer before. The original bracing had been removed and replaced with somewhat heavy x-bracing, refinished or oversprayed the top, and repaired a couple hairline cracks as well as replacing the nut, bridge, and end-strip. The setup was okay but because the x-bracing favored steel strings the neck had warped a little at the 1-3 frets with the regular 54-12 lights that had been installed. In addition the heavy bracing really stifled tone and it had quite a shrill sort of sound.

So... working through the soundhole with a whittling knife I managed to remove more than half of the excess brace material. I couldn't believe how much I took out. The floor was littered with it. At any rate, after that and a little setup and extra-light 48w-10 strings, it sounded nice as a fingerpicker -- like an old small-body Martin 2-17 and with a similar wide but very shallow and v-shaped neck (comfortable!).


At any rate, I got this instrument in a trade recently and have again set to work tidying it up even more. I dressed the frets to remove much of the warp in the first three frets (by lowering them and also lowering the extension frets to make a more level board) and set it up again, this time with an even lighter set of 46w-10 with a plain G string (though a wound 20 would work for it, too) to relieve even more tension.

The result is a guitar that plays great (3/32" action at the 12th), especially for fingerpicking and in alternate tunings, and is holding up with the extra-light steel strings just fine.

This body shape is super rare to find in a format able to be equipped with any sort of steel -- it's a body shape more familiar to the 1840s-60s rather than the 1880s-90s among Martin and a few other American makers.



The chop-shop fella also installed these MOP dots, which aren't "original issue."


The soundhole rosette is awfully pretty -- green, yellow, red, and black and inlaid.


While the replacement bridge isn't quite the right color, the pyramid style looks nice and the compensated bone saddle is pretty good!




The back and sides on this guitar are solid oak and it has no binding whatsoever (understated)!


The tuners are brass-plate types from around c.1900-1910 or so. The originals would have had bone buttons with slightly fancier plates.




Neck set is really good.




There are a couple of small screw holes in the back of the headstock -- maybe for a strap hanger at one point?


I love the oak back!


The replacement end-strip was left natural, but I sanded it down and then stained it black-ish to look more like what the original would have been. Note the added modern strap buttons to the end-pin area and also at the neck heel. Functional!

1 comment:

Ron Rawhoof said...

I have an identical Lakeside. It was found at a garage sale in Orlando Fl. a year ago for $1.00. I had a luthier in Chicago go over it and he replaced the fretboard/frets, bridge/saddle, nut, added a brace under the soundboard and fixed a few minor cracks. It needs a neck reset but I didn't want to invest the funds until I saw that this first stage restore turned out.
I use it as a slide right now but hope to have the neck reset when I have the funds to do it.