4/29/2012

c.1920 Fancy Unmarked Portuguese Guitar


This is a beautiful example of an earlier (smaller, 17 1/4" scale, narrow 1 1/2" nut) Portuguese guitar. It's in really great shape with the exception of damage to one side of the scroll headstock and a few hairline cracks (repaired) on the back and treble side. The top has no cracks.

My work included repairing the back hairlines and also cleating/repairing the side hairlines, cleaning, setup, fret work and fret level/dress, tuner lube, and a replacement bridge. It now plays beautifully with a hair over 1/16" action at the 12th fret and a slick, quick feel.

've strung it with a light 12-string guitar set (I pop the ball ends out and then make 2nd loops on the other end) which allows for tunings of GCFBbDG ("terz") or ADGCEA ("quart") guitar tunings as well as a variety of open tunings. GDGBDG (open D raised to G pitch) sounds extra nice on this. While not traditional (trad. tuning would be DABEAB bass to treb) this allows for easy fingering if you're already a regular guitarist and also gives the instrument an extended range vs. standard Fado tuning.


The soundboard is in great shape. With all that "extra string length" below the bridge, Portuguese guitars tend to be rich in overtones and lingering sustain.


The fretboard appears to be olive wood to my eyes, but may just be some form of rosewood. The inlay is a sort of ivoroid-y material. Note the M&J inlays -- cool!

The frets are all brass bar stock with the exception of the first three which appear to be mostly copper!


Brass "peacock" (clock key style) tuners work great even after all this time. Note the brass nut which is necessary to hold the strings against the sideways tension of those outer tuner hooks.


I reprofiled a tall ebony/maple banjo bridge to stand in or the original (probably bone or rosewood) bridge. This works nicely (and looks cool, too) since it's so lightweight and the original bridge probably was as well. A lightweight bridge brings that full, ringing, zinging tone right to the fore.


Nice simple soundhole rosette, too.


The "rope" binding on the top edge is a really nice touch.



Nice mahogany on the sides, huh?



The breathtakingly pretty mahogany on the rear might be curly Cuban or Honduran mahogany since it's so orangey in color and curly.



There are three fairly long hairline cracks on the back but they've all been filled and were pretty tight to begin with.




It's hard to see but there's also a patched hairline crack (2 of them, actually) towards the neck block on this side. I cleated them as well and they're all good to go.


I like the contrasting endstrip!

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