5/17/2013

c.1910 B&J "University" Concert Parlor Guitar




This handsome guitar is slightly smaller than a Martin 0 with 13 1/4" lower bout and a more squashed body. It's branded "Univeristy" and sold through B&J (Buegeleisen & Jacobsen, a big instrument sales outfit), but my guess is that this is Chicago-made and Lyon & Healy in origin (whether that be made by Regal for Lyon & Healy... not sure?).

Update: On second thought, the body shape is pretty reminiscent of Oscar Schmidt designs, too.

The bracing, body shape, neck shape, headstock shape, and overall build remind me most of nicer Lakeside and plainer Washburn instruments which were both concurrent Lyon & Healy brand lines at the time. No matter the origin, though, this was probably a relatively pricey guitar for something "off brand" compared to Martin, Washburn, Gibson, or other more famous makers.

It has rather fancy detailing -- lots of purfling and inlaid stripes and lots of celluloid, which at the time was a novelty and seen as fancy -- and nicer-than-usual materials. The neck is Spanish cedar (as opposed to poplar or birch which most Chicago makes used), the top is solid spruce, the headstock has a rosewood veneer and the fretboard (under all that celluloid) is actually rosewood, too. The original bridge was rosewood as well but was cracked up. The back and sides on this appear to be stained birch as opposed to a fancier wood, though.


I'm glad I caught the last bit of sun for these front shots. It pulls out some of the nice well-aged-in looks of this instrument.

I'd purchased this guitar almost a year ago but let it sit for a long time because I was reluctant to start in on it. Some silly fool had poorly reglued (if you can call it that) the endblock so there was a lot of undoing to get started on repairing that and while it's structurally secure, it's not perfectly pretty down there. Other work included a new rosewood bridge and ebony pins, neck reset, seam repairs, center seam top cleats, fret level/dress and related fret work, general cleaning, and setup. I also drop-filled a number of pretty stable back hairline cracks.


Original bone nut and rosewood headstock veneer. This is your typical 1 3/4" nut.

While this was probably strung with gut or nylon to begin with it seems to have been used with steel most of its life without adverse neck effects. The belly-style bridge I installed lets this get strung up with extra-light (46w-10) steel strings which sound warm, sweet, and mellow on this box. It has a great tone for folky fingerpicking or blues and nails that sort of punchy but warm ragtime tone as well. It plays with spot-on 3/32" bass, 1/16" treble at the 12th fret action and the 24 1/4" scale makes it a quick reach.


The third dot is a replacement. Check out that cool yellowy-orangey pearloid -- really fun stuff. The frets are typical for the time -- lower than modern frets but still with a good amount of life left. Also note how this board is actually bound with additional celluloid. Pretty slick!


The three-ring rosette is really sweet! I love how this guitar is edged and bound everywhere with that faux-tortoise celluloid. It really grabs the sun nicely when this is out in it. Don't you love all that half-herringone all over the place?


The new rosewood bridge is compensated for good intonation. I used some nice ebony pins on this guy, too.



The sides have tons of scuffs and scratches and scrapes and finish wear but don't have any cracks.


The tuners are all-original except for two gears and machine screws which I had to replace as they were missing. They're lubed and work just fine.



The dark, almost black, finish of the back and sides gives nice contrast to the warmed in buttery-orange color of the top. See all those filled-in hairlines on the bass-side back? They're stable (there's 4 back braces holding them from getting worse) but that's typical dryness-over-time cracking.



The neck reset gave this back its proper angle and it's all good to go.




Pearl-dot original endpin. Here you can see some of the leavings of shoddy earlier work -- a tiny bit of lost binding, a tiny splintered-out bit of the side near the endstrip top, and slightly mismatched seams. Everything went back together nice and tight, though, so it'll be good to go for the future.

I wish I'd taken a "before" picture -- it was pretty funny -- someone must have attempted a "repair" minus any sort of clamps!


Here's the label in the soundhole.

2 comments:

Charlie said...

So the saw kerfing is the same top and bottom and does not point to Oscar Schmidt made?

Antebellum Instruments said...

Right, both are triangular. I still think this is a L&H product, for what it's worth.