9/24/2014

c.1925 Oscar Schmidt-made Galiano 0-size Parlor Guitar




This is a customer's old Oscar Schmidt (labeled Galiano) and it sure does sound good now that it's all in good order again. These typically have that sort of muted warm bluesy rumble about them that no other similar make from this time quite has. Hence the reason they're popular...

Anyhow, it got a whole bunch of work including a neck reset (and conversion to bolted-neck: see the end of the post for work-process photos), fret level/dress, bridge reglue, new bone nut and saddle, seam and brace reglues, a bit of cleaning, and of course a full setup. It plays spot on (3/32" bass and 1/16" treble at the 12th fret) with a set of 11s and could probably handle 12s just fine. It has an unusual scale for an OS running to 24 7/8" rather than 25" or over.


The top, back, and sides are all solid birch while the neck is poplar or similar and the board and bridge are both "ebonized" birch or maple.


The finish has alligatored, checked, and crackled all over just like I'd expect for an OS build. The new bone nut is a significant improvement to whatever chewy old wooden one might've come with this originally.


There are still a few Hawaiian "numbers system" scrawls left on the board's treble edge. Dots are pearloid material... and the frets are brass. I managed to remove a hair of warp in the neck via the fret level process, too.


The soundhole's edge is properly bound with celluloid but the rosette itself is a decal.


Two of these bridge pins were original and the rest were vintage bits hanging out in my parts-bin. 

And... while it doesn't look it... the saddle is compensated. When this guitar was made the bridge was actually glued slightly askew in favor of compensation so when I reglued and then enlarged the saddle slot to install a new bone saddle I didn't need to cut it at more of an angle than it already was at since I had enough room to dial the intonation in on the saddle itself.






This came to me with a clumsy hole drilled through the heel and a tiny bolt installed. I removed that and patched it, though  did use the pilot hole from the tiny bolt to install one of my own hanger bolts in the heel when I did the bolted-neck reset/conversion.




The tuners are 60s ones probably off a Harmony from my parts-bin. They're not perfect but they're closer to the vintage look than a set of shiny modern stuff. The original tuners that came with this instrument didn't have any of their gears or set-screws so they were useless as I didn't have any parts-bin units to fit the particular tuner design and so reuse them.



This vintage pin is from my parts-bin as well.


There's the bogus retailer Galiano label.


Here's some work shots during neck removal...


...and here's the cause of the neck troubles: look how straight the sides of that dovetail are! Don't let the shadow fool you: look at the wood-- they're cut straight like a tenon joint. Obviously that's not going to hold anything...


...even if you get the bright idea of regluing it with a shim! -- as was done here in the past.

I pulled the gross old shim off and the neck slid right in the joint like it was cut to be a tenon so when I reset/reglued the neck I also installed two hanger bolts in an over/under configuration that tighten up at the neckblock through the soundhole. Those, at least, will hold the neck nice and snug and the glue is just icing on the cake.


There were also a number of lightly-loose braces and seams to glue up on this guy.


Here's a trick to regluing loose braces when you don't want to open up the guitar and charge your customer an arm and a leg for all that extra time: clean out loose glue from the brace and under it with a seam separator and some sandpaper, pry up the brace and shoot glue under it, cut a bit of softwood (pine, spruce, cedar, whatever) scrap and wedge it against the brace's top and the top or back of the guitar, then sponge off to clean up (hadn't done that yet in this pic so you could see the glued area where it squeezed out). This serves as a "clamp" while the glue sets up.

This is pretty low-tech and comes with the risk of possibly adding a crack to whatever area of the guitar you wedge against (you have to use some common sense and "feel" what you're doing) but works to solve the issue most of the time. I try to wedge from one brace's back edge to another brace's back edge where possible so spread the tension out over a greater area of the top/back.

Doing this is funny because I have specialized clamping tools to do this work but I find this far more practical, faster and useful in most situations and it's pretty easy to pop these in one-handed all the way to braces near the endblock of the guitar. How you prep braces in those areas? Well... I've gotten used to it... but good luck! Minor arm and wrist acrobatics are necessary in this job.

1 comment:

Nicholas Ratnieks said...

I seem to recall that Nick Lucas said that when Gibson approached him to endorse their guitars he played a Galiano. I wonder if it was similar to this guitar? Nick Lucas did have other Gibsons he played over and above his signature model an L5 and a Gibson parlour guitar the model number I can't recall. I wonder if he kept the Galiano or had to turn it in!