9/17/2014

c.1940 Favilla 0-size 14-fret Guitar




Update 2015: This guitar came back in trade and came back in the condition it went out in -- good health! I've replaced the old nut (it was getting worn out) and have given it a cleaning and fresh setup (it wears extra light 46w-10 strings) so I decided to re-record a soundclip and post new pictures.

I posted this 40s Favilla a while back but decided to entirely repost now that it's in the shop again. I previously worked on this for a customer but now it's back for resale as he's downsizing his collection. This time around I did all the work on it that I wanted to do in the past to turn it into a perfectly-playing guit. As a bonus it also sounds even fuller and more responsive than it did before which is extra icing on the cake.

This was made by Favilla in New York and the original tuners and basic build date it probably to the early-to-mid 40s. It's essentially Favilla's take on a Martin 0-18 14-fretter with a solid (Adi?) spruce top and solid mahogany back, sides and neck. The lower bout is 13 1/2" across and it has a 25 1/4" scale length. The top is fan-braced which gives it a sound somewhere between an x-braced small-body Martin on the low end and a ladder-braced parlor on the high end. You get a ton of rich sound but also more sustain and warmth/crunch vs. standard ladder bracing. It's also hecka loud for its size and suits fingerpicking astonishingly-well (sort of like a Larson-made guitar would).



Work included pulling the frets, leveling the board, refretting, a light bridge shave and new bone (compensated) saddle, bridge plate cap installed over the original bridge plate, tuner lube, small cleaning, and setup. It plays spot-on and sounds enormous for its size. I think the only direct comparison I can make is to a 1940s Martin 0-18 I played a while ago. This is full, loud, and compared to the x-bracing on the Martin, much more rich/sustained on the high end while a little more stark and up-front on the low-end.

The only issue with the guitar (now) is that the neck is relatively thin for its time and I can only suggest using extra lights (46w-10) or lighter gauges to keep this stable over time -- maybe 50w-11 for detuning. It doesn't really need anything heavier anyway as the long scale gives it plenty of drive/volume and the light bracing means the lighter gauges still drive the top nicely.


Rosewood-veneered headstock -- also check out the super-quality original Grovers! Aside from new frets, bone saddle, and endpin/bridge pins this guitar is otherwise original.


This has a fast 1 11/16" nut width, flat profile top to the board, and a thin (almost modern) C shape with just a hair of V in it to the back. In the hands this feels very similar to the Froggy Bottom that's also in the shop right now. You can play fast right up to the heel curve. I refretted with smaller modern banjo-style frets so it'd feel like the old, original ones.

One of the original pearl dots has a tiny chip out of it, by the way.




The pickguard and rosette are both very 40s-cool. The binding is also quite nice -- though it's slightly unattached (shrunk) at the bass waist top. Not noticeable...


This desperately needed a new compensated saddle after doing the neck work and at the same time I installed new ebony bridge pins.



You can see the body shape is very similar to a Martin 0-18 from the same time but the waist is maybe a hair wider and the shoulders a hair rounder.


The back has a couple repaired hairlines: one to the side of the center seam (about 3") and also an old reglue of the center seam towards the lower bout. Both are good to go and non-issues.

These tuners in themselves are worth a bit of dough these days. They work great.


The neck set is perfect and don't you love that triangular cut? Looks great.

As you can see the finish has weather-checked all over and has light scratching here and there throughout.






I added an ebony endpin to match the bridge pins.


It comes with an original chip case, too.

No comments: