4/07/2015

1910s Louis Sutz-made Unmarked 0-Size Guitar




I'm almost certain that this guitar was made by Louis Sutz in Cincinnati. It has all the hallmarks of the work I've handled of his and also seen on fleaBay and the like. The owner of this guitar (for whom I did work) thought it was a Galiano/New Jersey Italian-built job, but the build is entirely different. This is a stiffly-built, Germanic-style ladder-braced guitar that apes Martin quality but sounds more like a good Washburn (and has a similar bracing pattern to one). I'm sure it was built for gut in mind when it was new, but many years of steel stringing (at one point with a raised extender nut judging by the wear on the fretboard) haven't hurt it too much.

My work included regluing the bridge, a fret level/dress that also ameliorated some neck twist, a new bone saddle (and compensated saddle slot) and setup. It plays quite well and has a radiused board with a typical bigger V/C-shaped neck profile. Wood is solid spruce top over solid curly mahogany back and sides with a mahogany neck and Brazilian rosewood fretboard and bridge.




The guitar has some old repaired hairline cracks (with cleats, thankfully) and the entire thing is either refinished (a long time ago) or top-coated. This gives it a satin/worn look that's perfectly acceptable, though originally this would've been French-polished and sweetly-thin-coated.

The overall dimensions of this guitar are like a slightly-large 0-size with 13 3/4" on the lower bout.


Original bone nut and nice, plain-Jane but effective tuners.


The tiny, tiny fretstock is actually bar material which meant I didn't really want to do a refret to remove neck warp/twist as it would be quite time-consuming (and thus costly). This meant that in my level/dress I couldn't get rid of all the neck wonkiness but it was removed enough for it to play "just right" at 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble at the 12th fret.


Nice rosette and curled-in soundhole edge.

Note the wide ivoroid binding on the top edge that's "rolled over."


This bridge had some weirdness when it came in -- including an ugly shave job -- but I still managed to shave it down a little more, clean it up as much as I could, and install this new saddle on a compensated angle for the steel strings.

It's rocking 50w-11 on the 25" scale and the neck/top is nice and stable in service. The ivoroid pins appear to be original, too.




The mahogany used is pretty, pretty stuff.



The heel style is also similar to other Sutz guitars I've seen.






The flamey quality of the mahogany is really eye-popping on the sides. It's unfortunate that it really only pops up easily in the sun due to the over-finish.


An original endpin, too.

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