6/18/2015

1930s/2015 Oahu Electrified Parlor Guitar




Update: This came back in trade so I took some new pics.

This poor old Oahu has been gracing my "wallhanger" display for a while. I decided to give it a go and reset the neck (bolted conversion), took off the old aluminum bolted-on bridge, gave it a fret level/dress, added a tailpiece, made a quick bridge, and picked out an old Strat-style pickup from my bins and fit it to the guitar.

As an acoustic (with 50w-11 nickel strings) it has a good old-timey, bluesy sound with a tad of extra warmth... just like you'd expect from a short-scale (24 1/4") parlor with ladder bracing and a trapeze setup. As an electric, it has a sort of 40s Vega archtop electric sound to it. A Strat pickup mounted on a hollowbody in the neck position definitely has a bit of chime and sparkle but sounds much more breezy and warm. At any rate, that makes this a "two in one" guitar to my way of thinking: it's a good "take anywhere" small guitar to pick on, but it also plugs in and gives an entirely different (but equally fun) sound... and if you EQ it at the mixer-board just right, it'll give you a nice jangly 60s "soundhole pickup" sound.


The guitar is all-solid birch with a poplar neck and dyed-maple fretboard. My new bridge is rosewood. All the "binding" is painted-on.


This has a 1 3/4" nut (a new bone one, at that) and a medium V-shape to the neck. I'm leaning towards this guitar having been made by Kay for Oahu. The neck isn't as super-clunky like some Chicago V-necks can be, so your average modern player is not going to be too scared by its profile.


The (original) brass frets were nearly untouched (this was marketed as a Hawaiian and used as such for all its life thus far) and only needed a light level/dress after work. The dots are celluloid (I think) and I've added side dots as well.


Here you can see how I've altered the soundhole top to fit the pickup flush with the fretboard extension. I think it's a nice effect with the white-painted "rosette."

The finish is all original on this beast, though it is fairly worn. It's got no cracks, though, which is a plus.


My bridge is a simple rosewood one with compensation for a wound G string (to retain the acoustic punch of the instrument). I added a couple of tiny screws to keep it in place for raucous electric sessions. The tailpiece is from my parts bin -- though it's the second one to be on this instrument, apparently. It's a 30s-era tail.

Note also the three filled-in (quickly) holes from the old bolts that secured the cast-aluminum bridge that was on this for Hawaiian setup. Kinda ugly, but it's a simple guitar so it doesn't seem to mind.


I added a single volume pot with a nice old bakelite 30s knob attached.









My replacement Kluson-style tuners aren't "period" looking but they sure work well. At least the nickel matches the tailpiece.


The jack is a Switchcraft unit.


It has the typical Oahu burn-stamp in the soundhole.

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