9/25/2015

1920s Galiano 000 12-Fret Guitar




This is a serious old 12-fret guitar. The story on many of these 1910s and 1920s high-grade Galianos is that they were made by small-scale workshops in New York that were run by Italian immigrant families. RetroFret seems to be calling this loose confederation "The Italian Guild." Fair enough! I've recognized these as builds that have definite, definite design elements similar to period Oscar Schmidts (Stella, Sovereign, etc.) but with a much higher build quality. Many of these small-scale luthiers seemed to have been either retained by the Schmidt factory for fancy work or perhaps trained at the factory to begin with. After having had my hands on two other large-size Galiano-style instruments from the time, I rank them easily in the same grade as Larson builds and with a sound that's fuller, warmer and kinder to the ears in the way 20s and 30s Martins are. They make superb fingerpickers that can handle some flatpicking as well.

This one is a full 000-size (15"+ across the lower bout) and matches many of the pointers that indicate it was most likely have made by the Antonio Cerrito workshop -- including a tenon neck joint. It has a 1 3/4" nut width and long 26 3/16" scale length. Yes! Quite long. I fixed this one up for a customer and aside from the new repro bridge, saddle, and bridge pins it's entirely original and looks, sounds, and plays grand. 



In typical fashion for these guitars, the top is "semi-satin" and very lightly-finished. The back, sides and neck are normal gloss, though. This guitar is very, very lightly built and has fairly plain-Jane ladder bracing. It's got some gorgeous furniture-trade purfling, ivory-colored celluloid binding, and a 3-ring rosette that's quite classy and restrained.

Note all those cleated and glued cracks on the top! There's four on the lower bout and four more extending from the bridge north. This guitar seems to have suffered a bit of dryness during its life. Aside from those cracks I also glued up a couple on the back, some seams, and installed a new repro rosewood bridge that's almost identical in size and shape to the original ebony one. The benefit of this, though, is the drop-in saddle slot which I filled with a new bone one I made up.

I was planning to modify and re-use the original ebony bridge but when I pulled it off I found that it actually had a few hairline splits in it (dryness!) and so I didn't want to reinstall damaged goods.


Original bone nut and funky old tuners. They work just fine, though, after a lube.


Big old pearl dots... and a flat-profile dyed/ebonized pearwood (or maple) fretboard.


Imagine how bright the multicolored purfling would've been to begin with?

The neck (which also had a split in the heel) received a reglue and reset which jacked its angle back to "factory original" as I set my bridge and saddle height to be exactly the same as the original bridge.

Action is right on the dot at 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble at the 12th fret.


Pretty, isn't it?





The mahogany back and sides look gorgeous and have that "red velvet" look to them.







Here you can see the old split in the heel. This was taken care of during the reset work.

Someone had apparently tried to reset the fretboard extension and neck beforehand but they botched the work a little bit. I had to touch up the board area to hide the old, funky work -- and then replaced one of the missing frets with a matching vintage fret in my parts bins.



I'll tell you what -- for a labor-intensive project, I'm very happy with how this guitar turned out. It's a winner in the looks, tone, and feel department.

Because of the extra-long scale I have it strung with extra-light 46w-10 strings for standard E-E tuning. I think with 11s you could drop it to D for a beautiful sound and with 12s right down to C for a rumbly, delicious blues tonality.





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