3/02/2016

1937 Harmony-made Bruno "Lyra" Tailpiece Parlor Guitar




A friend of mine in town found this guitar down in Rutland, VT in its original case. It was, more or less, untouched since the 30s and came in super-clean with only a little bit of use-wear. This same-style guitar can be found in a number of different finishes and stencil-detail styles -- like this Serenader, this Bluebird, or this Stella. The specs are all the same: 12-fret under-length "0-size" body, all-solid birch body, poplar neck, stained-maple fretboard, and simple tailpiece-style setup -- usually with a fairly low bridge.

The factory neck angle on this is as-original considering the unmodified original bridge's height (the same height as my replacement one) and nothing needed regluing. The main work included a fret level/dress, new bone nut and (compensated) bone bridge, and a good setup. It plays perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret, though the neck is a big old C/V hybrid shape with a 1 3/4" nut width and flat board profile. It has a short, 24" scale length. The strings are 11s-comparable in tension but feature a 16 and 12 on the top-end.
 
The tone on this is punchy, fairly loud, and aggressive. If you close your eyes and dig-in you almost get a gypsy-jazz sound from these and players that can make use of archtop or resonator guitars will definitely be at home on these as they respond in much the same way. Flat-out strummers may find the extra resonances and even tonal response quite strange, however.



The neck, back, and sides are finished in black while the top is a sunburst with faux woodgrain striping. The bone nut is new as the original dyed-wood nuts are unreliable and wear too easily.


The board is dyed-maple with celluloid dots and smaller brass frets. They leveled and dressed nicely and have plenty of life left in them.



My new bone bridge is compensated and sounds worlds better than the original stained-maple one. I also thought the bright white of it fits nicely with the white-stenciled rosette and headstock details. If you're familiar with my setups, you may know that I always mark the back edge of floating bridges of all stripes with a pencil so players can easily relocate them when they get knocked-about.

I string the tailpieces on these "backwards" with the ends wrapping back under the tailpiece and so keeping it from ever rattling against the top.




The tuners are all-original, lubed, and work well. The D-string tuner's button-shaft is bent but functional.


Despite a perfectly-glued neck and good angle, I installed a "safety bolt" via the soundhole in the same location as you'd find on a modern Martin or Taylor bolted neck (1/3 from the bottom of the heel). This lets me feel confident that the instrument won't give a future owner any trouble regarding the joint.


There's light scritchy-scratchy on the back and a teensy bit on the top but it's not bad at all for a guitar pushing nearly 80. There are no cracks at all.





I added a new ebony endpin to replace a missing original.


The Bruno retail branding is found in the soundhole as well as a 1937 Harmony date-stamp.


The original end-loading canvas/chip case is in great shape and good to go.

No comments: