3/31/2016

1950s United-made "Sylvia" Tailpiece Parlor Guitar




Well, I guess "Sylvia" is "Stella's" 50s cousin, huh? These guitars are ply top and back with solid sides (all birch), a poplar neck, and sport a dyed-maple fretboard and tailpiece setup. I fixed this up pro bono (it was hanging on the wall as wall-art) for my friends at The Wild Fern in Stockbridge, VT, to use as a house guitar. Work included bolting the neck (from the inside), a new bone nut and rosewood bridge, new tuners, fret level/dress, side crack repair, and general sprucing-up.

These guitars were sold under a bunch of different names but made by United in New Jersey. The 1 3/4" nut necks are a comfy, almost 40s Gibson C-profile, but with a flat fretboard and 25" scale. This gives them the feel, in a sense, of mid-30s Nationals in the left-hand. This kind of "feel" is a lot more conducive to easy-playing than your average comparable guitar of the time, like the venerable Harmony H929, which have clunky-feeling necks and short scales.


These are ladder-braced and the voice is pretty similar to a 20s/30s tailpiece, parlor-size guitar. Because of the longer scale and unreinforced neck, I string these fairly light -- this has a custom set of 46w-11 strings.






Because this is going to get played by... everyone... I tack-glued the floating bridge in place after I set intonation with a couple dots of superglue. There's nothing more annoying than listening to a floating-bridge tailpiece guitar than when it's completely out of tune up the neck.




New Kluson-style tuners replaced nailed-on(!) junker ones.





The tailpiece is also now screwed-on rather than nailed(!)-on.

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