8/05/2017

1960s Japan-made Decca 00-Size Flattop Guitar





I'm familiar with the Decca name from awful funky old Japanese electrics and awful funky Japanese "parlor" acoustics, I've never seen one quite like this before. It's all-ply as you'd expect and I bought it for $5 from my friend Tom Steventon who'd rounded it up at a thrift store. Believe me -- it was only worth that. He bought it for the pickguard!

I was planning to decorate our exterior wall with it but decided to fix it up instead. There's only so much you can do with these guitars because despite being intended for steel and having a sort-of steel truss in the neck, they destroy themselves with the tension of even the lightest steel strings. The ultimate goal in fixing this was to make it a very playable instrument for classical-tension strings -- which is what it's become. I used a "salvaged" set of Thomastik KF110 strings on it which sound more steely (well, a bit like dead steel strings) but intonate and tension-up like classicals.

It has bizarre "tonebar" top bracing with a third, middle "tonebar" running down the center. This gives it a mellow, fan-braced sort of sound, but with crunchier mids and less bottom-end mwah. It has a good , trashy "folk guitar" sound at the moment.

Work included "resetting" the neck via two hidden drywall screws, a brace repair to the rear, crazy-big bridge shave and bridge reglue (the latter bit is always challenging on lightly-braced plywood as the ply tends to want to warp away from the clamps), new straight saddle via fretwire, and of course a fret level/dress and setup. I also replaced the awful funky Japanese tuners with some old mini-Grovers from the parts-bin. The final bit of injustice was to add a long, threaded "adjustable brace" that runs the length of the interior. It works in the same fashion as the one I installed on a bandurria earlier this year. Action is 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble at the 12th fret -- spot-on.

Who knows what to do with a guitar like this? I'll probably just lend it to friends and student-level guitarists or use it down at the river with the kids. It has absolutely zero value, otherwise, but sounds pretty nice as a fingerpicker and has an endearingly-plunky flatpicked sound.


The body is all ply maple with a sunburst finish.

This has a 24 5/16" scale length, 14 5/8" lower bout, 11 12" upper bout (kinda wide -- gives it a "mini-mini-jumbo" shape), and  3 5/8" depth. The nut is 1 3/4" and the board is flat over a medium, C-shaped neck.



I added side dots, too. The board dots are faux-pearl plastic, the frets are brass, and the board itself is actually ply rosewood with only a rosewood veneer on it.



The pickguard is pretty cool, isn't it?


This is the original rosewood bridge but I've cut it down a ton. The bolts are original but were previously covered with dots.










Here's the adjustable neck-brace-rod-gizmo access.

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