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This is a Lyon & Healey parlor guitar that Frank correctly identified as having Faux Graining.  What looks like very figured rosewood is actually just painted on.

My problem is that shrinkage of the back has produced openings on either side of the back strip.  Some of the openings, though, are on one side, and some on the other.  The result is that the back strip appears to weave back and forth.

Originally, I had planned on lifting up the back strip, and placing black purfling strips on either side to center it.  The back strip has been very resistant to removal.  I have tried soaking it with distilled water, a dilute vinegar solution, and using very mild heat. In addition, the decorative part of the back strip seems to be paper thin, almost like a decal. 

I would appreciate any suggestion from people who have previously encountered this problem.

My other thought was to simply remove the back strip with a router, and replace it with a new "Washburn" style back strip.  I realize that would destroy the "authenticity" of the instrument and it goes against my instincts.  On the other hand, I payed only $75 for it at an estate sale, and I'm not sure it would be worth a lot more than that either in its original state, or modified.

The first picture is the guitar in question.

The 2nd is an earlier Washburn with the typical back strip.

The 3rd is the back strip that I could use to replace the original.

Thanks for any suggestions and help, George

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Does the bottom have a center strip on the inside? Is it cracked? The reason for this is that the bottom has shrunk and the middle back strip has come loose on whatever side that was the weakest. The why is easy, the remedy can be many things.

I'd try to keep the original back strip. One idea is to loosen one side of the back strip all the way with a razor blade, then push the strip to the other side and fill the crack on the other side with a filler wood stick or a paste made of saw dust and glue.

Roger, thanks for your reply.  Yes, the back has a center strip, and it looks as though the back has pulled away from the center strip on both sides.  The back braces are quite heavy, and seem to be very solidly glued.  On the other hand, tapping with the pad of my finger produces a distinct rattle, indicating that something is loose in there.  Perhaps a little careful work with a palette knife under the center strip could loosen the back strip from the center strip?  If I can get the decorative back strip out, it would certainly make gluing the inside back strip easier.  Also easier to reposition the outside back strip.

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Usually the center strip cracks, I have never seen the center strip coming loose.

If this was me I would loosen the back and re-glue the center strip and back bracing, making sure the crack in the back is tight. This is what I do all the time when doing complete renovations. Usually the shrunken back can be re-glued to the sides bending the sides a bit in the narrow curve. The slant on the sides will not be visible unless you really look for it. If the shrinkage is severe, some new wood need to be added, in the middle seam or around the bottom. But you can probably figure out a way to glue the parts together without loosening the back! 

Hot hide glue is the only glue to use.

All spelling corrections in this text is made by https://languagetool.org, a great add-on to Firefox :-)

Could you swell the center seam back with moisture, then apply glue to all areas that are loose?

Jim

Well I couldn't maneuver a palette knife under the center strip, but a box cutter blade slipped under.  The back braces all seem tight (there was a fair amount of glue around them) but the center strip is mostly loose.  The good news is that the center strip purfling isn't a decal.  It is solid.  Wish me luck.

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