Found this guitar at an estate sale last week. The bridge was pulled off, but held in place by the strings and bridge pins. It looks as though it had been glued perhaps three times. There are big globs of the most recent gluing, some traces of white glue, and the original glue. There are fairly large pieces of the top stuck on the bridge.
Has anybody had any luck soaking those pieces off the bridge, and then re-gluing them to the top? Or is that an exercise in futility?
I thought it was interesting that the back was book matched, but that the sides were bent so that they were mismatched
Lyon & Healey Bridge
I would use a Dremel and mill away a big square or many small squares one mm or two deep into the top under the bridge. Where the top is damaged the most. Not all the way through. The ditch(es) should be a bit smaller than the width and length of the bridge. Then use hot hide glue (or possibly epoxy glue) to glue in matching piece(s) of spruce in the ditch(es) with the grain in the same direction as the top. Clean the underside of the bridge and glue the bridge on a nice flat surface with hot hide glue (a fresh batch). If the bridge is warped I would use heat, water and clamps to make it flat before glueing.
Have you looked inside at the back/sides? Hard to tell from these photos, but I have a sense that it might be a faux rosewood paint job over domestic hardwood.
Lots of these things have spruce bridge plates, so you may have some work to do underneath as well.
Spruce bridgeplates are great - as long as the area around the holes are reinforced with hardwood. Spruce as a bridge plate gives a nice soft and dynamic tone, not as stiff as the commonly used maple plates. I use the Stewmac BridgeSaver to reinforce the area around the holes, I use harder wood than maple (bubinga, ebony or some other really hard wood), maple is actually too soft!
Spot on Frank!! The inside was so full of dust and dirt, that I hadn't noticed that it looks like mahogany. The faux graining is an art form of its own, but I'm embarrassed to have been so easily deceived. In the world of antique furniture, a piece with faux graining will often bring more than the real thing. Here, probably not so much.
You are also correct about the bridge plate. It is spruce, a little less than 1/8 inch thick, and as wide as the bridge. It is pretty well chewed up.
The fingerboard is dyed maple. It seems strange that they would have taken the time and trouble to bind the top, back, fingerboard, and peghead, and then used second rate materials. I have in the past wondered if U-boat activity during WW1, made it difficult to get the ebony and rosewood.
I think you have a L&H 'Lakewood' model, I've had a number of them, and the info provided above is aligned with my experience with these, too.
These were 'catalog' guitars or 'student grade' instruments, offered in cheap and cheaper, although Washburn (L&H) actually made some really high quality guitars that rival Martins work .. with real rosewood! In fact, many of their 'plain' parlor guitars were Brazilian as a standard option.
Your L&H is likely dyed fb, died/painted bridge (maybe ebony), and faux rosewood paint on birch body. And those look like the original bridge pins to that's a bonus!
I believe the choice of faux paint on birch was a marketing choice, and not a result of any shortage of materials. U-boats were a big issue in the 40s, not so much in the teens/twenties.
These guitars are well worth putting the time and effort into the restoration.
Oh, and to your first question re the missing 'chips', I have this same problem on these old timers, too, and Roger's advice should work for you. It's painstaking, but worth it to get the guitar back in shape.
Nice guitar .. have fun restoring it, you'll be rewarded at the end!
Roger, Thanks for the advice about repairing the area under the bridge. Sounds rather daunting, but I'm not hearing any votes for re-gluing the original splinters. Again, in the world of antique furniture, the objective is to not remove any original wood. Apparently there's not much choice here.
Tom, Thanks for the info. The bridge is very nice, black ebony. I have another almost identical guitar, with the same single, diagonal top brace, and dyed maple fb. However, it has real rosewood sides and back. There is a number printed on the neck block, but no other identification. It has the classic truncated pyramid bridge typical of Washburn / L&H. I had assumed it might be a Washburn with the paper label missing.
Well, the brown blobs of glue turned out to be epoxy. There was no way to get the spruce splinters off the bridge intact.
Two of the back braces are loose, and have similar blobs of brown glue that doesn't soften with vinegar or De-Glue Goo.
Has anybody had any luck with the epoxy solvents available on line?
Thanks for the help, George
This might be of interest:
Lots of great stuff in that link!
I agree with Roger. Very enlightening stuff.
One part made me wonder about using a sanding drum, by hand, to hollow out a trough with a rounded bottom. It would remove less total wood from under the bridge, and as Frank mentioned, would act almost like a scarf joint. A cylinder of spruce, turned to the same diameter as the sanding drum should fill the trough quite easily (hopefully).
Has anybody used this approach?
Thanks,again, for all the help, George