A friend brought me this to repair and assess, and, while I can guess the period in general, it is missing any identification as to the maker. It has ivoroid bindings, an ebony -- I think-- fingerboard w 18 frets, 3 to a side chrome plated tuners w black buttons, possibly added later. Black plastic? Shiny at any rate. The back appears to Brazilian rosewood plywood, and is not bookmatched. There is an oval of glue inside the back where a label once resided. All the patterning is real, not decals.
The wear pattern on the frets and fretboard leads me to suspect it was played with a slide: the frets are all worn flat right up to 18, and the fingerboard is grooved all the way up.
It came in a khaki canvas case with leather trim and a red felt lining -- the case opens on the bottom end rather than having a lid.
Any guesses anyone?
Looks like a sweetie! I have seen some Harmony parlor guitars with the star motif on the headstock and similar fret position markers. That would be my guess.
I worked on that exact model about 6 years ago. The star made us look at Vega and others. After 6 monts of post repair research, we still came up with zilch. The guitar I worked on has "painted grain"to make it look like BzR.
We ended up calling it the "Mystery Generic Parlor".
I hope someone has the answer. Best of Luck Barbara (-:
Interesting. It's really hard to see the grain thru the pattern of cracks in the varnish. And, of course, I didn't want to mess with the finish. I pulled the nut to look at the end of the fingerboard and it appears to be dark clear through, and a tight even small grain consistent with ebony. There are splits in the sides in the lower bout but the end block is not compromised. No side braces/splints. The uniform color in the interior back led me to say 'plywood' painted dark burgundy color. The peghead veneer seems to be rosewood, but I'll give it a closer look. Were the purfling, rosette and ivoroid trim and the MOP inlays the same patterns on yours?
Yes they were Barbara. As a matter of fact, the binding and the trim are the reasons my friend proceeded with the repair. It was all just "too cool" to relegate to the position of wall hanger.
After resuscitating it as best we could, we strung it with Silk & Steel's and it sang with a willowy voice. It only works well for first position chords as the intonation was probably never "exact".
I hope that your as pleased when your project is done. Oh & btw: we also ruled-out any association to the Larsons.
Have a super week end.(-:
Paul, Did yours have a bridge?
Yes it did Barbara.
It was an ebonized pyramid style with a thru-saddle. As I recall, it was bolted on without adhesive. We glued it back on securely.
So how come I can recall details of an instrument I worked on 6 years ago but can't remember where I left my car keys? (:
To me, this looks like the work of Oscar Schmidt - the maker of Stella brand guitars, among others. I don't recall seeing a laminated back one like this, but I have seen a number with really skillfully painted faux wood grain.
Okay, I'll 'fess up. I looked at the uniform color inside the guitar and *assumed* it meant the back was plywood. I don't see any other indication that the back or sides are plywood. And, if as seems likely, they are painted, it's really skillfully done, especially if that is true of the peghead as well. How do I tell if it's 1. plywood or 2.painted?
And, FWIW, the top and back kerfings are both triangular.
I would love to see a better photo of the back/sides grain pattern. Regal made many parlor guitars under several names with faux rosewood grain painted on the back, and they must have used a series of stencils as I've seen several with identical grain patterns, sometimes positioned differently but still recognizable.
Do you have any photos (without flash) which more clearly show the grain pattern of the back and sides? A clear shot of the butt end of the sides would be a key tip off to identify if it were one of the faux rosewoods made by Regal.
I'll try taking some pictures tomorrow in daylight, but it is hard to see the grain pattern thru the crackle in the finish. Is there an online photo of the patterns somewhere, or can you put one up? I can tell the general shape of the patterns on the back.
Here are two that I have photos of (made by Regal for Oahu), though I've seen a few others that match the pattern pretty closely as well. Looks like it may have been a combination of laying the grain patterns first with a comb or roller, followed by stenciled shading. Several companies did it different ways though, and I can't say that I've seen a crazing pattern that deep or intense on any of the Regals, so this may be a red herring.
These two that I kept photos of happen to be Oahu models with different trim, top decals, etc, but I've seen the same faux grain pattern on at least one or two other Regal parlors.
Edit: Here's another example pictured in a Mandolin Cafe discussion with the same type of graining pattern, though layered and laid out slightly differently.
Here's some additional pix, David. I ran them through photo shop a bit to up the contrast and brighten them overall. Definitely in the same family as your painted grains. See if you see a match.
I have more pictures of the back taken from each side if those would help as well. The sides seem pretty dark even with photo enhancement.