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?
Certainly looks like a painted grain. Could be Regal, could be Oscar Schmidt, hard to say. The back brace visible in one of your earlier photos certainly looks identical to the ones in my Regal, which isn't saying much on its own as its not as though there's a drastic amount of variation here.
Barbara, I have really enjoyed your Parlor Restoration in the past and this one is certainly interesting.These are great photos, you can really see the detail on that wood! It's fun to engage in Fretted Forensics and imagine the former owners playing and treatments. As to the slide playing , I can't quite get the connection on the FB and Fret wear as it relates to that. I assume you mean the bottleneck style slide. It seems that that would not wear the fretboard between frets so much. The playing is usually done with minimal contact to the frets. And they use fretted notes as well.The fingerboard is pretty beat up, for sure! Are these bar frets? I was thinking the owner might have pried out the old frets with a jack knife and cut and gouged the ebony that way.Also, an instrument this old could have been through several lifetimes of playing styles, combining wear patterns of different players.I agree with the bottleneck playing in that these players often play way up the neck, in open tunings, and would alternate between fretting and barring notes.
Gosh, what famous old timer might have owned this!
I would think it is possible that the former player of this guitar just played all over the neck and beyond, and that the frets were dressed flat over time when the player had worn grooves into them. They must have been quite the musician!
This , for me , ties into the discussion on the old straight saddle and playing in tune.I believe that players used a tempered tuning and then finger technique , pressure etc. , to play fully in tune, when the bridge saddle was square to the string courses. The player of this old ,possibly Schmidt, guitar must have not been bothered by the saddle and was happy with the intonation,because she/he really played a lot!
I think the tuner machines would have been nickel plated, not chrome. This ties into the heated alloy discussion under the Jasco Fretwire heading.( the nickel in German silver,zinc in brass, tin in bronze, etc.) Ha Ha
Seriously, nickel plating is the period metal of choice and more pleasant than chrome.
Barbara, I guess you just asked to identify, not to over analyze this guitar, but it's fun for me!
Well, I hope I'm not too boring but I appreciate being allowed into this forum to speculate and enjoy the input of great contributors. The web page title says Meeting place for builders, repairers and players, and I think that is greatThank You ,again, Frank Ford!
I hope to hear more on this wonderful relic of the age of American music!
I made the guess about the slide/bottleneck playing because 1. the frets are all flat on top, but not smooth. They have striations in them that run parallel to the neck. I have not seen a lot of flat fretted guitars, but these look like the top has been worn off of them by something rougher than fingers that was running up and down the neck. I would think that a person fingering the frets would want something smoother. The striations are coarse and irregular, and I would think a file would make a regular pattern.
And, 2. the frets and the fingerboard are all worn down (hollowed) evenly all the way up to 18. I was guessing that even skilled players who went all the way up the neck would still use some frets (the lower ones) more than the others.
The neck is slightly twisted, and more interestingly, the frets are *high* in the middle (7th , 8th) so that a straight edge, placed on the fingerboard, rocks. Don't know yet if that means the neck is back-bowed, or if it's just the frets.
I suppose playing in an open tuning could lead to a more even wear pattern. And using a bottleneck. The first time I saw slide guitar, my aunt put the guitar into an open tuning and then took out her Zippo lighter and played "Aloha Oe".
You quite likely are right about the nickel. I just looked at shiny, edges rusting, and said "chrome". And I suppose black buttons from that time period are likely to be bakelite, hey?
When I get a chance, I'll do some measuring and see what that tells me about scale.
I appreciate your interest.It's always fun to share speculations about these old instruments.
I have a parlor that I picked up recently that appears to be mahogany back and sides painted VERY well with a rosewood grain. Even the immediate area under the sound hole has been grained to resemble rosewood. It has wear around the edges and the back binding is off so it is clear that the wood is not rosewood.
Your's guitar actually looks nicer than mine with better binding. Mine only has dots on the neck and doesn't have the star but instead has one of those odd ivory colored circles in the back of the headstock. No obvious signs of any stamping/ etching on the circle.
Interesting enough, someone went to a lot a trouble to plug the tuner holes and replace the original tuners with what appear to be period mandolin tuners. I don't know if it was strung in this manner because the bridge and bridge plate have been replaced with a much later belly bridge.
I guess, really, the bottom line is that I have been looking for a few months for some way to identify my guitar too and I finally came to the conclusion that it's not going to be possible. There seem to be a lot of generic old parlors like this out there.
BTW, the frets on this guitar were flat but with not grooving. I've pulled all but a couple of them and every one was almost perfectly flat on top with no crown at all. They look like bar frets when viewed straight on the fretboard. Also, my fretboard appears to be ebonized maple.
scalloped areas look more like heat/fire damage when enlarged & upper bout finish looks bubbled or is it my 'puter?