Skip navigation

Tag Archives: 19th century guitar

This charming little guitar came into the workshop recently. The tightly arched back had come away from the linings in a couple of places at the edges of the upper bout and needed re-gluing. I also made a new saddle to replace the existing poorly-fitting piece of plastic and fitted a set of new strings. Otherwise, the guitar was in remarkably good condition for its age.

 
p1060324-edit
 

The label inside the guitar attributes it to Adolf Kessler junior of Markneukirchen, where it was probably made in the last part of the 19th century.

The Musical Instrument Museum in Markneukirchen has an on-line forum where I discovered that Adolf Kessler had founded a mail order business there in 1886, selling guitars and violins. I guess Kessler was a business man who marketed instruments made by some of the many craftsmen working in the town at the time. There’s a short BBC film about Markneukirchen and its 400 year history as a centre of musical instrument manufacture here.

 
p1060332
 

The rosette is made from decorative shapes of mother of pearl set into mastic.

 
p1060336
 

The ribs and back are of plain wood, perhaps maple, with a painted faux grain pattern under the varnish.

 
p1060329
 

The ebonised bridge is neatly carved into fleurs de lys at the ends, although the bass side has sustained some damage.

 
p1060335
 

The headstock carries Stauffer style tuning machines.

 
p1060326
 

Altogether an attractive little instrument – and I’m pleased to think that it is ready to make music again.

Advertisements

Continuing my experiments with smaller guitars led me back to the 19th century and the instruments made by Louis Panormo. One of his guitars, made circa 1840, is in the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments and, rather helpfully, a workshop drawing is available. I had other assistance too. My friend, Peter Barton, who makes fine acoustic guitars in Addingham, West Yorkshire has a Panormo guitar in his collection, which he generously allowed me to handle and photograph. And Gary Demos has a series of photographs documenting his construction of a Panormo guitar copy on his website.

Here are some photographs of the instrument as it was being built. It isn’t, and wasn’t intended to be, a slavish copy. I felt no need, for example, to reproduce the inexplicable scarf joint at the heel end of the neck that was indicated in the drawing of the Edinburgh instrument and that you may just be able to see below in the Panormo guitar owned by Peter Barton. In the photograph, it runs more or less horizontally from where the neck joins the ribs to the back of the neck, ending around the 7th fret position. (Do tell me, if you understand why Panormo did this.)

I also felt free to to inlay spalted beech for the rosette instead of the mother of pearl set in mastic of the original.

I did however, reproduce the V-joint between the neck and headstock, although the width of the headstock itself was increased slightly to accommodate modern tuning machines. Followers of this blog might recall an earlier post about making the V-joint.


.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

The bridge design is more or less the same as Panormo’s, except that a slot was routed for a carbon fibre saddle to provide a little leeway for adjusting the action later on. His bridge has no saddle. Ebony bridge pins were turned to replicate the original way of fixing the strings.

Here are 3 photographs of the completed guitar. The body length is 450mm, width across lower bout 290mm and scale length 630mm.


 

You can hear Gill Robinson, who now owns the guitar, playing three short pieces if you click on the titles below.

Allegro

The rain it raineth

Caleno costure me

%d bloggers like this: