The Bluesbox Collection

Turn of the Century Lyon & Healy Catalog Guitar

Here is a fine example of an early 20th Century student grade instrument. It has a spruce top with a rosewood bridge, saddle, and fingerboard. This "pyramid style" pin bridge was on the guitar when I received it, but was not being utilized. A repairmen (in 1961, according to the label pasted inside on the rim) had decided to plug up the pin holes and installed a wrap-around tailpiece - probably to relieve the tension on the top. I could find no evidence that the tailpiece was actually necessary, however. So I removed it, drilled the pin holes back out, then installed a Bridge Doctor to stiffen the top, before restringing it with extra light bronze strings. The sound is very nice - a little more treble toned then my Washburn - but very much in the same character. The back and sides are maple, with a cherry stain finish. The one piece neck is mahognay. The peg head has been left unfaced, typical for a student instrument. If this guitar is as old as I think it is, it is remarkably well preserved.

I was not sure at first about the manufacturer of this instrument, since there is no manufacturer's mark on it and no serial number. I immediately suspected that it was a Lyon & Healy because the construction is exactly like my Washburn, right down to the placement of the interior braces. Also the neck feels exactly the same. I was a bit concerned about the rounded peg head slots (my Washburn has them squared off), but then I found pictures of an early Washburn which had the rounded slots and also featured a position marker at the 9th fret, as shown on this guitar, instead of the 10th, where you find them on most instruments. That feature, at one point, convinced me that this was a Larsen Brothers guitar, possibly a Stahl, but then I found out that all LB instruments featured ebony fingerboards and bridges. Then, by coincidence, I met a lady at a night club who was playing a guitar that looked exactly like this one, except that the bridge was a later period L&H style. I asked to examine it and found a Lyon & Healy manufacturer's stamp on the center seam. She informed me that her guitar was dated to 1922. It was obvious to me that mine and hers were made using the same forms - but mine has the earlier, pyramid, type bridge, which is typical of turn of the century Washburns.

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