The Bluesbox Collection

European Parlor Guitar "In the Spanish Style" (c.1860)

This was the first gut strung guitar I collected. I determined that it probably would support extra-light gauge steel strings, but chose to leave it as it would have been strung originally. This close-up of the face shows the solid spruce top and the exquisite "paste & mastic" inlay around the sound hole and the inlay on the bridge, which has discolored from extreme age and an unfortunate lacquer overspray at some point in the distant past. This closer look at the top also shows the wood inlay around the face. I believe the bridge is a modern replacement. It is dark rosewood, and the inlay is obviously the work of a different artist then that around the soundhole. The bridge inlays appear to have been "aged" using some kind of dye or other colorant. The fingerboard is very high quality ebony and has been refretted by yours truly. Through the sound hole can be glimpsed the spruce "lining". It was a common practice of European luthiers of the early 1800's to construct the backs of guitars out of a rosewood-spruce laminate - basically the back is made of spruce with rosewood veneer on the outside. The sides of this guitar are a similar laminate of mahogany with rosewood veneer. This view of the back shows some severe cracks that I repaired. Because the grains of the two woods run in the same direction (unlike most plywood, where the grain of each ply runs against it's neighbor), this kind of cracking was pretty much inevitable. This close-up shows the cone-shaped heel which is also typical of European guitars from this period. Some of the early guitars of CF Martin (who was a German immigrant) exhibit this kind of construction. The squared-off peg head is typical of English, French and German guitars made "in the Spanish style" as it was termed. Conversely, the Spanish guitars themselves usually had some kind of carved flourish at the top. The tuners are solid brass with riveted gears. The knobs are real ivory. This guitar is in excellent playing shape. It has a bright yet mellow tone with great bass response and is quite loud, even strung with gut strings (or their modern equivelent - black nylon).

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