I’ve recently managed to do some more work to the Sonora parlour. I decided to reset the neck to try to get rid of the banana neck and high action and it worked pretty well. I also redesigned the fretboard and added some wooden dot markers. Now the action is low and the guitar is easy to play.
The new Sonora parlour and here is what she looked like before
My initial plan was to steam the neck off by drilling two small holes under the 13th fret and that way get steam straight in to the dove tail. That didn’t work, I think it was too much old glue stuck in the joint and also the needle tip I used for my home built steamer was too thin. I decided to remove the whole fretboard instead, I used a spatula heated on a normal clothes iron which worked like a charm. Once the fretboard was off I could just steam the hell out of that joint and eventually the glue softened and then neck came off.
Next I had to try to remove the hump on the fretboard where the neck and body meet. I removed all the frets, and kept them in the correct order to make it easier to reinstall them later. To get rid of the hump I had to remove almost 6 mm of the overhang and then sand the rest to get the fretboard straight.
I re-cut all the fret slots, reinstalled the frets and added four wooden dots in different grain directions as position markers. I gave the fretboard a coat of lacquer and then painted everything black except for the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th fret. I added a layer of lacquer on top and then sanded it smooth and polished out the frets again.
My wife’s little unknown German parlour, probably from the 1920-30’s
Back in May I found an old German parlour guitar of unknown make, well it later turned out to be a Sonora, but that opened up my eyes for these small beauties. It’s hard to compare them two since the first one had to be completely rebuilt and this parlour was playable when we got it, except for two small cracks in the top. I actually got my wife to fix up her own guitar, it was about time she was introduced to what I normally do when an old guitar arrives. First she had to polish the frets, oil up the fretboard, clean the whole guitar, oil the tuners, ad some fish glue to the small cracks and clamp her up and then when she was ready, restring her.
The little unknown beauty. There are no makers mark or any further info on this guitar. We just both fell in love with the amazing flower inlays and couldn’t resist her.
There is a first time for everything, now my wife Araceli can take care or her own guitars
I recently restored a little German parlour that I unfortunately don’t know anything about. The only info the seller gave me was that it was made in Vogtland in perhaps the 1920-30’s. If this would have been a Japanese acoustic or a Levin I would have had a bit more of knowledge but I really don’t know anything about old German parlours. I just bought it to practice my guitar repairing skills and for that it was pretty good, I’ve learned a couple of new things. The idea was to give it to my wife but now we found another one for her so if anyone is interested in buying this then send me an email.
The action is a bit high so it’s ideal for slide playing but you can still play it like a normal guitar if you have light gauged strings on it. It sounds pretty awesome, really clear and loud for being so small. It’s made of all solid woods, spruce top, walnut back and sides and perhaps pine or some other light coloured wood in the neck, I’m not that great at guessing woods. One set of machine heads looks original and seems to be from 1920-30’s and the other is perhaps DDR made from the 1960’s, but both works fine. Overall a pretty nice sounding little guitar with a beautiful patina and the most awesome looking one piece walnut back.
I started with taking the back off so I could re-glue all the braces. It was pretty straight forward to open it, I used a heated spatula and a knife, it worked like charm, I removed all the braces in the same way. The head was broken and pretty much everything that could be lose was lose on it when it arrived. It has a small makers mark under the bridge but I can’t really figure out what it says, if anyone has any ideas please get in touch.
Update: August 27, 2015: The brand is Sonora
I re-glued all the braces and the two cracks in the top with fish glue. Unfortunately the top had been cracked for so long so I couldn’t get it to close perfectly but at least now it’s solid with two cleats running along the cracks.
The next step was to glue the head back on. This was a bit harder than the Spanish guitar I glued the head on the week before since the break this time was just under the nut and therefore a lot harder to clamp. I left it for 48 hours and it seems to have worked pretty well so I carved and sanded the back smooth and then painted it black again. I glued the back on and closed the guitar with tape and clamps and this was pretty tricky too, as I’m sure everyone that has ever closed a guitar would know. The sides tend to move outwards so you have to push them in place sideways at the same time as you clamp the top down to the body. A bit fiddly but it worked fine in the end.
Now I just had to make the guitar playable. These old parlours are known for having banana necks since they lack any form of reinforcement in the neck. On top of that they tend to have a hump where the fretboard meets the body. First I heated and steamed the neck under pressure which worked quite well for straighten it out a bit. Then I took out the last 5 frets, sanded down the fretboard, put the frets back and lowered them as much as I could. I painted the fretboard brown and sanded over it to match the rest. After that it was just to level, crown and polish the rest of the frets.
Tanglewood Grand Reserve TRP-73VSE, Parlour guitar 2011, 400€ 350€ Araceli and I have decided to put one of our Tanglewood’s up for sale and just keep her favourite Tanglewood Premier TW133. The Tanglewood Grand Reserve TRP-73VSE is a very beautiful and well sounding little parlour, especially plugged in, designed in the UK and hand built in China. Solid Sitka spruce top and rosewood back and sides this model produces a great rich tone with brilliant resonance for a small bodied guitar especially with the superb onboard B-band A3 pickup system. Other features include quality gold Kluson style machine heads, maple and herringbone binding and a lovely vintage sunburst high gloss finish. TRP-73VSE RRP £399.00
When I met my other half Araceli back in 2007 she already new the basic cowboy chords but never really played guitar, I had only heard her strum a handful of times. She told me that she didn’t really like to play on my guitars since I seemed to care so much about them so I thought the best way around that would be to get her a guitar of her own. I also felt that since I had experienced so much joy through music in my life that would be the least I could give to the woman I love. I talked to her family and we agreed to put in 50 Euro each and get her a guitar for her birthday in September 2010. It was down to me to find a suitable guitar within our budget so I started to do some research. I knew that a parlour guitar would be best option, she is pretty small so I thought that a small bodied guitar would be easier for her to handle. I already had an inexpensive parlour a Vintage V880N that I liked but didn’t love so I thought I would try another brand this time and started to read about Tanglewood. People seemed to really like them, especially in the UK, and they had quite a few parlour sized models so it felt like a good start. Since you can’t just walk in to a guitar shop here in Barcelona and try what you are looking for, the shops here are useless and have nothing in stock, I had to rely on reviews and then order the guitar online. In the end I went for the Tanglewood Premier TW133, since I thought she would really like the look of it, or at least I loved the dark wood and the simplicity of it. I also felt that a solid mahogany top and back would give a bit more warmth and body to it compared to most new made parlour guitars which I feel normally lack that. She was really happy with her birthday present and started to play almost daily and soon after we even started a band together called Chest Fever.