'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

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Steve Woods
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'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Steve Woods »

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This guitar and this old family photo look like possibly a match to me. Could this be the same guitar as in the photo? The photo supposedly dates from 1896 but could this guitar date back that far? My wife's 70 year old uncle has entrusted this into my care to see if I can restore or, at least, take steps to help preserve it. He says it has been in his parent's attic since before he was born and the photograph is from an old family album. Does anyone here know any history about Concertone guitars?

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Mark Swanson
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Mark Swanson »

They were a lower-grade guitar of the time, sold in mail-order catalogs. Still, it will be all solid woods, and probably have an adirondack top. It's too hard to say if it's the one in the photo, but things on the guitar look to me like it is from the 20's...probably made in the Washburn factory in Chicago, the bridge looks like a Washburn bridge.
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Michael Lewis
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Michael Lewis »

A close up of the tuning machines might help date it if they are original.

Steve Woods
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Steve Woods »

Image

Image

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Mark Swanson
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Mark Swanson »

That guitar would fall on the older side of my estimate. The peghead shape tells me that, and the tuners have the worm gear on the body side of the round gear while later guitars have the worm gear (that's the one on the shaft with the button) on the other side of the round gear.
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Peter Wilcox
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Peter Wilcox »

I believe the round gear is called the worm gear, and the one on the shaft is called the worm. The spiral part of a cork screw is also called the worm. I'm sorry to be such a worm by correcting you. :)
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

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Mark Swanson
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Mark Swanson »

Thanks, I am always confused and at a loss about just what to call the different parts of a tuner so that all guitar geeks will know what I mean!
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Michael Lewis
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Michael Lewis »

The worm or worm gear, and the spur gear.

Chuck Tweedy
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

The radial gear that is pushed by the worm is also sometimes called the "worm wheel".

Just piling on :-)
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Thomas Wentzel
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Thomas Wentzel »

I'd agree, likely Chicago made, maybe something like first quarter of the 20th Century, low-end-ish factory guitar. Mahogany, birch, oak?
Restored, these are often quite responsive guitars, just don't put too heavy a string on 'em, keep the saddle as low as possible to avoid bridge breakage.
I can't really see much of the guitar in the photo, I'd need to blow it up, but it sure looks like a turn of the century crew. Tom

Michael Lewis
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Michael Lewis »

I would guess late teens or twenties. It could be later but not earlier.

Steve Woods
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Steve Woods »

The white binding would probably be celluloid you think? If so I wonder how it has held up so well?

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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Michael Lewis »

Some batches of celluloid are very stable. I have seen tail pieces on some old Gibson guitars (1916 or so) that are basically a block of celluloid stuck on a U rod and holes in it for short bridge pins to hold the strings. There is significant stress on that little block of plastic from the string tension, and these things seem to hold up.

One key to the demise of some celluloid is when it is exposed to solvents, like gluing pieces together with a solvent based glue. Once it starts it just keeps on happening.

Chris Vallillo
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Chris Vallillo »

I would agree that this dates to the late teens or twenties and is from Chicago, probably Regal built. Bob Carlin's excellent book "Regal Musical Instruments, 1895-1955" Sheds some light on their. On page 155 he shows a Concertone ad and states""Concertone guitars, probably Regal made, Montgomery Ward catalogue, 1917."

Lyon and Healy purchased the assets of Regal in 1904 and moved the brand to Chicago (from Indianapolis) then split the company off around 1911 give or take. The two companies are very interconnected throughout the early 20th century. As Carlin states, "Regal made some or all Lyon and Healy banded instruments through the 1920s (parent company of Washburn).

I'd try examining the original family picture with a magnifying glass to see if the instrument in that shot has the same large, herringbone binding. That is rather unique detail which could confirm whether or not the guitar is the same. As someone involved with folklore and music documentation, I have found that family dates are frequently not accurate and need to be corroborated by other sources.

Steve Woods
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Steve Woods »

I think my wife's uncle may have the original photograph which might show better detail than this scan we lifted off their geneological web page. I just now e-mailed him about it but may not hear back for a few days because of family matters.

Meanwhile I have done a few basic repairs. The top is in surprisingly good condition with no cracks at all. I re-glued the binding in one small area.
The back was in bad shape though and was unglued from the sides for about 1/3rd of the way around the bottom bout with one major crack and several other smaller but open ones. I have reglued, splinded, and splinted all that. I re-glued the bridge.

Next the neck needs re-set to give it playable action. It would make a good slide guitar as is but the bottom of the heel is slightly pulled away anyway. I have never done this before and the thought of doing it for the first time on this nice old guitar makes me a might nervous. I have just acquired a travel iron. It has the following settings: off...low...ray...wool...lin cot (steam). Which setting would be advisable for loosening the finger board extention from the top?

Chris Vallillo
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Chris Vallillo »

Actually this is a perfect instrument to learn a neck re-set on, assuming it is a birch, moderate quality guitar. There are probably many who could give you better advice than I regarding removing the fingerboard extension, but I'd avoid the steam settings since they can damage the finish. I've used irons in the past and found them to be surprisingly effective. I simply set them on the frets and the heat transferred fairly well into the fingerboard. The hottest setting with no steam should work. Keep an eye on it as you heat it.

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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Michael Lewis »

Getting steam into the dovetail joint is going to be your second 'hurdle', after freeing the fingerboard from the top. You need a blade to push between the fingerboard and the top to separate the glue joint. I use a very flexible putty knife with a thin handle for this. There are a lot of possible things you will encounter in this process, and being able to deal with them as they arise is key to making a clean job of it.

Heat helps dry out any minimal moisture from the glue, so the glue 'should' pop and crack as you put the blade in the joint, but it may hold fast. Steam will soften the glue but may cause a white blush in the finish. This blush is easily removed if the finish is shellac or lacquer, but not if it is an oil varnish.

To get steam (pretty much required) into the dovetail joint you have a couple choices. Remove the first fret over the body (13th fret on a 12 fret neck), drill a 3/32" hole near the center of the fret slot and look for the drill to drop into the space as you get through the fingerboard. You may have to angle the drill toward the bridge or the neck to find the space. OR, remove the heel cap and drill at an angle at the root of the heel into the space behind the dovetail. Pipe steam into the joint with a needle like the one StewMac sells.

There are more complete descriptions of this process elsewhere, so start reading and get smart before opening the project. Good luck.

Steve Woods
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Steve Woods »

Well, I managed to successfully re-set the neck with no problems. I made an iron based on the Stewmac one in the catalog but unlike theres mine only cost a couple of bucks and is heavier. The cappucino machine came from a thrift store for $2.50 and the hypodermic syringe came from Tractor Supply for a few cents.

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I replaced the nut and saddle with bone. For a small bodied guitar from a mail order catalog it has surprising tone and volumn!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFxaOmqA ... load_owner

Next I need to take the bow out of the neck and what a sweet little guitar I will have!

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Mark Swanson
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Mark Swanson »

Good work! You look very relaxed. These guitars are getting more popular all the time, and I have always felt they were undiscovered gems...a few people knew it, but it was always amazing to me with the guitar market the way it is, that these don't bring bigger bucks. You probably should have gotten the bow out of the neck before you put it back on!
tell me more about where you got the needle. I need a new one, and am not aware of getting them from a Tractor store....?
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Steve Woods
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Re: 'Concertone' Parlor Guitar Project

Post by Steve Woods »

Thanks Mark, yes I was very relaxed...half drunk would be more accurate. I do wish I would have straightened that neck while I had it off. The hypodermic needles are for available at farm and home type stores that carry veterinary supplies like Tractor Supply Co. http://www.tractorsupply.com/ I bought the longest biggest diameter they had which is shorter than Stewmacs but was long enough to do the job. They came in a package of 4 for $3 or $4. I also used the needle to inject additional glue into the dovetail through the same hole in the fret slot after I had glued and fitted the neck back on before clamping and replacing the fret. I use hypodermic needles for gluing purposes in a lot of my woodworking. But as fast as hide glue starts tacking up during use, be sure to have an .010 or .011 guitar string handy for keeping the needle clear.

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