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Washburn New Model 115 X bracing

Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:48 pm
by Chris Vallillo
“Pam” came into my life quite a few years ago when a local violin maker offered it to me in pieces. It was a project he had planned on taking on but never got around to.

Pam is a small bodied Washburn Parlor guitar with an oval black and white label which dates it to the 1903-07 era.

The details of construction and decoration (Brazilian Rosewod back and sides, spruce top, white celluloid with rope style marquetry on the top, binding on the top and back, three rings around the sound hole and body dimensions) suggest that it might be a 115 Model though there are no model numbers on the guitar.
When I got Pam, her back was off, she had numerous splits in the rosewood back and sides, some quite severe, and several serious cracks in the top. A section of binding was missing from the top as well and it was completely missing the back binding. I splinted the face cracks with new spruce (inlaid spruce into the cracks that were too wide to close). Her original tuners were damaged and she had been over sprayed with some form of clear finish.

Pam had a very basic and somewhat beefy ladder style bracing on the top and the bridge was split.

Re: Washburn New Model 115 X bracing

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:10 am
by Chris Vallillo
After dealing with the structural repairs to the cracks, I decided to go ahead and re-brace the guitar to an X brace pattern. I had previously restored an X braced 1897 Style Washburn 145, so I patterned this after the original X bracing from that guitar.
With X bracing and a new bridge plate, the guitar would be fine for light gauge steel strings. Many early Washburn’s have a steel bar running through their necks and PAM was one of those. This greatly reduces the amount of bending these vintage necks end up with and though I did re-set Pam’s neck, I didn’t need to remove much material at all to get the correct angle.

Once Pam was re-braced and all the structural work was done, I re-glued the back and rebound it with historically accurate cellulose binding. I did a fine sanding to remove the overspray, but kept what remained of the original finish intact. I drop filled damaged areas then hand applied a French Polish to the entire guitar (the original finish). I did this with the neck still off the body to make for a cleaner finish job.
After the finish was completed and had a chance to harden, I re-attached the neck, and replaced the broken bridge with CAD designed exact replacement in Ebony. The guitar had some fret wear so I did a full level and polish and was able to save the original frets. I then put on new Stew Mac “Golden Era” engraved replacement tuners and cut a new bone saddle to fit in the bridge. I was able to save ands re-use the original ebony nut.

I played it off and on for about a month and the tone really opened up. Pam is as loud as a cannon with a brilliant high end and strong mids and lows, particularly for such a small bodied guitar. She was immediately snatched up by guitarist extraordinaire, Eric Lambert and I couldn't think of a better home!

I just picked up an earlier version of this same ladder braced guitar only an 1896 style, Brazilian Rosewood back and sides. It's falling apart, but it's restorable and I'm considering doing another X braced version with that one.

Re: Washburn New Model 115 X bracing

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:41 am
by Barry Daniels
Great job, Chris!

Re: Washburn New Model 115 X bracing

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:48 pm
by Chris Vallillo
Thanks very much, Barry! I'll try to post the restoration of the second 115 as I do it but wanted to share this project first.

Re: Washburn New Model 115 X bracing

Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:20 am
by Mark Swanson
Good work, the other guitar should be just as sweet!