Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

If you have a string instrument of any kind that needs fixing, a mistake you made in building a new instrument that you need to "disappear," or a question about the ethics of altering an older instrument, ask here. Please note that it will be much easier for us to help you decide on the best repair method if you post some pictures of the problem.
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John E Giarrizzo
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Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by John E Giarrizzo »

A friend asked if his family heirloom could be repaired. It is in really bad shape. Picture of the worst of many cracks. I think that a complete disassembly is required. I googled "rion" guitars and came up with nothing. Good guitar? Cheep guitar? I suspect not worth the time and effort. Major job.

Thanks.
Rion Guitar.jpg
Rion Guitar 2.jpg
Rion Guitar 3.jpg

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Charlie Schultz
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by Charlie Schultz »

Could it be "Arion" and like the second picture here? https://blog.library.si.edu/blog/2011/0 ... lUFpjdG3RY

John E Giarrizzo
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by John E Giarrizzo »

Thanks, Charlie.

Searched for "Arion" guitars. Found two. Made over a hundred years ago. Not sure if I want to take this job on. If it were mine, probably --- part time --- taking a year to complete with my schedule. I did my Dad's tenor guitar in almost as bad shape once.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by Mark Swanson »

Yes, that's an Arion parlor guitar, made by Lyon and Healy. It's a mid grade guitar from back then, but these days the woods used for these would be seen as very nice. it's an adirondack top, mahgoany back and sides...it would be a good guitar if you completely rebuild it. I've done a bunch of these.
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Beate Ritzert
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by Beate Ritzert »

Indeed, a "major job", quite obviously.

Did You estimate the cost of the repair?
Give the owner a few options - minimally to make it playable - full cosmetic refresh - optimizing it soundwise a bit ....

That should be more or less independent on the actual market value of the instrument. And then let the client decide. The guitar might have something like an immaterial value to Your client.

IMO even relatively low end instruments could be upgraded soundwise a lot, and sometimes with surprisingly little effort.

(and i feel that these old instruments should be restored if possible...)

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by Mark Swanson »

In my opinion I would not do this without re-bracing the top with a nice X-brace. That makes a world of difference in the tone of the finished guitar, they didn't take much care in doing that in these old ones.
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Bob Francis
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by Bob Francis »

Mark Swanson wrote:Yes, that's an Arion parlor guitar, made by Lyon and Healy. It's a mid grade guitar from back then, but these days the woods used for these would be seen as very nice. it's an adirondack top, mahgoany back and sides...it would be a good guitar if you completely rebuild it. I've done a bunch of these.
I saw a couple of these for sale on line 500 and 900 range.

John E Giarrizzo
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by John E Giarrizzo »

I saw a couple on ebay for 1200 and 1500. Not sure if the exact same model. Labeled "Vintage 1880s-1910s Lyon & Healy style American Parlor Guitar". Looked the same except had pin bridge.

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Beate Ritzert
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by Beate Ritzert »

... i.e. it all depends on what the owner is willing or able to pay?

@Mark: i am fully with You that a better bracing will help that guitar a lot, and even suggested to do that. But it is something that needs to be discussed with the owner, i assume?

@John, did You already check the bracing?

John E Giarrizzo
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by John E Giarrizzo »

I haven't seen the guitar in person. The owner sent me many detailed photos. I'm a little hesitant of taking this on. I'll see the actual guitar in a couple of weeks.

Christopher Harms
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by Christopher Harms »

What kind of strings were put on that guitar? Comment threads about people damaging guitars by putting steel strings on them are a dime a dozen all over the internet. If the guitar isn't built for steel strings, violent damage is often the result. I suspect that's what happened here.

Chris Vallillo
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Re: Guitar ID?; Worth repairing?

Post by Chris Vallillo »

I'd be curious to see if that had a floating bridge or a fixed bridge originally. Since it's a repair, I'd go with the owner's wishes regarding rebracing. Re-bracing the guitar may make it stronger for steel strings but will change the tone which can be a good or bad thing depending on how the owners want to use it. Some folks prefer the ladder braced floating bridge sound... Of course, it's collectable value will be compromised but since this is a guitar of modest value with serious damage, I don't imagine that's an issue (IMHO I don't think these are worth more than 4-500 regardless of what people are "asking" on eBay etc).

I've rebraced a couple parlors now, one a birch no name from Chicago with a spruce top that I lovingly refer to the Potato Chip due to it's insane level of damage http://ginridge.com/no-name-birch-and-spruce-fall-2014/ and more recently a Washburn 111 with an oval white label that dates to 1903-1907 give or take. The tone of the potato chip is surprisingly good; clear and bright (birch back and sides will do that). The Washburn is in the final stages of french polishing and will be put back together in the very near future. Since it's a Brazilian Rosewood guitar with Adirondack Spruce top, I expect that it will sound excellent, as Mark suggested. I patterned the X bracing off of a Washburn 145 I restored a few years ago that had original X bracing in it. It will be offered for sale when completed and I have a buyer who is comfortable with the conversion.

As for the side break, that repair is not as bad as you might think. You can use the cleat pulling method that Don Teeter spoke of in his excellent book year's ago (Stu mac is now selling a manufactured form of this http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Ty ... B_20180119)
or simply pull the back off and have complete access to the damage. You'll be doing that anyway if you are considering rebracing. The real issue here is time/cost for the client and doing what they want. If you go with extra light steel strings, I think you would be OK for either bracing system.

Good luck and keep us informed!

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