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Old 09-07-2019, 08:50 AM
Arumako Arumako is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 25
Default Nardan No.65 Late 50s Early 60s MIJ Archtop

Hello AGF,
Came across this unusual MIJ archtop project guitar. Looked through the archives here. Found very little information and wanted to share a bit about it. This is an MIJ, late 50s or early 60s Nardan No.65 archtop guitar.

Nardan was a subsidiary of Shinko Shyouji owned by Mr. Hatsuyoshi Iwata. Upon his return from Japan's failed occupation of Siberia, Mr. Iwata decided to invest his corporate assets into guitar building. Nardan specialized in archtop guitars and built many guitars for Teisco, Zenn-On, and Maruha Instruments.

Apparently, guitars built for the local market were labeled "Nardan" and their exports to neighboring Asian nations were labeled "Nardau". The Nardan instrument company closed its guitar building operations in the 70s. Today, Nardan is operated by Mr. Iwata's grandson as a manufacturer of "Taishyo Koto" (miniature koto harps) in Nagoya. Their handcrafted archtop guitars are still highly sought after in Japan - the most popular model was the No.100 which was all solid wood and sold for 10,000JPY (approx. $1,000 today). They still pop-up on auction sites from time to time. This one is No.65 and is built with laminate back and sides and a solid spruce top. Probably sold for about 6,500JPY (approx. $650.00 today). Despite an inexpensive heritage, it's historical approbation at least demands a serious restoration assessment. Before disassembly, need to give her the once over. Six screws to keep the back connected to the neck block, hmmm...

Strange wavy construction (or destruction by dropping) of the butt-end of the guitar is causing misalignment of the tail piece

Side cracks can be repaired with shims...

Nice bit of crushing near the butt-end - probably repairable...

Now, how many tuning pegs should we try on? Fortunately, repairable...

Okay well, let's take a look inside - off comes the back... The laminated back's arch is maintained with these curved ladder braces.

Yikes, some one's been in here before. Found 3 different types of adhesives. The original rice-based adhesive typical for Japanese builds of this era...very very brittle stuff. Some clear yellow epoxy, and some brown stuff. The epoxy and the brown stuff were added later probably to reinforce areas where the original adhesive came loose.

The top construction is equally surprising. Japan in the 50s was a country struggling to rise out of her depression after losing the war. Furniture manufacturers and carpenters started making musical instruments with familiar adhesives. The rice-based adhesives became very brittle after just a few years of use; hence the cleat reinforcements all over the braces and the kerfing.

There's also a lot of kerfing failure along the top and back sides of this guitar. Will need to use shims here also.

All-in-all a challenging, but not impossible restoration, I think. Hope to be sharing more as my journey unfolds. Probably going to be a long and slow restoration. Thanks for letting me share!

Last edited by Arumako; 09-07-2019 at 10:44 PM.
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