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  #1  
Old 01-21-2020, 03:14 AM
SeagullMan SeagullMan is offline
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Default Identifying an Antique Parlor Guitar

I recently inherited an old parlor guitar that I was told had been purchased new by either my great-great uncle, or his father (my great-great-great uncle) before making its way to me. Verifying which of my uncles actually purchased it is proving to be a near impossible task, but hopefully identifying the guitar itself will be a little easier. ��

There are no markings or labels that I can see. Although I could be wrong, the research I've done tonight leads me to believe it's a Lyon & Healy of some kind. I still have no idea of the exact age or model though.

The back and sides are oak, but they appear to be laminated to a different type of wood on the inside. It has binding around the top, but none around the back. The perfectly mirrored/symmetrical herringbone sticker on the back is something I haven't been able to find a match for on Google Images.

I'm mostly asking just for fun and to satiate my curiosity about a family heirloom, but if anyone on here can help me pinpoint what it is and/or what decade it would have been made in, that would be super cool, and very much appreciated! ��

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by SeagullMan; 01-21-2020 at 04:48 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-21-2020, 05:49 AM
Parlorman Parlorman is offline
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The bridge is similar to the Larson Brothers design but it doesn’t look original to the guitar so that’s not much help. Not much else resembles a Larson either.

The metal tailpiece isn’t original either so I would disregard it as a clue to the maker.

Have you looked at images of early Washburn’s?
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Bill

Guitars:

1910's Larson/Stetson 1 size guitar
1920's Larson/Stahl 00 size guitar
1920 Martin 1-28
1963 Gibson Hummingbird
1987 Martin Schoenberg Soloist
2014 Froggy Bottom L Deluxe Koa
2015 Rainsong P12
2017 Probett Rocket III
1993 Fender Stratocaster

Banjo: Stelling Golden Cross
Mandolin: Weber Bitterroot
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  #3  
Old 01-21-2020, 06:01 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Interesting guitar, SeagullMan - it might well be one of the budget models that Lyon & Healy made a hundred or more years ago. That squared off headstock shape that we now think of as being a characteristically Martin shape was used by many competing companies back then, Lyon & Healy prominent among them.

There are several other forum participants on here that are much better versed in this era of guitars than I am, so hopefully theyíll see this thread and chime in. I do find it curious that the guitar has both bridge pins and a tailpiece, so it seems obvious that one or the other was added after the guitar left the factory.

The use of a length of fret wire for the saddle is a sign that this was definitely an inexpensive guitar in its day, as is the use of oak for the back and sides.

More than that I canít tell you, except to mention that many of the guitars from this era that have pinned bridges werenít intended for use with steel strings - steel guitar strings used to have loop ends, just as mandolin and banjo strings still have. Pinned bridges were used with gut strings - a knot was tied in the end of the string and the pin was wedged over it to hold it in place.

The use of ball ends on steel strings was an adaptation to the pinned bridges already in common use for gut string guitars, not the other way around. But because these days we tend to automatically associate pinned bridges with steel strings, many a gut string parlor guitar has been ruined by using steel strings on it.

So double check with whoever works on the guitar for you to make certain before you string it with steel.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 01-21-2020, 06:04 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Bill, back when this guitar was made Washburn was one of the many brands that Lyon & Healy manufactured. It was their flagship brand, in fact, just as Seagull guitars are the flagship brand out of the several different guitar brands that Godin now manufactures.


whm
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  #5  
Old 01-21-2020, 06:11 AM
Parlorman Parlorman is offline
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I agree Wade. However Washburn’s were made by several different builders over the years and looking at a gallery of Washburn images might be worthwhile.

Some of these lower end guitars can be tough to identify, especially when some key features, like bridges, have been modified.
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Bill

Guitars:

1910's Larson/Stetson 1 size guitar
1920's Larson/Stahl 00 size guitar
1920 Martin 1-28
1963 Gibson Hummingbird
1987 Martin Schoenberg Soloist
2014 Froggy Bottom L Deluxe Koa
2015 Rainsong P12
2017 Probett Rocket III
1993 Fender Stratocaster

Banjo: Stelling Golden Cross
Mandolin: Weber Bitterroot
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Old 01-21-2020, 06:30 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Oh, okay, I stand corrected, then. I had been under the impression that Washburns were always made by Lyon & Healy until the 1970ís or whenever it was that Rudy the Austrian guy in the Chicago suburbs bought the brand name and started using it on Asian-made imports.

But if Washburns were built by several manufacturers back then, okay. Good to know.


whm
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Old 01-21-2020, 06:45 AM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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M first thought was Lyon & Healy as well. But without a close inspection even those who have experience with pre-War parlors are not going to be able to say anything definitive. It could also be a Cerrito or other small builder. You need to look at the build - the neck joint, the carve of the bracing, how many braces there are and such.

Off the top of my head, obviously the tailpiece is not original. As far as I know the only two builders who continued to place the position marker on the 10th rather than the 9th fret into the 1900s would be Larson Bros. and Oscar Schmidt. Before that though, it was fairly common.
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Last edited by zombywoof; 01-21-2020 at 07:02 AM.
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  #8  
Old 01-21-2020, 07:02 AM
Norsepicker Norsepicker is offline
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Default Washburn

These are really hard to identify. I purchased one (simple appointments but Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, no binding) and it came with a certificate from George Gruhn saying it was a John C Haynes (Boston). My luthier did a rebuild and found a ďWĒ on one of the braces inside. The history of them is interesting, having to do with Swedish guitar makers who worked for Haynes who was the owner of the company, not a builder. They then moved to Chicago where Lyon and Healy was, so Iíve had a mild curiosity about itís provenance for a number of years. You can find this stuff online. One thing you might consider is removing the tailpiece. They were made for gut strings, but the classicals by Thomastik Infield give it a nice, if soft, steel string sound witout pulling off the bridge or causing the top to belly.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:15 AM
hermithollow hermithollow is offline
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Wade, you had it right. The Lyon and Healy company made several "brands" of guitar including Washburn, Lakewood, Thornward, and several others. The modern Washburn company just resurrected the Washburn name but has no real connection with the original Chicago firm.
The guitar in question I believe is one of their budget models with a grain painted finish (probably on poplar or birch - not laminated) The "ebonized" bridge looks original, the tail piece does not. The guitar was probably intended for gut strings and the tail piece added to support steel (I would remove the tail piece and string it in nylon) It looks like a guitar that would have been sold through the catalog stores - probably 1920's. Not a high end guitar, but it is a 100 year old antique and appears to be in good condition, and is also a family heirloom.
The modern Washburn company acquired the name and then contracted other companies to manufacture the guitars for them - kind of the reverse business model from the original company that died out in the 1940's.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:25 AM
Parlorman Parlorman is offline
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L&H did start Washburn, but they were later made by Tonk Brothers and J.R. Stewart. Regal Musical Instruments (who bought the name “Regal” from L&H) made Washburn’s still later on.
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Bill

Guitars:

1910's Larson/Stetson 1 size guitar
1920's Larson/Stahl 00 size guitar
1920 Martin 1-28
1963 Gibson Hummingbird
1987 Martin Schoenberg Soloist
2014 Froggy Bottom L Deluxe Koa
2015 Rainsong P12
2017 Probett Rocket III
1993 Fender Stratocaster

Banjo: Stelling Golden Cross
Mandolin: Weber Bitterroot
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:26 AM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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I just noticed the guitar does not have the reverse tuners with the cog wheel above the post which points to the 1930s.

And trying o figure out Lyon & Healy is not an easy task. Lyon & Healy and Washburn were at various times connected with Regal, J. R. Stewart and Tonk Bros so it becomes a "Who's on First" thing.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:55 AM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
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...based on the reference book I own and my own 1889 Washburn...it’s not a Washburn...the flattened pyramid bridge suggests that it might be but the carve isn’t quite right...the saddle is way off...the headstock is definitely not right...the slots would be squared at the top and rounded but not dart shaped at the bottom.......the stripped down cosmetics are not found even on the base models of the period that the guitar appears to be from...plus similar era Washburn’s would likely have a Washburn label or brand and a serial number stamped inside...add to that the fact that Washburn didn’t use oak for body wood .I would be surprised if you could nail down the maker of this particular guitar....
...all that said it’s a really cool guitar...I have a buddy with a very similar oak parlor and it’s a really sweet guitar...

Last edited by J Patrick; 01-21-2020 at 08:06 AM.
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Old 01-21-2020, 08:12 AM
SeagullMan SeagullMan is offline
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WOW. I was not expecting so many detailed replies so soon. You guys are awesome! ���� Thank you!

I'll have to take a closer look at the neck joint and internals and see how it all fits. It's good to know that the bridge and tailpiece are likely not original to the guitar. I couldn't find another one on Google images with the same combination of the two, so that was driving me crazy. �� The bridge was the main thing that steered me in the direction of Lyon & Healy as well, so that might not be the smoking gun I first suspected it was.

I know it's of little monetary value, so I'm not super concerned about being able to nail down the exact make and model if it proves to be difficult. It has the same value to my family and I no matter what it is. ��

Last edited by SeagullMan; 01-21-2020 at 08:26 AM.
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Old 01-21-2020, 08:23 AM
SeagullMan SeagullMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hermithollow View Post
Wade, you had it right. The Lyon and Healy company made several "brands" of guitar including Washburn, Lakewood, Thornward, and several others. The modern Washburn company just resurrected the Washburn name but has no real connection with the original Chicago firm.
The guitar in question I believe is one of their budget models with a grain painted finish (probably on poplar or birch - not laminated) The "ebonized" bridge looks original, the tail piece does not. The guitar was probably intended for gut strings and the tail piece added to support steel (I would remove the tail piece and string it in nylon) It looks like a guitar that would have been sold through the catalog stores - probably 1920's. Not a high end guitar, but it is a 100 year old antique and appears to be in good condition, and is also a family heirloom.
The modern Washburn company acquired the name and then contracted other companies to manufacture the guitars for them - kind of the reverse business model from the original company that died out in the 1940's.
I think you're bang-on with this assessment. I've only had the guitar for a couple days, but now that I've had a chance to look it over again, it definitely looks painted or stamped on somehow. They did a pretty good job of it though. I'm impressed. ��
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Old 01-21-2020, 09:03 AM
ship of fools ship of fools is offline
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Default Lyon and Healy it is

That bridge is not original to the guitar. It had a floating bridge and its a very inexpensive made lyon and healy and not part of the Washburn family by L&H. That tailpiece is original to the guitar and was made some where in around the 1920's.But this is only a big probably.That bridge is carved wrong for a L&H I do not recall any with a side ways carved out like this one is.
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