New guitar questions. Do the 80s count as vintage?

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StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
... the 1880s, that is?

https://postimg.cc/gallery/gl4oesf0/

So... many years ago I was in one of the acoustic shops in Denmark Street and tried out a pre-war Washburn parlour guitar. I thought it was fantastic, but they wanted £4k for it and I didn't have £4k.

Then last week I spotted this on eBay -- listed as a Lyon and Healy parlour model from before 1887 (something to do with the shape of the neck joint apparently). Happily it wasn't £4k and now it's mine. Tis a dinky little thing with the most V-shaped neck ever!

It sounds great although the existing strings are a bit knackered and I don't have a spare set here. Seller says that he uses conventional but light steel strings, is that OK or should I go for low tension ones? There's a crack running along the bridge, but I'm told this is stable and has been that way for years. Most of the strings intonate a bit sharp at the 12th but I'm hoping that is partly the ancient strings. Action is high-ish but playable -- about 4.5mm at the 12th on the low E -- and of course there is no truss rod. Wondering whether it might be worth thinking about a neck reset at some point.





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Comments

  • DiscoStuDiscoStu Frets: 2870
    That's cool. I can't imagine there are many folk on here with a 19th century guitar. Good luck getting it set up and looking forward to a sound clip or two.
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  • DulcetJonesDulcetJones Frets: 399
    Cool.  As for 80's and "vintage" goes, I was listening to a pop radio station (by accident) that called itself an oldies station.  They were playing Duran Duran and other 80's hits.  I feel old now.

    Whoever called it "rush hour" should not be allowed to name anything else.

    Dulcet Jones Creepy Music Blog http://dulcetjones.blogspot.com/

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  • jimmyguitarjimmyguitar Frets: 1504
    Lovely guitar! I think the bridge does need looking at just to be safe. While you’re at it just get them to advise re neck set and string guage. It’s worth getting it back to it’s best.
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  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 1639
    Stuckfast said:
    Action is high-ish but playable -- about 4.5mm at the 12th on the low E -- and of course there is no truss rod. Wondering whether it might be worth thinking about a neck reset at some point.

    Yep, it seems a neck reset is on the cards. 

    As for strings, I think if my memory serves me correctly some of the guys from the Martin forum like Thomastik for their pre 1920's acoustic guitars. Closer to home the Newtone Heritage strings in 10-47 should work as well. 
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    Thanks all, I shall take it to a tame luthier and see what he says. Any idea what the going rate for a neck reset is, if needed?
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  • GarthyGarthy Frets: 1774
    Cool.  As for 80's and "vintage" goes, I was listening to a pop radio station (by accident) that called itself an oldies station.  They were playing Duran Duran and other 80's hits.  I feel old now.
    I can see the arguement for calling 80s Jacksons, Charvels, Kramers and ESPs vintage, but not Fenders, Gibson or PRS.
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  • jimmyguitarjimmyguitar Frets: 1504
    Stuckfast said:
    Thanks all, I shall take it to a tame luthier and see what he says. Any idea what the going rate for a neck reset is, if needed?
    About £300 my neck of the woods.
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    Ouch!

    Let's hope one is not required.
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    Thinking a bit more about this...

    The intonation is fine on the strings with the thinnest cores (high E and wound G) and progressively worse on the others, which is hardly surprising given that it's a short scale guitar and the saddle appears to be a single piece of fretwire. Would it be sacrilege to simply replace the original bridge with a modern compensated one? The intonation bothers me more than the high-ish action.
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  • brooombrooom Frets: 214
    That is a really cool find. I love the neck shape, that's V taken to the extreme. Definitely worth bringing it back into a state of playability. Let us know how it works out.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32276
    Stuckfast said:
    Thinking a bit more about this...

    The intonation is fine on the strings with the thinnest cores (high E and wound G) and progressively worse on the others, which is hardly surprising given that it's a short scale guitar and the saddle appears to be a single piece of fretwire. Would it be sacrilege to simply replace the original bridge with a modern compensated one? The intonation bothers me more than the high-ish action.
    If the saddle is simply fretwire, could you shave off enough of the bridge to remove the slot for it - which would also help the action - and re-slot it with compensation? That would leave the original bridge on the guitar.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    I'm a bit doubtful about modifying the original bridge to that extent -- it would take quite a bit of shaving to remove the slot and given that the bridge is already cracked I'd worry about damaging it further. I think it might be better to try to remove the original bridge intact so that any future owner could put it back if they so wished.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32276
    If you think you can get it off intact and without damaging the guitar that's probably the best solution, yes. Just get a new bridge made as close to the original as possible but lower and with a compensated saddle.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    It does look as if the bridge might have been re-fixed at some point anyway. We'll see.
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  • BillKatBillKat Frets: 1072

    Nice find!

    Is the neck bowing, that might account for some of the high action.

    Looks like that bridge has already been off at some point. Remove/replace will be relatively easy, with the finish being slightly gone around it.

    I'm slowly working through an old acoustic, no truss rod, I've removed the board, trued the neck and put in a square carbon fibre tube with titanium rod epoxied inside that. Making a bridge next, it had a similar but much worse split, was all butchered to hell.


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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    I haven't taken the strings off yet, but with the strings on the relief is pretty much spot on as far as I can see. If you fret at the first and last frets there is a hair's breadth of clearance in the middle.
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  • HattigolHattigol Frets: 1046
    Cool.  As for 80's and "vintage" goes, I was listening to a pop radio station (by accident) that called itself an oldies station.  They were playing Duran Duran and other 80's hits.  I feel old now.
    It's 33 years since Live Aid.
    I'll just leave that thought with you.
    "Anybody can play. The note is only 20%. The attitude of the motherf*cker who plays it is  80%" - Miles Davis
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    Hmmm. Took it to the guitar repair man this morning. He reckons a neck reset is definitely needed, but hopes that it should be fairly straightforward.

    The question that hasn't yet been answered is whether the split in the bridge runs down into the top and the brace behind it. If that's the case I think I might have to have words with the eBay seller, as it wasn't mentioned at all in the listing and wasn't visible on the photos.
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  • jimmyguitarjimmyguitar Frets: 1504
    Stuckfast said:
    Hmmm. Took it to the guitar repair man this morning. He reckons a neck reset is definitely needed, but hopes that it should be fairly straightforward.

    The question that hasn't yet been answered is whether the split in the bridge runs down into the top and the brace behind it. If that's the case I think I might have to have words with the eBay seller, as it wasn't mentioned at all in the listing and wasn't visible on the photos.
    Never say never but in my experience it’s always just been on the wood of the bridge running along the string holes. I’ve had a gibson and an old martin with that same issue. 
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  • jimmyguitarjimmyguitar Frets: 1504
    It should definitely have been mentioned by the seller though, as should the need for a reset.

    When buying old acoustics I always assume they’ll need a reset and some work and factor that into the price as it’s nearly always required. It’s worth doing though, it’ll be a lovely guitar to own once it’s been fettled!
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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 4784
    My (very brief) research indicates that the guitar predates steel strings by up to twenty years. Could this be the cause of the neck bow and the split?
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    The auction did say the action was "high but playable", which was a fair description and led me to think a reset might be on the cards.

    @thermionic where does that information come from? There is no bow in the neck, nor any bellying in the top -- it's just that the neck angle is wrong. The bridge looks original, or at least old, so it seems most likely to me that this was always intended to be steel strung. Of course it's quite possible that the date is wildly out, I have only the seller's word to go on there.
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  • kt66kt66 Frets: 157
    80s Rickenbackers have been growing in value. 
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  • jimmyguitarjimmyguitar Frets: 1504
    kt66 said:
    80s Rickenbackers have been growing in value. 
    You didn’t read the actual post did you?
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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 4784
    Stuckfast said:
    The auction did say the action was "high but playable", which was a fair description and led me to think a reset might be on the cards.

    @thermionic where does that information come from? There is no bow in the neck, nor any bellying in the top -- it's just that the neck angle is wrong. The bridge looks original, or at least old, so it seems most likely to me that this was always intended to be steel strung. Of course it's quite possible that the date is wildly out, I have only the seller's word to go on there.
    I just googled it and it seems that steel strings only took off at the turn of the 20th century. Just a hunch that something that old would not have been built for steel strings, which I think I read in a book.

    One of the links I found suggests that steel strings were around in the late 1800s but not common, and the guitars weren’t built for them : http://www.esomogyi.com/ssg1.html
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  • GagarynGagaryn Frets: 1301
    My (very brief) research indicates that the guitar predates steel strings by up to twenty years. Could this be the cause of the neck bow and the split?
    you beat me to it...

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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    So the repair guy I took it to has been poking around inside with a mirror and a camera, and reports that the bridge plate is not cracked, which is good news. He has quoted me £300 to rest the neck, replace the bridge and do a setup, which seems pretty reasonable. And remains slightly less than I paid for the thing.
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 334
    Just picked this up from Keith at Imperial Guitars, who I must say has done an amazing job, especially as he tells me the neck joint was an absolute bugger to work with. Slightly scarily, he says he tried various different string gauges and it only felt right with 13s, because of the short scale length and the stiffness of the neck, but it feels great to play, and the action is perfect -- 2mm at the 12th on the bass side and a bit less on the treble side. He's fitted a new bridge with a compensated saddle and the intonation is pretty good, if not quite 100 percent at the 12th.
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  • PukiBusukPukiBusuk Frets: 10
    1880's is beyond vintage, it's antique innit !
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