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Will-Nash jeffmatz

mystery guitar

I had a chance to play this interesting and unique guitar on a recent trip to France. Any one here ever see one like it? It's very old and what a sound!


  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,240
    Hmmm. Interesting. I don't recognize it as one of the majors - maybe if I got up inside it and saw how the braces were placed / trimmed or some of the other signature things like how the brace layouts were marked (there are a lot of little things like file marks where they tuned the bracing or how the ends of the braces were trimmed or how the pencil marks were made to show the layout of the braces that sort of point out who it might have been. Once you see the inside of a few guitars these things are a better indication of the maker than a label.

    Offhand... a few things that might help...

    Headstock / soundhole are nods in the American direction - or a luthier who was inspired by non-European guitars.

    Tuners & fret markers are also American influenced though they are easily replaced so not a sure indication.

    Tailpiece is the generic Favino variety commonly availble - though easily replaced so not an indication.

    Soundboard looks to be Western Cedar - could be European but likely North American.

    Back & sides really look to be a European Maple - could be North American but seems unlikely.

    Dead on Selmer Mustache but in Rosewood... indicates ?? Built by someone with a good eye for detail? Some European training? Bought it premade? Added later?

    Thick-ish purfling of the style you see on a lot of guitars coming out of Europe in past decades - seems a little thicker than what was common on American instruments... either an indication of European build or just another example of a guy with an eye for detail??

    Lack of purfling on the back and the slant to the cutout tend to indicate to me that this guitar was built by someone who didn't have a ton of tools and was not used to building this style of guitar... (hadn't built a lot of specialized jigs) Maple is more difficult to notch for purfling by hand than Mahogany is... or even Rosewood for that matter as Maple is both hard and stringy... making it a real bear to cut accurately by hand... a place on the treble side large bout looks like he might have started trying to cut purfling and then thought better of it as the blade started to wander... hard to tell from a picture. Also, the slant in the cutout would tend to indicate that the guy was used to doing non-slanted cutouts (Western Style) because when you rotate that neck return it slants the cutout in that fashion unless you preform the bend.

    So... put it all together and I'm guessing it was the product of an American living in Europe or a European in love with American guitars who didn't have a lot of specialized jigs/tools for building GJ guitars, but who had a very good eye for detail and who had experience building Western style guitars. The work looks good and clean though - particularly the neck joint and the top purfling's fit to the sides; an indication the guy had at least some experience. Seems like a guy trying out a new style who didn't want to build a bunch of specialized jigs to build one GJ guitar so he did a lot of it freehand (and didn't attempt the ovoid rosette... another indication) The headstock looks freehand too - particularly near the base - which sort of makes sense if he was used to building Western style because shaping the neck/headstock join is a little different for D-shaped necks than C-shaped necks so he probably bit into the headstock a little too far up on one side while trying to get that transition smooth. All of this is just a guess though. OK, glue is dry - gotta go make some braces. Fun mystery.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
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