No Parlour Tricks

While the lacquer is curing on the Telecaster, I’ve been turning my thoughts to the next guitar build. This build is based on a dinky little 19th century parlour guitar which came into the workshop in Totnes for repair. Compared to Esmerelda the parlour is quite tiny;  the widest measurement across the lower bout coming in at 304mm compared to Esme’s shapely 412mm. The delicate feel of the parlour guitar is accentuated by a period correct 12 fret neck to body join.

I started this build in a previous workshop before the summer-of-whiskey-and-tears (an actual period of time) prompted house moves across 3 cities and put all woodworking on ice for a spell. So now that the Telecaster is done save for levelling and polishing the lacquer and final set up, it is high time that I press on with the parlour guitar.

Given the delicate proportions, the parlour guitar is going to be a finger picking guitar, and I have selected timber for a warm but clear and balanced tonality. The back and ribs are a lovely set of American Red Gum (a member of the eucalyptus family, I beleve) which I bought from the very nice chaps at Brook Guitars (by any reckoning one of the best acoustic guitar workshops in the UK). Red Gum has a very clear sound similar to maple, which will be complimented by the warmer overtones of the yellow cedar soundboard.

The neck is a nice, straight grained piece of steamed pear. Ordinarily I would plumb for mahogany for acoustic necks, but the pinkish hue of steamed pear was a better match for the Red Gum back and ribs, and as neck timber contributes very little to the sound of the instrument I decided to go with what looked best.  It is the neck I have been working on recently, and which I will be blogging about in the next couple of days. But before diving into documenting this build, I thought it would be useful to introduce the instrument and outline initial design choices.


Yellow cedar soundboard and American Red Gum back, photographed in my grandfather’s shed, several years ago.

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