The Canadian Guitar Forum banner

21 - 37 of 37 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
Is the action inconsistent or just generally high all along the neck? Those are great instruments I'd love to own either one of them. Maybe not dollar value high price but solid players.

I lent my classical guitar to my son when he was learning to play about age 10 or 11. By the next week he had figured out Boulevard of Broken Dreams and was singing away loud as he could strumming it hard with a pick. He felt about half an inch tall when I showed him the marks it was leaving on the top but he felt better when I said I knew it was time to buy him his own guitar he was obviously hooked on playing.

j
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,284 Posts
Discussion Starter #23
@Sketchy Jeff , overall action is uniform, but higher than I would like. When fretted at first and last frets simultaneously, it shows that both necks and frets are visually within spec. I don’t own those fancy neck checking tools yet. I should though for the number of guitars that are in my possession.

The bone bridge insert is about as low as possible on the Argentine guitar, so it won’t be shaved down by me. The body cracks on the top, next to the fretboard concern me. All the other cracks look like easy fixes. The guitar is very, very dry. After a day of humidity in a case, the sound of the guitar is now starting to bloom. It needs much more hydration. The frets are well sprouted, getting that much water into the guitar may never happen, but I will give it weeks, to months if necessary. I am also watching every crack repair video on YouTube, that seems applicable to what needs to happen. Bottom line, this one is the keeper for me. I will be looking into the best way to get this one to go to my acoustic amplification gear. I want this one to be my ‘Trigger’.

The Goya had a very tall bridge piece. Looked original, untouched. The action at the 12th fret was between 6-6.5 mm on low E, and a little over 5 mm on high E.

Last night I shaved the bridge bone down, and got the numbers to a hair less than 5 mm on low E, and 4 mm on high E. I am not sure about taking the bone down any lower yet. High E has never sounded right to my ear, even though the tuner says it’s right. New strings, and likely humidity for the guitar are required.

In a few more hours it will be time to check how the Argentine is doing, maybe add more water or sponges. Day one had a large Dampit. Day two I added a small sponge.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,284 Posts
Discussion Starter #25
@MarkM , the local L&M doesn't have what I want. I have to order online. I get distracted easily. It takes my full concentration to accomplish anything these days. My days are full of distractions and the trouble I get myself into.

Today I went over to the ladies house who gave me the guitars. She received a notice from the plumbing company about cleaning the backwater valve and check sump pump operations.

That should have taken me 30 minutes, tops. The way those Bozos did the install, made servicing difficult. Access to bolts in several places were ridiculously stupid. Then a couple of Stainless nuts fell off, fell deep into debris with no access. Got the idea. Try to help someone and it bites you in the ass. It took frustrating hours longer, with a smile on my face. Sad part is that I recommended that company to her. I had to make it right.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
It would be interesting to know the life history of the Argentinian one. I wonder if it lived for a lot of years in quite high humidity and then went into air conditioned storage in a heating climate and hasn't been played much since. That said those cracks have been there a long time the instrument could have gotten them early and settled in with the crack in place. If you have time might be worth letting them sit in good humidity and get played regularly through a seasonal cycle and see if they expand or contract.

I don't know the answer to this question but I wonder if an instrument like that can drink up humidity too quickly so you get differential tension within the wood rather than the simple tension between the top and the neck moving separately that appears to have caused those two cracks in the first place.

what's the sound like with new strings? my guess is the Argentinian one is really bright with that resinous pine-ish top and the Goya much rounder sounding

j
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,284 Posts
Discussion Starter #27
@Sketchy Jeff , I was told today that her husband got the Argentine guitar when they got married. He was American, and we are a border town. The Goya is a 1965, and likely bought some time after the mid sixties. Perhaps the cracks were already happening at that time.

The best that she could tell me is that it was a beautiful, better sounding guitar than the Goya, in her opinion. She doesn’t notice things like the cracks. It also sounds like they were in this neighbourhood since the very early sixties. When I listen to her, it really sounds like she doesn’t believe in having multiples of things, or excess. The house definitely looks that way.

All of her husbands tools, workshop, woodworking tools are all still neatly there. Quite a nice collection. Her son has transformers, old radios, and other electronics gear there. He is very successful internationally in the mold industry. She says he has no time for all this ‘stuff’.

Her husband died just after retirement, so likely about 30 years ago. The Goya was in the case, the Breyer sat out, both untouched since then. I was told that the guitars were played weekly at get togethers, up until then.

I saw the furnace today. It is the original from 1957. It is natural gas, with no humidifier. She has central air conditioning, but not running overly cool.

No new strings yet. I tried to repair the tuners for the steel string side. The 4 screws were barely holding to the headstock. I have toothpick pieces in the holes for now and things are tighter, perhaps more stable. The guitar sounds sweeter every day, and barre chords are now becoming more possible, and the open cowboy chords, are starting to ring every single note. I have to shop for the new strings that were suggested, and maybe a set that Willie Nelson uses. They are the same brand.

I have read about being careful about reintroducing humidity, when something has been dry for a very long time. Where wood originated from geographically sometimes makes a difference. Doing my best not to make a bad decision. I have lots of guitars to keep me busy.

As for the manufacturer, I loosely found a 60 plus year span of dates of instruments, 1911 to 1969 that were still in existence somewhere and online. A company with the same name, exists today as a music shop, selling pianos, guitars, and such. They even carried Ovation guitars at one time. I have seen price ranges being asked from little, to unbelievable, from top tier International specialty guitar shops. Who knows?

To me it’s just a cool little guitar that I want to try and bond with.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
FYI L&M does have some fairly decent classical strings. The straight Martin classical brand is not too bad provided you don't buy the cheapo ball end crappy ones. If you do try D'Addario then a mixed set might be the best sounding option. D'Addario normal tension trebles on the Goya might not make it ring very well but high tension trebles could made the Goya really sing. Normal tension D'Addario basses will be a low risk option. The last time I was at L$M they did have D'Addario singles so you can do mixed sets. But it will cost a little more than buying whole sets. High tension basses with high tension trebles might be perfectly fine on the Goya as they were built originally a little more stiff and robust, this is most likely why the G10 is sill in almost playable condition today.

The more I look at that Argentine guitar the more I am convinced that it may have been built by some of the very same builders that built for most of the best musicians in South America including players and composers like the great Augustine Barrios from Paraguay. They did have a hard time getting tight straight grain spruce for their tops so they reserved their best woods only for custom builds the same way most luthiers do to this very day. From the looks now that you have cleaned the finger crud it was a stock guitar with lower grade woods except the fingerboard because back then ebony was still fairly inexpensive, please post some pictures of he back wood of that guitar, it could very well be low grade Jacaranda that does not have pronounced grain lines so it was not considered high grade. Most likely the back and sides are of a rosewood of some description. The guitar most likely was fitted originally with gut strings which oddly enough can be even stiffer than today's nylon strings. Segovia played on gut all the way until nylgut style strings came along. HOWEVER as anyone who is familiar with spruce top guitars know, the looks of the wood can mean absolutely nothing. If the guitar is built well with a modern Torres based classical bracing pattern in the first place as long as the wood is close to being on the quarter the top will sing well and it will take the tensions of today's nylon classical guitar strings.

If I had the guitar I would do a full resaw re-fret after doing table levelling job on the finger board. Crack seal the upper bout cracks and touch up the finish especially where it is blown out to bare wood on the top. The whole job would most like come out to about 500 bucks but it may very well be worth the spend in a few years as older Torres style braced classicals are starting to really gain steam as is the music of Barrios like this wonderful peace that he wrote.
What is really strange is that Barrios had his guitars reinforced to handle steel strings and he played them all his storied carrier! Which is absolutely amazing he must have had nails that could have cracked glass.
Or my favourite player from South America
Here she is playing and talking about the last guitar owned by the great Augustine Barrios the composer of the above piece of music. This guitar was original built to have steel strings but was rebuilt to take nylons a few years back.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,284 Posts
Discussion Starter #30 (Edited)
@Eric Reesor , I wish that I had a fraction of your knowledge base.

I really don’t know who to turn to locally for advice. I have thought about having it looked at, to formulate a plan, an perhaps spend what is required. My experience in this area of acoustic guitars was nonexistent, until I got these a few days ago. I also don’t want to be taken advantage of.

I do believe that it is lower line materials, but intentionally built to a master’s standards quite well, to a price point for the times it was intended to be used. Surviving, or lasting this long was something that may have not been originally intended. It is a very lightweight, almost delicate feeling guitar, in contrast to the Goya. The Goya structure wise feels rigid, or stiff as you described. I am certain that the Goya was built to take the abuse of a beginner and last, at an entry level. It just feels so durable.

I may take the Goya to L&M, and investigate their limited selection, and look to see what matches your suggestions.

I am thankful for your insight, and will post some pictures taken in daylight later today. Perhaps you or others can catch some details that will further educate me.

Also the issue of how strings are attached is a concern. Tied vs. balled end. Proper engagement to the rollers on the headstock. Both guitars have different approaches, and at the headstock it was quite willynilly. Something else to learn.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
price ranges being asked from little, to unbelievable
ha ha isn't that the way it goes. attach the words 'vintage' or 'authentic' to a thing and watch the price spectrum spread out between garbage and the crown jewels

it's a shame to see an instrument become wall art unused but in your case i suppose it may have saved it from going to the dump and it's got a great story behind it

j
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,284 Posts
Discussion Starter #32
I decided to go to L&M and ask the tech for a string recommendation for the Goya. Basically to get my feet wet, so to say. Told him I am an electric player, and what lightweights I generally used on acoustics. Also talked about ball ends, tensions, and such.

Basically recommended these.
image.jpg


They have to be better than the dried up strings that were on it.

Also, after removing strings, I gave the fretboard a thorough cleaning and the first oiling since who knows when. Letting it absorb what it can for a few hours before wipe down and string install. I am really surprised how much fret wear there is for nylon strings being on this Goya. I really didn’t see it until the strings came off and a cleaning. I know my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. I will do a fret polish as well. They should be dressed some with a file, perhaps next time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
@Tone Chaser FYI the Argentine built guitar most likely used animal based glues or what is called hide glue to assemble the instrument. Whereas the Goya is almost certainly put together with more modern wood glues that are a little less resistant to traditional disassembly repair techniques. The Goya has a heavy spray lacquer finish (most likely Nitro of some sort) whereas the other guitar is most likely much thinner finish of a spray or rub on shellac of some sort by the looks of what I am seeing in the picks.

BTW the Ernie Ball branded ball end classical strings are most likely from exactly the same as manufacturer Martin branded classical guitar strings. They will sound better than what was on the guitar but if the bridge has any crack issues or over sizing along the line of string holes using a ball end might be a real problem and is why I recommended not to use ball end classical guitar strings.

Look very carefully at the bridge holes to see if there is a crack anywhere in line or if the holes or if they are oversized already from having ball ends on the instrument for years and years. Essentially metal ball end nylon strings can burrow into hard wood if used on a classical guitar with the strings at tension for a great many years.

The Beyer is made of solid mahogany on the back and needs work to fix things properly without a doubt. The sides might be laminated but you can't know for sure until you have the back off the guitar. Upon further view the fingerboard is almost certainly an ebonized wood not pure ebony.

Unfortunately IMO the amount of work necessary to bring the Breyer back to a stable condition and make it play to the height of what it is capable of sounding might not be worth the resale value of such an instrument at this time. But in a few years historic instruments that are made out of solid woods that can sound absolutely fantastic will outpace all the crap that is currently being made!
Solid spruce with a solid mahogany back guitars will last if serviced well, they can sound fantastic. Cheap hide glue was used for a very good reason, it makes the repair of instruments over time possible. Putting cheap guitars together like they do today in the guitar factories with essentially PL Premium so they cannot be easily taken apart to repair without a saw and knife job is a travesty IMO.

The mahogany on the back was not a perfect quarter saw but close enough judging by the looks of the crack in the pic. It is hard to say which wood was used for the fingerboard but it most likely a hard ebonized maple of some kind. That component was available even back in the late 19th and early 20th century and was used on most less expensive guitars that you see built in the 1920's and even earlier like most old Stella parlours or cheap Sear Roebuck catalogue classical guitars. The Beyer may very well have been distributed by Eatons or Sears. It would be an interesting exercise to go to the main Toronto library to see if any of the 1920-40's catalogues from Sears or Eatons have that particular guitar advertised in them.

Personally I would restore the Beyer but not expect it to be of any real value except to people who are in the know and love and cherish the sound of old guitars.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,284 Posts
Discussion Starter #35
@Eric Reesor , there are times that I just love this forum. This is one of them.

It’s nice to get input, evaluation, and information, that helps develop a plan with a course of action. Your information gives valuable knowledge, so I can more intelligently seek out proper help for this project.

The second last picture, is a shot of one of the sides, and it has a long, fine crack running lengthwise in the middle. I don’t know if laminate does that.

There are perhaps 8 cracks in the guitar, 4 of which let daylight through. I will keep humidifying cautiously. If the back has to come off, many issues can be resolved easier, and structure overall verified. That kind of work is not for me, or my lacking skill set. Finding someone who works with the old kinds of glue sounds like a priority.

As for the Goya, she is solid. It came to me with ball end strings. My next set may be a tied set, so I can learn. I put those strings on about two hours ago. I was hearing all kinds of noises. I have to go back and look at the things you mentioned. I most likely have half of the strings wound correctly, and the other three with too much string.
It already sounds much better, and is more playable. I always found nylon strung guitars difficult to enjoy. Part of this is an attempt to get proficient and comfortable on a classical instrument. I don’t know how long until tuning becomes stable.

Once again, thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
Thanks for the warm words @Tone Chaser

Looking more closely at the pictures of the back and sides they look like old Dalbergia spruceana. Which at the time was considered cheap wood when it was still fairly abundant in numbers of larger trees in South America. Now so called Amazon Rosewood is getting harder to find on the quarter wide enough for guitar backs because of the way it was used for furniture, trim flooring and just about every other purpose a good hardwood is used. The back might have been off and then refinished and reattached at some point in history. The original guitar most likely had the same finish and no stain to cover things up like re-glue work that required large wood fill.

Extremely cheap guitars do not have bindings all around because of the extra labour costs involved in the process of binding all the joints. The old 1960's Gibson classical guitars didn't have any bindings at all. but then again they were crap and a terrible waste of good woods! To make things worse they were not even correctly intoned because they were just quickly laid out with steel string spacing jig to attach the bridge as if Gibson and Co didn't even check the differences between steel and nylon string scale length adjustment before flooding the market with their Classycal Geetars!
I have helped fix a few of them by correcting the intonation by moving it forward at the bridge over the years.... I have even heard of numbers of the cheap steel string guitars from Quebec showing up with an inaccurate intonation setup. So some factory guitars that are dogs can suddenly sound really great, that is if you know how to fix them, %h(*& Too bad that there isn't an emoticon for duck and cover on this forum LOL

Also the thickness of the fingerboard tells me that the action has room to be worked on if the guitar undergoes a re-fret with tall frets, it is very difficult to tell whether or not all this high end work is worth the effort. The cracks along the sides of the fingerboard on the top may be from having a loose back because the structure is dependent upon a tight fit from the back which stiffens the slipper foot block inside the guitar that joins the neck to the body of the guitar.

The method to fix things like this is fairly simple, with the guitar at rest unstrung: the back is removed and the guitar is put into a shaping jig and neck angle is slowly corrected so that the action can easily then be set to around 4mm across at the twelfth fret. The back is then re-attached with all cracks and problems taken care of where it is possible to do it without disturbing the top of the guitar except to put the body in correct line with the rest of the guitar. If you watch the video of my brother building classical guitars you will see the details of how the guitar is made stable in jigs during construction.

Yes the sides might very well be solid but veneer can crack on plywood. BTW some very expensive guitars have plywood sides but solid backs and tops.

Best way to determine if the sides are solid is to blow through the widest part of the crack with the rest of the crack temporarily taped closed. If your eyes don't pop out of your head trying to get air to move through the wood then most likely the wood is not a plywood.;)
Here is the vid with Segovia doing the accompaniment to my brother building classical guitars. My efforts to create a decent background for the vid are not up to standard quite yet but I will keep trying if I ever get the time to go fishing, recording and get the hell out of the city where I cannot seem to find the peace and quiet necessary to play the way I know I am capable. Hope you enjoy the video if you have not already seen it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
On second and third looks the wood on the back and sides may not be a true rosewood but the species Platymischium spp. "Macacauba" which is quite often mistaken for Amazon Rosewood which would make sense because it was used frequently on inexpensive South American made musical instruments, as you can see it looks very similar in the raw. It is still available but is now becoming fairly expensive so it is not common except perhaps on guitars from the guitar factories where they buy logs not guitar sets like most luthiers who hand build custom instruments to order must do. So most likely it is used on some of the 1200 dollar range guitars from China like Cordoba branded and the like as well as decent solid wood instruments from Mexico and elsewhere. But a Luthier like my brother would have to charge more for guitars built with it just to make minimum wages on a high quality custom solid wood build.
So like I have said in other posts on this forum the quality of sound of the guitar build depends greatly upon the integrity of the wood not so much the looks or the species chosen. This species is somewhat similar to a heavy walnut in tonal character which is fantastic on classical guitars because it can add warmth to the upper partials as it rings provided the back of the guitar is not muted by the player and the wood is allowed to ring during play. Something some players forget about classical guitars and steel string acoustics. The top and the back do create the sound the sides can be laminated because they do not really ring at all. A good guitar has great complexity of sounds going on inside the box and is the reason why the tone can have great character.

So indeed the guitar is definitely worth salvaging as an instrument but it may not be worth the costs of fixing if you decide to sell it. The biggest concern is if it has separated between the back and the neck at the interior glue joint connection between the bottom of the foot. If it has the back will definitely need to be taken off and properly re glued to the body of the guitar. You might be able to tell by tapping specifically at the point of the back of the guitar where the neck joins the body. If there is any noise at all other than that of the tap then something has come loose right where you are tapping. A slight crunching noise indicates old dried out glue in a very loose large glue joint. I guess I don't have to tell you not to go overboard and try wiggling the neck back and forth to see if it is also coming loose. The integrity of hide glue joint can be easily become degraded by high temps and high humidity over time to the point where movement in the wood due to moisture level changes cause the guitar to come apart.
I hate what the summers in southern Ontariario can do...... they can eat guitars that sit in heated houses all winter long and get dried out. I remember summers there being good for growing corn and bacteria as well as chaffing the hell out of my arm pits.
 
21 - 37 of 37 Posts
Top