Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

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tateharmann
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Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by tateharmann » Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:36 pm

Aside from the Martins, does anyone else know of a concert make and model that would have been used to play classical repertoire at the turn of the last century? The Washburns are the only others I know of.

I've been reading concert reviews of folks like Will Foden and Vahdah Ocott-Bickford playing Sor and Mertz on Martin instruments. I also stumbled on some great guitarists like Ulrich Wedemeier and John Arnold playing American repertoire (de Janon and Foden) on period Martins. I really like this idea and was wondering how to get my foot in the door without spending a mini fortune on a vintage Martin ;) I say North American because I would not be opposed to a Canadian or Mexican instrument..

The Washburns are definitely more affordable and look just as exquisite. Check this one out:
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Marshall Dixon
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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by Marshall Dixon » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:52 pm

James Ashborn of Connecticut. Mid to later 19th century.

That is a lovely looking guitar. It makes me want to put a pyramid bridge on my next classical.

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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by tateharmann » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:57 pm

Thanks for the tip, Marshall...I will check into it ;)

You should do a pyramid bridge on your next build lol :)
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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by Marshall Dixon » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:58 pm

tateharmann wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:57 pm
Thanks for the tip, Marshall...I will check into it ;)

You should do a pyramid bridge on your next build lol :)
I read alot about the mass of the bridge and in regard to the pyramid design some might say that it would add unnecessary weight. But I'm inclined to the opinion that stiffness is as much of a factor and the way these bridge wings dip near the tieblock really loosens their action. I've done them on a number of steel string guitars. I think they're classy.

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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by sxedio » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:21 pm

Aren't the early martin designs similar to the viennese Staufer etc. designs? So maybe you can get away with any austrian or german make of that era, or a modern Staufer replica?

I didn't know washburn also dates from the gut string era.
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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by tateharmann » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:30 am

Marshall Dixon wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:58 pm
tateharmann wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:57 pm
Thanks for the tip, Marshall...I will check into it ;)

You should do a pyramid bridge on your next build lol :)
I read alot about the mass of the bridge and in regard to the pyramid design some might say that it would add unnecessary weight. But I'm inclined to the opinion that stiffness is as much of a factor and the way these bridge wings dip near the tieblock really loosens their action. I've done them on a number of steel string guitars. I think they're classy.
Makes sense, they do indeed look classy! Thanks for the tip on James Ashborn, BTW. What lovely instruments...a more proportionate plantilla in my opinion. The particular guitar of his that I was reading about was fan braced too, interesting.
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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by tateharmann » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:33 am

sxedio wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:21 pm
Aren't the early martin designs similar to the viennese Staufer etc. designs? So maybe you can get away with any austrian or german make of that era, or a modern Staufer replica?

I didn't know washburn also dates from the gut string era.
The early early Martins were essentially based on Staufers. Later on they really started coming into their own, though. Washburn's site says that they started building stringed instruments in Chicago around 1883 ;)
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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by Marshall Dixon » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:06 am

tateharmann wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:30 am
Marshall Dixon wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:58 pm
tateharmann wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:57 pm
Thanks for the tip, Marshall...I will check into it ;)

You should do a pyramid bridge on your next build lol :)
I read alot about the mass of the bridge and in regard to the pyramid design some might say that it would add unnecessary weight. But I'm inclined to the opinion that stiffness is as much of a factor and the way these bridge wings dip near the tieblock really loosens their action. I've done them on a number of steel string guitars. I think they're classy.
Makes sense, they do indeed look classy! Thanks for the tip on James Ashborn, BTW. What lovely instruments...a more proportionate plantilla in my opinion. The particular guitar of his that I was reading about was fan braced too, interesting.
I've only seen one of Ashborn's guitars for sale in a music store and that was years ago. I did some research but don't remember much. It made an impression as I thought about immediately when I saw your post. There was a New England luthier on line that had some info on his work and I think made copies, but I can't find him now. Another name that occurred to me is Oscar Schmidt. I read a book by Neil Harpe; The Stella Guitar Book, but I don't recall any reference to gut stringed instruments. When I looked up Oscar Schmidt just now it led me to (comercial site) "C Bruno guitar by Oscar Schmidt" and it appears that C Bruno was making or marketing guitars in the 1880's also and there were others for sale. Hard to know if they were originally meant for gut or steel. They all seem to be strung up with silk and steel now.

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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by MessyTendon » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:42 am

The early romantic guitars are not common, and although they have the same body style, the 1800's parlors are often steel string, with silk and steel steel strings.

Sadly I saw one...and the bozo had steel strings, he insisted the pin bridge meant for steel, yet it was an early ice cream cone heel Martin...and, gorgeous, stupid 3 chord hipster rocker, ruined it. In fact he said his dad used to play flamenco on it...sigh.

No you can't really get a romantic body guitar for gut/nylon under 1,000-2000$. They look the same but are braced different.

I think the Washburn/Oscar Schmidt are in the later transition period to steel strings.

Now if you feel crafty, you could potentially get an old beat up Washburn, pop the back off and re-brace it...then re-set the neck, but after all that work, unless you do it yourself would cost as much as just buying a romantic guitar.

If you can DYI, then it might be possible that John at Blues Creek guitars could build you a kit, provided you do your homework. I know it will cost more than his standard guitars. John specializes in Martin kits, he might even be able to sell you an off the shelf kit that could be re-braced in the early martin style, minus the Stauffer mechanics..Worth a shot.

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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by tateharmann » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:06 am

I do feel pretty handy with guitars and woodworking so I'm not too worried about it. And FYI steel strings weren't even popular until the 20th century so these late 1800's parlors would have been strung in gut which is what I'm planning to do...and occasionally string it up with silk and steel and get my blues on :) I'm looking for a ladder braced instrument anyways :)
Last edited by tateharmann on Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by tateharmann » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:18 am

Marshall Dixon wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:06 am
Another name that occurred to me is Oscar Schmidt. I read a book by Neil Harpe; The Stella Guitar Book, but I don't recall any reference to gut stringed instruments. When I looked up Oscar Schmidt just now it led me to (comercial site) "C Bruno guitar by Oscar Schmidt" and it appears that C Bruno was making or marketing guitars in the 1880's also and there were others for sale. Hard to know if they were originally meant for gut or steel. They all seem to be strung up with silk and steel now.
Thanks I'll check that out too!
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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by tateharmann » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:17 pm

I found another in my searching: Weymann and Son's from Philadelphia. Check out this beauty: https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/2014/ ... arlor.html
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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by Marshall Dixon » Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:39 pm

What a beauty and it even has nylgut strings.

Here is some interesting history about Ashborn, in case you missed it. http://www.americanantiquarian.org/proc ... 574400.pdf

Neil Harpe, The author I mentioned above, by is a luthier. I emailed him and asked whether the Oscar Schmidt company made gut string instruments. I'll keep you posted.

PS - Mr Harpe wrote me that he was unaware of any gut string guitars made by them.

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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by chiral3 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:23 pm

Carl Holzapfel and Clemence Beitel. They were Martin-style parlors usually outfitted with nylon.
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Re: Turn of last century Martin North American Contemporaries

Post by tateharmann » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:23 pm

Excellent, thanks for the tips, folks!
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