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Grandpas Guitar. To play or not to play


JohnnyReb

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Well grandpas old guitar is nothing more than a wall hanger in my living room. It was bought by my grandpa in the late 30"s for a uncle of mine. He left for the Navy in 42 and left it home so grandpa just kept it. This ole axe has seen some hard times. It's survived a old shack with no electricity all the way up to the 1980s when my aunt rescued it. Wood heat only, no ac, wood cook stove.......can you believe it survived all that time????

 

Anyway my aunt gifted to me a few years ago because I'm grandpas youngest grandchild of 50 grand kids. It is a great treasure of mine because he died in 1965 long before I was born. He woulda been 112 years old today if still alive. So this old guitar is as close as I'll ever get to him.

 

The only damage the guitar has is a crack across the back. I have tuned it to pitch a few times and played it. The action is like tryin to play a dobro with your fingers. The nut seems to be coming loose. Other than that the thing is intact. I've been thinking about having it restored by a guy in Nashville but I want to keep it as close to original as possible. I wouldn't care about doing this if the dang thing didn't sound so good! You would be surprised about the tone of this little thing. Kinda reminds me of the Willie Nelson sound, although willies guitar is far superior.

 

What u guys think. Are these old things worth fixing up? I think it's a Stella harmony or something of the sort. I don't even know if the wood is real or not. Appears to be anyway.

 

5d57ecde.jpg

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I am a little confused at the question, and the responces.

 

Before you would decide what to do, you would have to know WHAT it might need or not need, and what the consequences of stringing/playing it might be.

 

It could be the case that it is structurally sound and only needs some minor things done, or perhaps could use some help to PRESERVE and keep it in good shape. Or, maybe it needs to much work to make restoring to playing condition worthwhile.

 

Get an assesment. THEN decide.

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Very Cool!

 

Stained or painted fingerboard, floating bridge (which is a good thing when it comes to the necks), looks to be all birch. Pretty typical features for a guitar built in the later 1920s and 1930s.

 

It is actually not surprising that it survived. Thousands of those pre-War el cheapo, mail order guitars are still with us and are being played today. One of my favorite guitars is a 1930s Kay Kraft which I play regularly. What I would do is not to sweat the costmetics but do what it takes to get the guitar in the best playing condition possible and then have a blast with it.

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I don't know the particular circumstanes revolving around this guitar, but if I had an old, old guitar that a relative had owned, I'd probably take it to a good repairman and have it put in the best playing condition. I wouldn't change the appearance (finish, scracthes, dings), but I would fix any structural problems, because I'd very likely want to play something with that much personal history tied to it. I'd leave all the battle scares, but make the heart better. From my view, what good is that guitar going to do me hanging on the wall. The pull of the strings will gradually make structural problems worse. I'd fix those problems and make the guitar as playable as possible and then I'd sing songs that mean something to me and let the guitar tell it's story.........It's remarkable to think about how well that guitar has held together. Good Lord, what kind of glue did they use back then?...lol.....My opinion doesn't mean I'm right, but I'd want to play the guitar. I couldn't leave it hanging there. Too many stories are in it. [thumbup]

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What I would do is not to sweat the costmetics but do what it takes to get the guitar in the best playing condition possible and then have a blast with it.

 

I'm in agreement with this statement. Guitars are made to make music, and if a reasonable investment would make this guitar playable, I would consider it. For this guitar to be played is a far more honorable tribute to your ancestors than to be hanging on a wall.

 

There is also a residual benefit. For this guitar to be playable it must be structurally sound. If it is structurally sound it will continue to "survive".

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Take it to a luthier and get an opinion. Glue a brace or two, stabilize a crack or two, might not cost too much and be fun to have grandad's guitar playable. But skilled labor is expensive, and if it needs a neck reset and the frets are awful in addition to tons of braces/cracks etc etc there comes a point where you have to evaluate: is the final repaired product going to be worthy of this expense? If not leave it on the wall. Typically for something made of wood like birch, possibly plywood, you are going to reach that tipping point price tag fairly quickly. $100? $200? If it's a nice old vintage Gibson or something the number could go way up.

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The feelings here lean toward fixing it enough to play and enjoying the fact that it was your grand dad's ..... I have my granddad's last car ('50 Chevy) sitting in my garage ... runs sometimes but not lately. I smile every time I see it.

 

 

 

Great story ... thanks for posting.[thumbup]

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Hey y'all thanks for the replies

 

Actually the guitar is playable now. I have tuned it up on a few occasions and played it. The action is just really high and you have to have iron fingers for it. I'm fairly convinced it is structurally sound. It never creaks or gives any sighn of weakness. The crack is on the back in the center and seems to have shrunk some since I've acquired it. If the action could be fixed to a playable position I don't think it would need a thing. Of course the intonation is way off and it doesn't fret well. But I can manage to strum a few chords and pick out a few simple melodies on it.

 

I reckon I've decided to have it checked out and see what needs to be done to make it more playable. I'm fairly content with it hanging on the wall....but I also have a strong desire to play it. I agree with you guys about the cosmetics too. I love the way it looks. My concern is that the neck is bowed and the reason for the high wire action. Prob a re fret too. But yea I'm convinced that it deserves to be played. It's to well preserved to neglect only because of action issues. I think she's structurally ready to rock.

 

Mr j200 koa......I got a 1953 Farmall tractor in the barn AND I mow my grass with it [thumbup]

 

a65ced60.jpg

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Hey y'all thanks for the replies

 

Actually the guitar is playable now. I have tuned it up on a few occasions and played it. The action is just really high and you have to have iron fingers for it. I'm fairly convinced it is structurally sound. It never creaks or gives any sighn of weakness. The crack is on the back in the center and seems to have shrunk some since I've acquired it. If the action could be fixed to a playable position I don't think it would need a thing. Of course the intonation is way off and it doesn't fret well. But I can manage to strum a few chords and pick out a few simple melodies on it.

 

I reckon I've decided to have it checked out and see what needs to be done to make it more playable. I'm fairly content with it hanging on the wall....but I also have a strong desire to play it. I agree with you guys about the cosmetics too. I love the way it looks. My concern is that the neck is bowed and the reason for the high wire action. Prob a re fret too. But yea I'm convinced that it deserves to be played. It's to well preserved to neglect only because of action issues. I think she's structurally ready to rock.

 

Mr j200 koa......I got a 1953 Farmall tractor in the barn AND I mow my grass with it [thumbup]

 

a65ced60.jpg

 

 

A little Farmall similar to that (a Cub, actually) is the first vehicle I ever drove, sitting on my grandfather's lap in about 1952. Almost drove it into the ditch, as it didn't occur to me that you were actually supposed to turn the wheel. Hadn't thought of that moment until I saw this picture. Thanks for the memory boost.

 

When my parents moved back to the family farm in 1966, that little tractor was still parked in the barn. Tractors last forever. Memories often don't.

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MR nick we share that in common then [biggrin] my dads Farmall cub was my first drive too. It's a memory that's never left my mind. So when I needed a new lawn mower I bought this 53 Super A which is the next biggest from the cub. I mow my 4 acre yard with it every week and it will lay stripes like them fancy zero turn jobs. It's a real pleasure to drive and mow with it. Time machine I guess u could say.

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