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Thread: illegible parlor guitar label

  1. #1
    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default illegible parlor guitar label

    I know several good folks here dabble in guitars too. I was given a project parlor guitar a while back. Nothing special but I'd like to know what make it is. Has anyone seen a label that may resemble whats left of this one?Click image for larger version. 

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    David: it might help in narrowing it down if you posted a full shot back and front and one of the headstock and some other details.
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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    It looks like Emmaus but I don't find that name in guitar brand/maker searches.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Cincinnatus was a Wurlitzer brand name. Here's one on Jake Wildwood's page with an intact label.

    Here's another picture of the label.
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    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Feb-09-2019 at 10:19am.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Cincinnatus was a Wurlitzer brand name. Here's one on Jake Wildwood's page with an intact label.

    Here's another picture of the label.
    Nice work Mike!
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Quote Originally Posted by jim simpson View Post
    Nice work Mike!
    God bless Michael Holmes may he Rest In Peace. His contribution to the history of fretted instrument makers is so valuable.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Thanks Mike and Jim and Jim. Not sure if I'll get to it or pass it on to an aspiring new luthier. It's nice to know what make it is. The previous owner tried to convert from ladder to X bracing. It's quite a mess. It may sing again though.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Nice detective work, Mike!
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    I see that there are many Cincinnatus guitars online attributed to CF Martin. We might have a Larson-like situation here. The ones I see don't look at all like Martins to me. There is a page or two in the Johnson-Boak 2 volume Martin books but that one does not resemble the Cincinnatus ones I see. I would guess that Cincinnatus was a budget brand.
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I see that there are many Cincinnatus guitars online attributed to CF Martin. We might have a Larson-like situation here. The ones I see don't look at all like Martins to me. There is a page or two in the Johnson-Boak 2 volume Martin books but that one does not resemble the Cincinnatus ones I see. I would guess that Cincinnatus was a budget brand.
    None that I've seen (and that isn't many, all pictures) were Martin products. I do know that when I was trading in these old parlor guitars that everyone thought they had a Martin. That doesn't surprise me. All of the Wurlitzer Martin's I held had Martin stamped inside. I'm pretty sure that was common.

    I do wish I'd bought the last Wurlitzer Martin I played many years ago at Gruhn.
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Martin made a few hundred guitars and ukes for Wurlitzer in the early 1920's. They were built on standard Martin patterns, and except for a few minor differences in trim, look like standard Martins. They had a Wurlitzer brand stamped into the wood, usually on the back of the head, and some also had the stamped Martin brand.

    Any references to Cincinnatus guitars made by Martin are a result of someone engaging in wishful thinking, not doing their homework, or perhaps even intentionally posting inaccurate information for profit; thus spreading misinformation on the web. We see this often on forums-- people take a few lines of information out of context, and then re-write it from their own point of view and post it. I've just looked at photos of 15 Cincinnatus guitars posted on the web, and not one of them was made by Martin, although the posters often say otherwise.

    Wurlitzer sold instruments made by a number of manufacturers. Martin only supplied instruments to Wurlitzer for a short time, and not in large numbers. If it does not look very much like a Martin, it was not made by Martin.

    Here's a Wurlitzer that was made by Martin: http://guitars.com/archived-inventor...28/AB4231.html
    Last edited by rcc56; Feb-09-2019 at 11:07pm.

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  17. #12
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Any references to Cincinnatus guitars made by Martin are a result of someone engaging in wishful thinking or not doing their homework, and then spreading misinformation on the web.
    Most likely because having a hundred dollar parlor made by L&H isn't nearly as exciting as owning a thousand dollar plus guitar made by Martin. Yeah, it's wishful thinking.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    I had a 00-18 through my shop that was a martin for Wurlitzer and it did have both Wurlitzer and the Martin Nazareth Penn stamped in the back of the peghead. It was in terrible shape but I did use it foe my 00 12 fret form that I still use. I would venture to say that the parlor I have was definitely not made by Martin.
    I may try to post some pictures . Sure wished it looked like the Washburn parlor in the other thread.

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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Look at the guitar in the Jake Wildwood link above. Does it look like that only rougher?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Here's a catalog page from 1901 of the Cincinnatus line at that time.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    The dot on the 10th fret points to Harmony as the possible manufacturer of these.

    http://solie.org/harmonyhist.htm
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
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    Flat-top guitars with floating bridges and tailpieces are an interesting development in themselves, especially in the early 20th century. Wonder if it's a mandolin influence? I associate the floating bridge and tailpiece with arch-top guitars, though Gibson's early carved-tops apparently had pin bridges. All the pics of 19th-century instruments I looked up, had either pin or tie bridges, and to see a line of inexpensive flat-tops (I'm assuming from the catalog drawings that they're flat-tops) with tailpieces and floating bridges surprised me.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Flat-top guitars with floating bridges and tailpieces are an interesting development in themselves, especially in the early 20th century. Wonder if it's a mandolin influence? I associate the floating bridge and tailpiece with arch-top guitars, though Gibson's early carved-tops apparently had pin bridges. All the pics of 19th-century instruments I looked up, had either pin or tie bridges, and to see a line of inexpensive flat-tops (I'm assuming from the catalog drawings that they're flat-tops) with tailpieces and floating bridges surprised me.
    I think it makes a lot of sense with budget lines. Otherwise, the tendency is for the bridge to fly off. Yes, there was 19th century guitars with that configuration. The one that comes to mind is the Tilton guitars. Here is one (below). The last shows the patented Tilton Improvement, a metal disk that floated in the soundhole:

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    There were also Shutt guitars:
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    I'm guessing it was cheaper to build with the floating bridge than to accurately place and install the pin bridge. My first thought was that pin bridges may have come at a much later time but apparently Martin was already using them in the 1820's.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    In Tom & Mary Anne Evans' book Guitars (c. 1977, Paddington Press, London), there's a pin-bridge guitar attributed to Francois Lupot of Orleans, France, c. 1773 (page 46).
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    Earlier today when I looked for this I found a reference to one from 1698 I think but I can't find the reference now. Suffice to say they've been around a long time. Harmony was actually placing the dots on the fingerboard to mimic the mandolin. Maybe the floating bridge was similar as you said. I tend to think it was simply part of making it cheaper but who knows. I have seen parlor guitars with failed bridges where they put a tailpiece on them a long long time ago to affect a repair.
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    Registered User Jake Wildwood Too's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    I haven't posted in forever (it's not personal, I love MC and miss it, but am too busy most of the time) -- but saw that there was some traffic heading to my blog and followed the breadcrumbs -- so here's the skinny on parlor guitars from the 1880s-1920s...

    Those ARE flattops with tailpieces in the catalog. They were incredibly common from 1890-1920 in that format. They're very lightly-built and are identical in build to the pin-bridge versions (pretty much) save that they often have slightly thicker necks and, of course, the tailpiece load.

    These tailpieced versions were intended for steel strings and I've had a number of them through the shop with those early, coiled-up "ball-end" strings still attached. By tailpiecing it, they could basically build the same guitar for either gut or steel and just change the "end-process" of the build to suit.

    The pin-bridge versions were intended for gut (modern: nylon, nylgut, rope core classical-style) strings as they had been since the modern guitar hybridized to its general form in the early 1800s.

    This is basically true across manufacturers all the way through the early '20s. In fact, using steel strings on Washburn guitars with pin bridges prior to (1923, I think? 1925?) voided the warranty on the instrument. It's written right on the labels. Martin was gut-centric right until the mid-20s, too, and most of their guitars can't truly take steel (without significant soundboard warp) until 1930 -- and even in 1930 it's questionable, hah hah, from the examples I've had through. Martin had a transition period where string sets were suggested as 3-wound-on-gut, 3-plain steel or 4-wound-on-gut, 2-plain-steel (can't recall) when they were changing emphasis c.1925-1930. I believe that's right from a catalog, too but, oh man, I wish I could locate which one. Maybe some forum member will smack me down on this account!!

    Yes, the tailpiece design is borrowed from mandolin and banjo influences from the mid-1800s, whereas the pin/glued bridge was borrowed all the way back to early guitars, lutes, and whatnot.

    The one aberrant example of this steel/gut dichotomy are the mentioned Tilton guitars (I have a nice one upstairs) which were tailpieced but intended for GUT. They're built excruciatingly-light to accommodate gut tension and if you put steel on them you're basically dooming them. The exception to this rule of lightness are in the late 1890s Tiltons where the more budget-minded models get stiffer tops and can take something like 46w-10 steel OK, but they were not designed for it intentionally.

    So, there you are. This is my take on it from having examined tons of these old parlors in person and also reading through article-by-article in old adverts/publishing texts years ago. There are always exceptions to this general rule of thumb (especially when it comes to cheap catalog guitars like Schmidts which seemed well-suited to steel right from the get-go), but I'm pretty sure this is how the makers saw their instruments when they were building them.

    Now back to hack-n-slashing instruments...

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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    I have recently done a couple of old parlor guitars, ladder braced. One with a tailpiece, one pin bridge. Neither like very light steel strings very well, but by tuning the very light steel strings a full step lower both guitars played easy, were very resonant and sounded great. Getting a light set of strings and lowering the tension by tuning down works well with these old ladder braced guitars. If you want to play with someone capo on the second fret. It's easier to sing some songs a step lower too, been enjoying it.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    I have a no-name, X-braced parlor guitar with a pin bridge that several people have estimated to be c. 1860. I have used silk-and-steel XL strings on it since I obtained it 30 or so years ago, as an instrument usable for historical programs I do.

    However, I take the string tension down to "floppy" and leave it there whenever I'm not actually playing it. I know it was built for gut strings (and I'd love to know who was copying C F Martin's bracing pattern back around the Civil War), but so far it's taken the sporadic extra tension of the silk-and-steels without any damage.

    It's a gutsy little instrument; I had a replica "pyramid" bridge installed after I purchased it for $50; the old bridge was missing, but the holes in the top testified to the fact that it was a pin bridge.
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    Default Re: illegible parlor guitar label

    I think that is a good approach, Allen. Just tune to pitch when needed, then slack off. aka the "bow and arrow" principle!

    Some of us will remember in the 60's, 12-string acoustics were recommended to be tuned to C# and capoed for standard. Most of those old 12 strings were "over-tuned" as time went on. Also, even before that, a lot of the Leadbelly-era stuff took advantage of the lower tuning and the resulting overtones, droning, distortion, etc. -- used to good effect, IMHO.

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