Designed by Folkway’s Mark Stutman and released as a 24 guitar limited production model, the 0002H Custom Traditional is Collings’ first Traditional Series 12-fret 000, and an exact recreation of the guitar Mark spec’d for 3-time Grammy winner Joe Henry.
Check out our listing for the right-handed version here.
Check out our listing for the left-handed version here.
Join Fretboard Journal‘s Jason Verlinde and acclaimed luthiers TJ Thompson (Pro Luthier Tools) and Mark Stutman (Folkway Music) for this informative class on the care, feeding and collecting of vintage acoustic guitars.
Over the course of this discussion, Mark and TJ will discuss variations between pre-war and collectible Martins and Gibsons, some of the most common issues they find on their repair benches and how to avoid them. We’ll talk about restoration work, neck resets, proper storage and shipping. At the end of the class, we’ll field questions from the audience on the buying, selling and preserving of these unique instruments.
Here’s the 1940s Regal X brace conversion that I finished up earlier this winter. I’ve finally managed to convince my daughter to let me take it back!
The guitar started as a ladder-braced instrument with Regal’s ‘Small Jumbo’ body that measures 15.5″ at the lower bout and has a fairly deep body depth. It’s a good-looking guitar but needed much repair to its original bracing, bridgeplate, bridge, and top, so was a good candidate for an x-brace conversion experiment.
The guitar’s neck and top and were pulled and all the top’s braces were removed. The top was originally about 1/8″ thick, so I opted to thin it to more of an early 30’s spec, and ended up at about .105″. After gluing a few top cracks, loose sections of back braces, and a couple of back and side cracks, I carved away all the excess back brace spruce to open up the back’s tone.
The top was braced similarly to a ’31 Martin OM, complete with early 30’s shaped scalloped Sitka braces and tiny stiff maple bridge plate. Some modifications were made to the layout to accommodate the guitar’s 000 scale length of 24.9″.
The top was reinstalled with its original binding and without any finish repair or touch-up. The bridge is a 1930’s proportioned small rectangle with through-cut bone saddle, 2-1/4″ string spacing and Antique Acoustic unslotted style 28 pins.
The frets and nut are new, and the guitar plays easily. The original Kluson tuners work well and are fitted with new Antique Acoustic buttons.
The guitar has a lightly-built tone, with lovely openness and warmth in its bases, strong and clean mid-range and trebles that are well balanced. The overall voice is something of a J-45 meets 000-18 and is quite unique among the vintage instruments that we have in stock. The neck has a round, chunky, almost-Banner-Gibson feel, with a 12″ fretboard radius, rolled edges, and a 1-3/4″ nut.
In the end, I discovered that converting ladder braced guitars to X braced guitars is something I won’t do with any regularity, as attending to the details the way I’ve become accustomed to in vintage instrument restoration is simply too cost-prohibitive. As a hobby, sure, it’s a great way to spend one’s time – but as a job, doing a conversion with the care and attention to detail that a pretty old guitar like this deserves is simply not a viable way to make a living! Still, this was a fun and worthwhile undertaking, and certainly a great distraction from the wintertime Covid blues!
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Mark offers some thoughts on cracks in the tops of vintage guitars. You’ll learn why they happen, which ones are more concerning than others, how to spot them, and what to do about them.
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Nightshift guitar repair going on here with a 1933 Martin R-18 on the bench – the little sibling of Martin’s C-1 archtop.
Unlike the carved C-1, the R-18 has a pressed top that is just a bit thicker than a normal flattop top and features a beefed up X flattop style X bracing, complete with a little maple bridgeplate.
It is interesting to compare this model with Gibson’s flattop guitars that featured trapeze tailpieces and archtop-style bridges at around the same time.
Both Martin and Gibson were trying out bold new ideas in the early days of steel string guitar-making in the late 20’s and early 30’s.