S. Nathaniel Adams

Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

Home Top Ad

The Search for Economical Nut Files I'm going to preface this by saying I'm cheap. At the moment I am balancing college, two part-ti...

The Search for Economical Nut Files

I'm going to preface this by saying I'm cheap. At the moment I am balancing college, two part-time jobs, and this hobby so I'm always looking for a way to save a buck that could be used to buy gas (or more accurately) the next cool guitar. This is probably one of the biggest hurdles that people face when they try to get into guitar work (I know I did) and is the subject of thousands of forum threads. I have no ties to any of these products, I just enjoy making lists.

A properly cut nut from bone or synthetic is essential for tuning ease and stability and seems like a fairly straight forward process but is actually really involved. I've made at least a hundred nuts in the past few years and I'm only now getting to the point where they look like someone knew what they were doing when they made it. Part of that is having the right file. 

This is the ideal file pattern.
Rounded, toothed edges with safe sides
Image Credit: Grobet USA Catalog


Old Guitar Strings



This comes up frequently when the topic of economical nut files is discussed and is probably the most accessible solution. I've seen strings rigged into coping saws and glued into blocks of wood. You save money but you'll end up spending a lot of time devising your string holder, cleaning the debris from the strings, and slowly filing.

Just buy the welding torch tip cleaners... They'll perform similarly and you'll waste less time since you won't have to make a tool.

Welding Torch Tip Cleaners

These are hot garbage and I used them for at least half a dozen nuts when I first began working on guitars. The super cheap price is alluring but you learn quickly why these have not been adopted by professionals. These are designed to dislodge debris inside a welding torch nozzle so they're not exactly profiled to make deep cuts. In my experience I found them to cut very slowly (similar to a guitar string), clog frequently, and be prone to breaking.

The best way I found to use them was to use a saw to start your lines, a triangle or "knife" file to open up the slot to get near your desired depth, and then use these to finalize and round the bottom of the slots. It was inefficient and ugly. I would also highly recommend investing in a set of calipers or a micrometer to double check that each cleaner is the proper diameter.


Welding torch tip cleaners 
Image Credit: Amazon

Aliexpress Special


I was debating purchasing these and reviewing them but they appeared to be mediocre at best from the listing. The edges of the file are square so you'll have to come in with either a diamond bead reamer or a welding tip torch to round the bottom of the slot. Also the files have a triangular cutting profile which isn't great for nut slots as the strings will bind if you don't round it out. 

As for the quality of some Chinese files,  I purchased a copy of the Dragon rasp from AliExpress and I definitely got what I paid for. It was made of unhardened steel (you can bend the rasp at a 90 degree angle and it won't snap) and the steel was wavy down the length so it wouldn't be good for anything you want to be straight or level. 

Cost: $15 after shipping

Retailer: AliExpress

Sizes Available:
  • 1-6, I guess?

Notched Feeler Gauges

My first attempt was making slotting files for
acoustic guitar bridges. They turned out okay.

Feeler gauges come recommended as the cheapest way to get a set of nut files but they are a DIY project. If you have plenty of time and not a lot of money then I would recommend sitting down and making these. You will need a couple tools, however, and a bit of skill with them.

I used a set of old automotive feeler gauges and a Dremel with a No.409 cut off wheel to grind my notches. For those who do not have a cutting tool then you can use a triangle file or a knife edge file given that the metal has not been hardened (if your file cuts the metal, you're golden. If it 'skates' off then you need to use a grinding wheel). As you can see by my crude teeth, I was experimenting with different ways of cutting teeth into the steel and settled on an alternating pattern of notches that are heavier on the left and right sides. It works great for slotting bridges but is prone to chipping when I tried to use them on bone.

To make them easier to hold I cut a notch into some figured maple and epoxied the files into them. The handles are quaint but they are more friendly than the bare metal

Things I learned
  • Use a quality set of feeler gauges, somewhere between $10 and $25. No stainless steel
  • You will have to round over the edges of your gauges, I opted to 'rock' them back and forth on a belt sander.
  • The closer together your teeth are, the better the file will perform
  • Don't cut an L shape into the file like I did, I honestly have no idea what my end goal was there

Hiroshima Uo-Chikyu Files



Image Credit: Grizzly.com

Hiroshima Files is a Japanese-based manufacturer of abrasive tools and appear to be the OEM for some StewMac and Hosco products. They have the largest selection of individual files that I can find and they also provide a couple different sets at a slight discount. The full selection is only available from a Japanese distributor but Grizzly sells a nice set and a few extras and I'm sure there are some other US distributors out there

Cost: $9 - $13 each 

Retailer: PlazaJapan.com (JP), JaParts (CA) or Grizzly.com (USA) for a more limited selection

Sizes Available:
  • 0.009"
  • 0.010"
  • 0.011"
  • 0.012"
  • 0.013"
  • 0.016"
  • 0.017"
  • 0.024"
  • 0.026"
  • 0.032"
  • 0.036"
  • 0.040"
  • 0.042"
  • 0.045"
  • 0.046"
  • 0.050"
  • 0.053"
  • 0.054"
  • 0.056"
  • 0.065"
  • 0.080"
  • 0.085"
  • 0.100"
  • 0.105"
  • 0.135"
 

Hosco Edge Cut File


Cost: $13-$19 each

Retailer: You can find from on Ebay or in a set of 10 for $109 from Philadelphia Luthier Tools

Sizes Available:
  • 0.010"
  • 0.013"
  • 0.016"
  • 0.024"
  • 0.028"
  • 0.032"
  • 0.036"
  • 0.042"
  • 0.046"
  • 0.056"

Music Nomad Diamond Nut Files

These are the newest files on the market at the time of writing and definitely the cheapest diamond nut files available. I have yet to try them out but I will certainly report back once I do

Cost: $16.99 each

Retailer: Any MusicNomad retailer but currently zZounds.com was the only website I found

Sizes Available:
  • 0.010"
  • 0.013"
  • 0.016"
  • 0.020"
  • 0.024"
  • 0.028"
  • 0.032"
  • 0.036"
  • 0.042"
  • 0.046"
  • 0.050"
  • 0.056"
  • 0.065"
  • 0.085"
  • 0.105"
  • 0.130"

This will be a list of information about music stores that used to exist in St Louis, Missouri and the surrounding areas. I will attempt to ...

This will be a list of information about music stores that used to exist in St Louis, Missouri and the surrounding areas. I will attempt to list the dates that the stores were in operation but will indicate with a question mark when I'm uncertain about the exact date of demise. 

Alton, Illinois

  • Acord Music Shop (1952 - 1969) [1][2]
    • Located at 7 W Ferguson Ave, Wood River, IL 
    • Owned by Ozzie Acord and his wife Mabel.
    • Carried stringed instruments as well as band instruments and some accessories for both
  • Community Music Center (1953 - 1960s - ?) 
    • Sold sheet music, records, and band and orchestra instruments
  • Davis Music Company (? - 1932 - 1945)
    • Located at 412 East Broadway
    • Owned by Newton and Katharine Boggess [6]
    • Sold to the Gould Music Company after Newton's death [5]
  • Gould Music Company (? - 1961) 
    • Owned by Ralph Gould
    • Purchased by Clem and Juanita Halpin in 1961 and merged into Halpin Music Co.
    • Sold musical instruments, sheet music, records, and accessories
    • Also had a small instrument repair shop that did minor repairs
  • Harszy Music Repair Shop (? - 1960s through 70s - ?)

  • Kiesselhorst Music Store (?)
    • Maybe related to the St Louis piano company of the same name?
  • Peters Music Store / Peters Gift Shop (?)

  • Plummer-Kramer Music Company (? - 1920s through 50s - ?) 
    • Owned by Bert Plummer
    • Called the "oldest of the music services organizations in the community" in 1954
    • Stocked sheet music, band and orchestra instruments, and outsourced their repairs
  • Royal School of Music (?)
    • Primarily sold guitars and accordions and organized accordion bands
    • Carried accessories and sheet music but not orchestra or band instruments
    • Taught lessons in their establishment as well as in conjunction with other area shops
  • Williams Music Store (? - 1920s - ?)

East St Louis, Illinois

St Louis, Missouri

Sources

[1] http://scholars.indstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10484/5029/isua-thesis-1954-mccormick.pdf?sequence=2
[2] https://www.riverbender.com/obits/details/mabel-c-acord-alton-obituary-6008.cfm
[3] https://www.advantagenews.com/news/educational-edifice/article_14256557-b682-568d-bbad-b28f63b27c1f.html
[4] https://www.newspapers.com/image/17211248/?terms=%22community%20music%20center%22&match=1
[5] https://www.newspapers.com/image/17144830/?terms=davis%20music&match=1
[6] https://www.newspapers.com/image/26096193/?terms=davis%20music&match=1

 Hosting the informative photos I put together

 Hosting the informative photos I put together


  Administration John T Higgins [1] Jay Kraus [3] A. A. Anderson Charles A Rubovitz Joe Graser Robert Putter In 1940 the company announced t...

 

Administration

John T Higgins [1]

Jay Kraus [3]

A. A. Anderson
Charles A Rubovitz
Joe Graser
Robert Putter







In 1940 the company announced that it would cease production and began searching for a purchaser [4]. In 1941, Jay Kraus, the president, purchased the company and moved the factory from 1738-54 North Lawndale Avenue to 3631-3633 South Racine Avenue [3].
  • President: 
    • William J. T. Schultz [5]
    • (1930s-1940) Jay Kraus [2]
    • (1941-?) John T Higgins [1]
  • Vice President:
    • (?-1925) J. R. Stewart [5]
    • (1925-1930s) Jay Kraus [5]
  • Secretary
    • L. M. Viner [5]
  • Credit Manager: A. A. Anderson c.1940 [1]
  • Merchandising, Designing, and Sales: Charles "Chuck" A Rubovitz  c.1940 [1]
  • Head of Factory Operations: Joe Graser c.1940 [1]
  • New York representative and head of Eastern sales: Robert Putter c.1940 [1]

Staff




Sources

[1] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1940-2293/33/
[2] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1939-2291/19/
[3] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1941-2298/31/
[4] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1940-2297/29/
[5] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1925-80-16/39/

 

 Franz Schwarzer Zithers and Stringed Instruments Franz Schwarzer Image Credit: Zither.us I won't reiterate what has already been writte...

 Franz Schwarzer Zithers and Stringed Instruments

Franz Schwarzer
Image Credit: Zither.us

I won't reiterate what has already been written about Franz Schwarzer and his company, as there are more much knowledgeable resources who have done it better, but I will try to expand on what is already known. If you do own a Schwarzer instrument, contact me and I'll get you as much information as I can and may even buy it. I live in St Louis, Missouri and love all history relating to my state.

1930 Washington Citizen article [8]

I recently shelled out the cash to purchase high quality scans of the original Schwarzer factory log books and now can date most Schwarzer instruments via their serial number down to the month (sometimes even day) and provide the name of the original purchaser. 

"To say that a zither is a guitar on which a fat man sat and then fastened the neck at the side instead of where it belonged would be resented here" [8]

Operation of the Factory

At its peak, the Schwarzer factory employed 25 men in the business and construction of instruments [9]. The factory was described as feeling like an "ordinary cabinet making shop" but with zithers, violins, guitars, and other stringed instruments hanging on the walls and on workbenches in various states of construction. Even through the 1930s the instruments were still produced primarily by hand as the employees, and some discerning players, believed that machinery was counterintuitive to making a proper zither [8]. 

Despite the association with zithers, the Schwarzer factory also produced guitars, harp guitars, violins, and mandolins in any configuration that the customer desired. There are also records in the log books of "heart shaped" violins being produced. Interest in zithers began to wane in the early 20th century and the logs reflect that with a small increase in non-zither instruments being manufactured. 

Advertising the expanse of where Schwarzer instruments could be shipped, a 1926 newspaper article notes that zithers had been sent, via submarine, to Chile and sent through Alaska via dog sled [6]. In 1938, the factory was eager to demonstrate the efficiency of transporting zither strings across the country via air mail [7].

Albert A. Hesse and A. W. Schepp were in charge of designing the instruments after Franz's passing [6].

Serial Numbers

Excerpt from the log book

I have indicated the first serial number for each year or the earliest known serial number by date
Email me with your serial number and I can give you more detailed information including limited info on any factory repairs
  • July 1885 - #2001
  • 1886 - #2154
  • 1887 - #2422
  • 1888 - #2710
  • 1889 - #3035
  • 1890 - #3395
  • 1891 - #3855
  • 1892 - #4354
  • 1893 - #4950
  • 1894 - #5556
  • 1895 - #6098
  • 1896 - #6541
  • 1897 - #6901
  • 1898 - #7241
  • 1899 - #7533
  • 1900 - #7732
  • 1901 - #8022
  • 1902 - #8311
  • 1903 - #8518
  • 1904 - #8732 - February, Death of Franz Schwarzer, his wife takes over
  • 1905 - #9002
  • 1906 - #9160
  • 1907 - #9319
  • 1908 - #9463
  • 1909 - #9586
  • 1910 - #9717
  • 1911 - #9822
  • 1912 - #9932 - Death of Mrs. Schwarzer, nephew Herman Grohe takes over
  • 1913 - #10044
  • 1914 - #10138
  • 1915 - #10197
  • 1916 - #10242
  • 1917 - #10304
  • 1918 - #10358
  • 1919 - #10426
  • 1920 - #10500
  • 1921 - #10556
  • 1922 - #10599
  • 1923 - #10622
  • 1924 - #10655 - Death of Grohe, veteran worker Albert Hesse takes over
  • 1925 - #10678
  • 1926 - #10706
  • 1927-1935 - Production hits rock bottom and the log book becomes increasingly more erratic. Grohe's widow ceases operations at the factory in 1933 but a handful of instruments are still produced
  • October 1936 - #10826
  • 1937 - #10829
  • 1938 - #10836
  • 1939 - #10842
  • 1940 - #10845
  • 1941 - #10848
  • 1943 - #10849
  • 1945 - #10850
  • 1946 - #10851, 10852, and 10853 were the only instruments produced
  • 1951 - #10854
  • October 20th, 1951 - #10855 The final instrument in the books, a 32 string concert zither for Carolyn Johnson
  • 1953 - Factory is scheduled to be demolished. [2]
    • May 2nd, 1953 was to be the date of the auction for the contents of the factory including tools, clamps, wood, fixtures, workbenches, antiques and souvenirs, and the remaining instrument stock [5]

String Winding Machine

According to a 1956 issue of the Washington Citizen newspaper, employee Albert Hesse had been winding the strings for the Schwarzer zithers since at least 1912 on a pedal operated machine. After the factory was shuttered, he moved the winding machine to his home and continued to produce strings for zither players and perform repairs on Schwarzer instruments. According to articles I can find, he was the last living employee of the factory. He passed away in the early 1950s and his wife began selling off his tools.

In comes Alberta Krader, a New York born zither player and music teacher. Her family moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania where she continued to make a name for herself as a musician and instructor. She was so important to the popularity of the instrument that she was invited to ride in a zither themed float in the 1939 Washington, Missouri centennial celebration with Hesse. 

1956 Washington Citizen column [3]


Alberta had to opportunity to purchase the Schwarzer string winding contraption from Hesse's widow in the mid 1950s and had it shipped to her residence in Pasadena, California. She had intended to continue to produce zither strings for the community of players and to teach "young handicapped lad" how to operate the machine to carry on Hesse's legacy. She died in 1966 and the fate of the machine is unclear as I do not believe she had any children. 

Sources

[1] https://www.zither.us/schwarzer.zither.king
[2] https://www.newspapers.com/image/126314274/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[3] https://www.newspapers.com/image/137307970/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[4] https://www.zither.us/zitherist.alberta.krader
[5] https://www.newspapers.com/image/126314057/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[6] https://www.newspapers.com/image/94326672/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[7] https://www.newspapers.com/image/94322955/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[8] https://www.newspapers.com/image/94356373/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[9] https://www.newspapers.com/image/92093037/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1













  Elmore James with his Kay K-6000 Image Credit:  www.thehoundblog.blogspot.com The K-6000 Western Rhythm Guitar Image Credit: VintAxe - 195...

 

Elmore James with his Kay K-6000
Image Credit: www.thehoundblog.blogspot.com


The K-6000 Western Rhythm Guitar

Image Credit: VintAxe - 1958 Catalog

The Kay K-6000 is one of the few actually rare Kay guitars (people get confused and incorrectly slap 'rare' on everything they can't immediately find on Google images). It does not appear in the 1956 or 1959 catalogs but only appears in the 1958 Kay/Kessel joint catalog as the only acoustic and only guitar that didn't have any ties to Barney Kessel in its description. Its unclear if this was truly a production model that only lasted a few years or if it was a special run with Kessel and we may never know unless a 1957 or 1958 Kay catalog surfaces. But we can say with certainty that the model didn't last long in the Kay roster, perhaps owing to its steep $175 price tag.

It is also worth mentioning that this was not a "signature" model made for Elmore, as some may claim, it was simply a guitar that he owned and happened to use frequently and publicly

The K-6000 blended two Kay production models, the Kay K-6100 (produced: 1957-1965) dreadnought and the Kay K-27 (produced: 1952-1956; 1957-1965 as the K-8127) jumbo into one unique instrument
  • Maple neck 
    • Large headstock with black celluloid overlay and pearloid inlays (K-27)
    • Ebony fretboard
      • '1-2-1' pattern pearloid dots
    • Kanti-lever truss rod system
    • Nickel frets
    • Kluson "Waffle Back" Tuners
  • Dreadnought body (like the K-6100)
    • Solid Sitka Spruce top
    • Simple, two ring rosette (again, borrowed from the K-6100)
    • Laminate Brazilian Rosewood back and sides
    • Ebony bridge (from the K-27)
    • 15-3/4" wide at the lower bout, 4-1/4" deep

The Look-a-likes

Kay is an enigmatic company, and has been the source of much confusion for years, so it should come as no surprise that there are Kays being advertised as the "Elmore James" model when 

Features from both of these two models were borrowed to make the K-6000 but these guitars by themselves are not what Elmore James would've played.

Kay K-6100 with a refinished headstock
Image Credit: Mine
Kay K-27
Image Credit: Reverb - Bird House Music







 

Elmore's Guitar

Now that we know what his guitar is, we can focus on what makes his guitar unique.

He had his initials set in rhinestones on the bass-side upper bout of the instrument.

The electronics were the biggest contributor to his sound and can be seen best in this picture below. We can see there is a DeArmond RHC-B soundhole pickup mounted incorrectly in the soundhole (its backwards, the sunken pole piece should be under the B string not the A string). 

Below his right hand is the control unit for a DeArmond Rhythm Chief 1000 archtop pickup. It appears that the Rhythm Chief pickup is mounted directly to the soundboard behind the sound hole. Its been brought to my attention that the Rhythm Chief only appeared in this performance so it wasn't a permanent fixture of his instrument.

His guitar also has an archtop tailpiece fastened to it, likely due to a bellying top with the original pinned bridge. That is not an uncommon fix to see on these instruments.

Image Credit: https://www.wirz.de/music/jameselm.htm














1930s Kay Kraft with factory original decals Image Credit:  Mike and Mike's Guitar Bar Decalcomania, commonly known as decals, really pi...

1930s Kay Kraft with factory original decals
Image Credit: Mike and Mike's Guitar Bar

Decalcomania, commonly known as decals, really picked up in popularity with American audiences around the 1920s and 30s. Decals could be added to furniture, food containers, and other objects to help identify them or add some flair to an ordinary item. Guitar manufacturers got into the trend by extensively using decalcomania and stenciled artwork on cheap instruments to make them more appealing to young players. This is most commonly seen with the "cowboy" stencil guitars of the 1940s.

Meyercord Company advertisement c.1902
Image Credit: Music Trade Review

For those who may follow my work regularly, you have probably seen the c.1930 Meyercord catalog that I scanned and uploaded on my website as a reference. I did not find the exact decals that I was searching for in the catalog but I saw some similar styles which was reassuring. From the sheer amount of advertising, I imagine that the Meyercord Company was one of the biggest players in Chicago for decalcomania. I also found evidence in my research to suggest that the American manufacturers were threatened by German decalcomania manufacturers and lobbied to have tariffs placed. So there is always a chance that the exact decals I seek may have come from Germany. 

Whether they were domestic or import, I think I did learn a fair amount from the brief research I put into this

Image Credit: Vintage Blues Guitars
Image Credit: Cream City Music

Decalcomania Manufacturers

  • Brown-Sinramm Co. from New York [Source]
  • U.S. Decalcomania Company (became the Decalcomania Co) [Source] 
  • Palm, Fechteler, & Co [Source]
  • Thomas A. Edison, Inc. [Source]
  • National Decalcomania Corporation in Philadelphia

  • J. W. Beresford & Co. from Birmingham, England [Source]

Decalcomania Importers

Possibly the most common Globe instrument I see 1929 advertisement for the Banjo Ukulele Image Credit:  Music Trade Review 1929 Advertisemen...




Possibly the most common Globe instrument I see
1929 advertisement for the Banjo Ukulele
Image Credit: Music Trade Review
1929 Advertisement 
Image Credit: Music Trade Review

For further information on ukuleles, please consult Lardy's Ukulele Database. It will be worth your while

Company History

The Globe Music Company was a manufacturer of affordable instruments from Chicago. They are not very well known and I suspect many of their instruments are attributed to more familiar manufacturers like Kay or Harmony. Yet Globe was a large enough operation to attend meetings of musical instrument dealers and manufacturers along with big players such as Grover, Harmony, Jackson-Guldan, Vega, Waverly, Regal, etc [3]. They are most known for their ukuleles, especially their banjo ukulele with that wacky headstock (pictured above), but they did produce mandolins and guitars. 

Their instruments were finished in Pyralin which is based on nitrocellulose [6]. Many of them also had celluloid nuts.

1930 Advertisement for stenciled guitars
(Model 520 is pictured)
Image Credit: Music Trade Review

  • 1908 - The factory was located at 162 E. Superior St with 36 employees, all adult males [2]
  • 1914 - The factory was located at 217 W. Superior St with 23 employees [1]
  • 1915 - The factory moves from Chicago (where it had been for 25 years) to St. Charles [7]
  • 1918 - Globe is incorporated in St. Charles with a capitalization of $25,000 [8]
  • 1919 - Globe is in the process of constructing a building in St. Charles, Illinois [12]
  • 1923 - An addition is built onto the factory which doubles the floor space [9]
  • 1926 - Banjo ukuleles are introduced (including the octagonal banjo uke) [5] 
  • 1930 - Harmony, Regal, and Globe banded together to 'stimulate the sale of ukuleles' with the creation of a "vacation special" ukulele retailing at $2.98
  • 1931 - The factory's was located at 103 N 11th St in St Charles, Illinois [11]
  • 1932 - A fire damaged the factory but the loss of property was deemed "not great" [4]
  • 1934 - The Operadio loudspeaker company and Globe seem to move out into each other's factories [10]
1930 Advertisement for the "vacation ukes"
Image Credit: Music Trade Review


1928 Advertisement for the Florence Tenor guitar
 Image Credit: Music Trade Review
1926 Advertisement for their La Pacific line of instruments
Image Credit: Music Trade Review


1926 Advertisement for the Octagon Banjo Ukuleles
Image Credit: Music Trade Review

Sources

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=Gm1KAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA595&dq=%22globe+music+co%22&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiD3Nb2sfHuAhWbXc0KHZHdDyoQ6AEwB3oECAQQAg#v=onepage&q=%22globe%20music%22&f=false
[2] https://books.google.com/books?id=wPVZAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA473&dq=%22globe+music+co%22&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjXgaW0s_HuAhUQXM0KHeFNC9I4ChDoATACegQIAxAC#v=onepage&q=%22globe%20music%20co%22&f=false
[3] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1930-2248/03/
[4] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1932-2265/11/
[5] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1926-83-12/41/
[6] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1929-88-29/97/
[7] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1915-60-18/35/
[8] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1918-67-1/07/
[9] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1923-76-18/26/
[10] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1934-2274/12/
[11] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1931-2258/07/
[12] https://books.google.com/books?id=lptQAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA19-PA22&dq=%22globe+music+co%22+st+charles+illinois&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi18pX1uPHuAhWCAZ0JHeDWC1YQ6AEwAnoECAYQAg#v=onepage&q=%22globe%20music%20co%22%20st%20charles%20illinois&f=false

  Image Credit: VintAxe -1938 Targ and Dinner catalog These only appear on Harmony instruments from the 1930s and were called the "Tune...

 

Image Credit: VintAxe -1938 Targ and Dinner catalog

These only appear on Harmony instruments from the 1930s and were called the "Tunerite" patent head. I suspect that these were built in house by Harmony but a Waverly construction would not be out of the question

Image Credit: Heritage Auctions



  Mapes Electric Mandolin Strings Master Strings Rickenbacker Electro Guitar Strings Electro-Amp Strings by V. C. Squier Co TrueSolo Nylon U...

 

Mapes Electric Mandolin Strings

Master Strings

Rickenbacker Electro Guitar Strings

Electro-Amp Strings by V. C. Squier Co

TrueSolo Nylon Ukulele Strings

Milton G. Wolf Dur-A-Glo Flat Wound
By the Quality Music String Company

Senorita Ukulele String

Squier Trued Dur-Flex Double Bass
"Standard Equipment for KAY Bass"

Double bowlback mandolin 1903 - L. Johnson -  US 738,811 I've stumbled across a variety of unusual and innovative guitar patents in my r...

Double bowlback mandolin
1903 - L. Johnson - US 738,811


I've stumbled across a variety of unusual and innovative guitar patents in my research and have compiled them into a list here in hopes that they would be interest for some folks. They may inspire interesting historic builds or perhaps someone owns an example of one of these instruments that was actually built. 

1854 - W. H. Towers - US 10,934

Towers' guitar features bridge pins with a hole through them, instead of a solid wood pin, which is hollowed out to the gauge of the string that it accepts. This may be the precursor to the slotted bridge pin design. He claims it reduces wear on the strings and improves the sound of the instrument. The two middle bridge pins extend all the way to the back of the instrument to act like a soundpost in a violin and improve the tone of the instrument.
https://patents.google.com/patent/US10934A



1873 - G. D. Reed - US 145,241 

Reed patented a guitar constructed from sheet metal for the back and sides and a wood top
https://patents.google.com/patent/US150355A

1886 - R. F. Flemmings Jr - US 338,727

I struggle to understand exactly what is going on with this drawing due to the complex nature of the instrument and the excessive shading. But I can see that this instrument is braced like a tank in an attempt to build a solid instrument that would not collapse under string tension. Reading the text of the patent is an interesting view into his mind where every weak area in the instrument was reinforced with wood or metal strips, bolts, or some other device. It certainly sounded terrible.

https://patents.google.com/patent/US338727A

1895 - W. D. Kyle - US 536,634

The "multiplex" instrument which is a combination of a banjo, guitar, and mandolin. 

https://patents.google.com/patent/US536634A


1895 - J. Holtvoight - US 539,056

This patent focuses on the meeting of the fingerboard to the body of the instrument. It specifically mentions the issue of the fingerboard not running parallel to the sound board (perhaps referring to a "ski ramp" over the body). Holtvoight does not mount the fingerboard to the soundboard at any point but instead has it supported by the heel block and also by a removable wedge which could be sanded down to bring the fingerboard extension back into parallel.
https://patents.google.com/patent/US539056A

1898 - P. Benson - US 608,279

This guitar has a laminate neck made up of at least 3 pieces along with another set of laminations at the heel to strengthen it. Benson notes that the heel of the instrument is the "weakest point of the neck" to "persons familiar with the manufacture or use of guitars" because of the short grain. He also includes a metal reinforcing strip stamped into a V shape to strengthen the neck. He also deviates from the standard bridge construction (citing 'objectionable construction' leading to bridges being torn off) and instead runs the strings through the bridge to anchors in the tailblock.

https://patents.google.com/patent/US608279A

1898 - G. C. Ward - US 613,540

A variant of the harp guitar designed to alleviate playing struggles of the traditional harp guitar design. 
https://patents.google.com/patent/US613540A/


1898 - L. Utt - US 615,053

Utt devised a bridge for acoustic guitars to allow for adjustable intonation and was likely the first adjustable saddle setup ever devised for the modern guitar. It bears a striking resemblance to the Fender guitar bridge. 

https://patents.google.com/patent/US615053A

1900 - S. A. Hunt - US 646,539

This instrument offers a curious take on the traditional method of bracing an instrument. Only one brace, 'd', spans the width of the instrument but it also connects the top of the instrument to the back. The other braces stop far short of the sides but extend deep into the body of the instrument.

https://patents.google.com/patent/US646539A


1901 - T. Wolfram - US 687,097

Wolfram illustrates a typical ladder braced guitar top except with the addition of "rim B" which attempts to blend banjo and guitar construction. He describes the rim as being the end point for the braces which leaves the space between the rim and the kerfing "completely free" like a "strained drum-head"
https://patents.google.com/patent/US687097A


1911 - A. Degulio - US 1,010,240

Degulio's patent describes an instrument with a second plate under the soundboard in order to anchor the top and prevent it from bowing.
https://patents.google.com/patent/US1010240A

1916 - P. Gardie - US 1,183,369

Paul Gardie designed a guitar he described as of the "contrabass type" but is what we would probably toss under the "harp guitar" moniker. It has six strings across the fretted neck but has a second body attached which sports eight more strings. The neck is also hollow with a wooden brace running down the middle. 

He claims that this instrument has been build and used and weighed between six and seven pounds!
https://patents.google.com/patent/US1183369A


1928 - A. Boothe - US 1,684,467

A bizarre guitar zither hybrid that Boothe dubbed the "sirelin"

https://patents.google.com/patent/US1684467A


1928 - H. E. Hall - US 1,692,207

This patent describes a sheet metal fingerboard that is mounted with screws for ease of manufacturing as well as allowing for ease of replacement.
https://patents.google.com/patent/US1692207A

1929 - V. C. Overton - 1,707,192

This guitar was designed with a bolt on fingerboard and an adjustable neck angle via a countersunk screw.

https://patents.google.com/patent/US1707192A/

1930 - W. W. Nelson - US 1,762,408

This patent describes an instrument top with an exaggerated radius in the middle of the guitar much like the Howe-Orme cylinder top and back instruments. 

https://patents.google.com/patent/US1762408A

1938 - G. A. Peate - US 2,130,248

This device took the place of a regular tailpiece and featured tension indicator blocks whose locations were marked when the instrument was in tune and allowed for the user of the instrument to tune their instrument back to pitch without having to hear it based on the location of the blocks. This is actually a fairly clever invention in theory.

https://patents.google.com/patent/US2130248A

Honorable Mentions

1898

 

1904

1939