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Hi, Fellow Guitarmakers!

Parlor guitars are delicate, sweet instruments. We Portuguese call them Senhorinhas (Little Ladies).

I had already restored an old Senhorinha - and posted some pictures here, in a discussion called "restoring an old instrument"- but I had no Parlor guitar of my own. The oportunity for that came two years ago: a cousin of mine offered me the remaining parts of his father's guitar.

My uncle was born in 1904, and the instrument must have been bought between 1920 and 1930. There must have been some accident, the guitar was broken, but the remaining parts were kept in an attic until the moment they were given to me.

The last time I saw my uncle was in 1955. I was five by them, but I still remember him playing Christmas songs in the piano. So, I had sentimental reasons to rescue what was left of the instrument...


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Thank you very much for the encouragement.

The fact is, that in this community - and, namely, in this "guitar makers" group - I have much more to learn than to teach (no false modesty in this statement).  To exhibit some of the jobs I've done may do some good to my ego, but that is not the main purpose: I value all the comments I get, especially those that criticize, expose errors, faults, lack of care or knowledge. Besides, there's aonother reason to post these pictures: many guitar players (some of my friends here in Lisbon and, probably, many members of this community), never built, or repaired, an instrument - but consider the possibility of giving themselves a try. So, I hope that these discussions may encourage them, because seeing "how it's done" can help destroy the myth that instrument making is a matter for a few "gifted", chosen" or "enlightened" individuals,  and prove that it is basically a matter of learning, hard work, lots of patience, great care and... much love.

Ah, one more thing: all good luthiers I had the pleasure to meet have thick notebooks, where they write down measurements, techniques, "secrets" of the craft, et coetera. Because of my lack of method, I don't do that part of the job, so, I take pictures... it's a pleasure and an honor to share them!

Once again, thank you, thank you all very much!

You are a true artist Luis! Although I would have french polished a little diferently (there are no wrong ways especially) just different techniques. You are right, patience is the key and I find restoring an instrument to be very "zen".


You're absolutely right, Robert. Two hours at the work bench make you sleep well - no stress, no sleeping pills!

Yes and everyone has their own unique approach to building and repairing. I read everything I can from builders books and have put together a little library! What I have found, however, is that I like to draw alittle from everywhere then expand on my own. I use things from Sloane, Robert Benedetto and John Bogdanovich mostly and inlay and french polisher techniques. I pick what is most comfortable for me. Of course you're always experimenting. How does your little parlor sound?
Well, it's very decent, it sounds better than medium-priced standard size factory guitars, Loud and clear, and well balanced. But, of course, it's not a Martin dreadnough or luthier-made concert guitar. One may very well sing a song, play some chords and a bass line in it, and not feel desappointed. Following the Torres pattern was surely a good choice... not a Rolls, but it fullfilled my expectations.
Sounds great, all instruments have their own voice. I'm experimenting an a very inexpensive 7/8 size Yamaha classical that out of the box is pretty much muted with a less than desireable set-up, strings too close together etc. But it was cheap and I wanted to see if I could bring it up some. I expect I can improve it fairly easily by replacing the bridge, nut and saddle (it's plastic and I'll use bone) and since it at least has a decent spruce top I'll remove the top finish and do 5-8 shellac sessions on it. Just curious... I agree about the Torres pattern. Good choice!

Very beautiful pics you posted... I guess you chose the kind of shellac that suits you instrument the best.

And I learned two things: 1) the creative use of baby oil; 2) the term "denaturated alcohol", which I assume is the same thing as "methylated spirits". The Portuguese words for that are "álcool desnaturado". As I was writing my comments, I searched for "denaturated" in a dictionary, but didn't find it - maybe because it was a British English dictionary. It is of some comfort to me to find the term "denaturated" in use... (these discussions surely are instructive)! 

Hi Luis, hope you're enjoying your "remains" parlour guitar! I though you might be interested in seeing the finished (except for a glaze coat and polish) archtop. There are 7 sessions of light blonde shellac on the top and back, 6 sessions of light blonde shellac on the sides and neck and 2 sessions of brown shellac (one cut) on the sides and neck... I wanted contrast and was in a creative mood. What do you think? The guitar looks better than the photos but you get the idea! Buy the way the top is German spruce, everything else is flamed maple.

Hi, Robert,

In my opinion, the guitar looks absolutely gorgeous! If you say that, on natural, it looks even better than in the pics, it must be a delightful thing to look at. I surely would like to play it!


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