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Thread: Defarbing a guitar?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    28

    Default Defarbing a guitar?

    Iíve been playing for over 25 years now and am wanting to take my skills into my reenacting impression. Problem is, I'm not sure how to go about "defarbing" a guitar. What would you guys recommend doing to a standard modern guitar in order to make it more period correct? What would be a good guitar model to begin with?

    M. Payne
    2nd KY Vol. Inf.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Spring Hill, FL
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    1,453

    Default

    This has been an ongoing discussion through the years, and if you type in guitar in the search function above (the bar with the maginifying glass icon), you'll find some previous threads. Long story short, its tough to make a modern guitar look like a period guitar without alot of work
    Ross Lamoreaux
    Moderator and Sewer of Historical Clothing and Tall Tales

    "But our opportunity to learn and grow, to communicate the richness of the lives that have gone before us, that does not change. We do not outgrow it. It does not tatter and fall apart in our hands..." -Mrs. Terre Lawson, 2010

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Shawnee Mission, Kansas
    Posts
    37

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    Obviously, guitars were smaller than most modern guitars. Nothing worse than a big ol' dreadnaught or a jumbo at a reenactment. Smaller guitars can be found. I have a friend who found an 1890's Washburn for about $600. It's an interesting axe, and looks decent for the period. Guitars like these are relatively affordable because modern pickers have no use for them. Not enough volume, I guess.

    Just as important as defarbing the guitar would be defarbing your chops and defarbing your repertiore. Consult period instruction manuals for technique and repertiore. Truly researched guitar playing is something you almost never see in the hobby. There's a lot of cool music out there, waiting to be brought back to life.
    Carl Anderton

    "Frank Converse the banjoist, his beautiful wife, and a young gentleman from Richmond, said to be smitten by the latter's charms, skipped away from Petersburg, Va., by the Southern train, leaving the "Converse Opera Troupe" to fufill the engagement as best they could."

    National Police Gazette, April 1860

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    1,695

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    Good luck finding gut strings and tuning them with friction held tuning pegs.
    How about a shoebox fiddle or a tackhead banjer instead?
    Craig L Barry

    Author: The Civil War Musket: A Handbook for Historical Accuracy

  5. #5

    Default

    Aquila Gut & Silk sets, by mail order: http://www.elderly.com/accessories/items/AGNS.htm (easier than finding ammo for some cw ear guns)
    CW era guitars had "modern" mechanical geared tuners.
    How about a concertina? (your suggestions are great too!)

    Dave Culgan
    banjer player - Camptown Shakers

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Shawnee Mission, Kansas
    Posts
    37

    Default

    Yeah, geared tuners were on some CW era guitars and even a few banjos. Properly fitted friction pegs are not impossible, however, and were probably more PEC. Same with gut strings. They made 'em work, and we can too, given the right attitude.

    It all depends on what you want to do with your music. I'd rather listen to a research-oriented reenactor with nylon strings who plays guitar well than a super-correct one who hasn't practiced. The music should come first, IMHO.

    'Course, a quality repop git-tar with gut strings well played by a stitch-counter would be the best of all worlds.
    Carl Anderton

    "Frank Converse the banjoist, his beautiful wife, and a young gentleman from Richmond, said to be smitten by the latter's charms, skipped away from Petersburg, Va., by the Southern train, leaving the "Converse Opera Troupe" to fufill the engagement as best they could."

    National Police Gazette, April 1860

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    1,695

    Default

    You can put $4000 into a period correct Martin parlor guitar pretty easily, but you don't have to in order to have
    a reasonably good playing and correct instrument. The gut strings are necessary to provide a warm tone. I will have
    to check my notes but one period reference from a CS artillery officer who brought a guitar from home (IIRC) refers
    to it as costing $50.

    At the current rate, the $4000 Martin today is not that far off the period cost of $50. The point is that the modern
    "dreadnought" shape can't be de-farbed into anything resembling a Civil War-era instrument.
    Craig L Barry

    Author: The Civil War Musket: A Handbook for Historical Accuracy

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