This storied Grand Concert (14.25” wide) model, having snowflake, etched diamond and cats-eye fingerboard inlays in 5 positions, resplendent in abalone trim around both the face and the soundhole) was originally made to be played horizontally, on the lap or on a strap, with a slide on one’s side in a most Hawaiian way. Since most players today don’t play Hawaiian, it is increasingly common to find examples that have been converted to regular action. This is done by way of a neck reset, and the bar frets are leveled, rounded and dressed so that they can be played with the fingers on the neck in the normal, comfortable fashion. Unfortunately, who so ever did this conversion in the distant past made the mistake of removing the original bar frets and installing tang frets (What was he thinking? Tang is for Astronauts!) into those wider fret slots, using glue. That didn’t work. The same shameless person shaved the ebony bridge, which later cracked between the pins. A prior owner, perhaps when he was young, lightly scratched what seems to be his name on the bass side of the face between soundhole and bridge. That name might be “Elrath.” It’s hard to tell. But it’s very light and, fortunately, not easy to see.
The original case, whose insides are purple, shows normal wear; the inside pocket lid is lightly loose but it has a snap attachment to keep it closed, and it has a replacement leather handle. Inside the case pocket is a very old green cloth strap from its Hawaiian days, a more modern slide and 2 picks. This guitar shows normal signs of use and wear including scratches, dings, finish checking (especially below the bridge but in other places as well), chips overall including in the finish of the Brazilian rosewood headplate, nicks, light buckle marks, scratches and scores on the top as might have been intentionally made by an unsupervised child, scuffs and scrapes. In addition there is a 7 ½” long semi-repaired crack on the bass side, lower bout, near the face, which was amateurishly repaired with, um, nail polish or something. (Remember, we tend to overstate the negatives, so it actually looks better than the picture we seem to be painting.)This guitar shows the normal array of signs of time passed and gentle use that almost any guitar from 1935 is apt to show. Considering both its age and that it was originally used for Hawaiian playing with a slide, it has survived these 77 years admirably.
Our head of repair, Leroy Aiello, restored the best possible karma to this fine instrument by providing it C F Martin-sourced bar frets, and making and installing a perfect replica bridge, a new nut, and a new “through” saddle. This guitar now enjoys a flawless geometry, an acoustic that plays like Mercury himself, and sings with the lungs of the Valkyries. Since these were built to be played slide style, they have considerable volume – far exceeding what most people feel a Grand Concert is capable. The combination of the Brazilian, and the Adirondack, the diaphragmatic enhanced response that comes from being shallowly routed for pearl around its perimeter, its 74 years of maturity, plus the uncompromised craft of Leroy Aiello, restorer to the stars, resulted in an instrument whose capabilities will leave those of us who love the six-string experience breathless, stupefied and even, dare we say, gobsmacked.
THIS WAS $25,775 BUT NOW ON SALE FOR: