J.G. Schroeder Standard Size Parlor Guitar , c. 1910

J.G. Schroeder  Standard Size Parlor Guitar ,  c. 1910
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Item # 7491
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J.G. Schroeder Standard Size Model Parlor Guitar, c. 1910, made in New York, NY, natural varnish finish, brazilian rosewood back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This lovely 19th century style parlor guitar is marked "J. G. Schroeder New York" on the backstrip; this was one of many dealers in the area over a century ago who sold musical goods and sometimes built them themselves. Whether or not Schroeder actually constructed it, this is a beautifully made instrument very much in the German-American tradition, with some interesting features and a rather Martin-like feel overall. This is built with what was termed at the time a "standard" size body, just over 12 1/2" at the lower bout; of course today it seems like a very small guitar, but over 100 years ago was "just right"!

This is an extremely finely made guitar, with workmanship and materials far above the quality of standard catalog pieces of the time. The back and sides are made of finely figured Brazilian rosewood with a beautiful straight grain; even at the time this was a very expensive wood. The top is very tightly grained spruce, bound and bordered in chain-pattern wood marquetry with a Martin 21-style herringbone sound hole ring. The back is bound as well with a herringbone backstrip. The ebony bridge is also very Martin-like with soft pyramid ends.

The neck is mahogany with a very soft "V" profile and a thick ebony fingerboard with three large pearl dot position markers. The slotted headstock is faced with rosewood on both sides, and has the same style decorative diamond on the back as higher-end Martins. The bar frets are also the same type used at Martin, while the nut is an interesting and unique two-stage design which acts as a self-contained zero fret. The tuners are the same New York-made engraved-plate Handel Machines seen on many period Gibson and Martin instruments.

It should be noted this is a gut string guitar, not built for modern steel stringing...exactly like the Martins of the time. Like them, it is delicately X-braced with a very small spruce bridgeplate. All internal work is extremely neat and precise, with beautifully rounded and shaped braces. It is built sturdily enough to handle silk-and-steel strings, but we feel it sounds best with the gut it was intended for. It is currently so strung, with genuine gut trebles and silk-cored basses, and has a lovely, sweet sound with surprising volume. This is easily one of the finest (non-Martin) small-body guitars of its type we have ever had and a wonderful example of its type, a throwback to a gaslit New York in its gilded age.
 
Overall length is 37 1/4 in. (94.6 cm.), 12 5/8 in. (32.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 9/16 in. (9 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 1/2 in. (622 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This guitar is extremely well-preserved considering its age and relative fragility, and remains completely original down to the wooden bridge pins and endpin. The very thin varnish finish has some general wear overall and a few deeper scrapes and dings. The natural varnish has darkened somewhat over time on the top, with some wear from picking in the obvious spots. There are a number of repaired grain cracks to both the top and back, all neatly sealed up but visible with no overspray or finish touch-up added. The original bridge is intact with some small chips around the string slots; it shows no signs of ever having lifted. The neck and frets remain in excellent condition and the guitar plays very well, with a truly lovely and amazingly robust sound. Includes a more modern HSC. Excellent - Condition.