Oahu Guitar Restoration #1: Introduction

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Lemongrasspicker posted 02-20-2017 10:52 PM 1659 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Oahu Guitar Restoration series Part 2: Removing the Back »

Video is here:

My day job is as a stringed instrument repair “tech” (I don’t really like that word, I just refer to it as fine woodworking) and I like to continue my work at home.

This guitar is something that my wife bought for me as a christmas gift last year for a little bit. I was thrilled since it had had no previous “pro” repair jobs done to it which means that my job is still going to be challenging but it will be MUCH easier since I don’t have to undo any previous repair work in the 80 years that this guitar has been around.

To give an idea of the construction thought process with this thing. The first thing to realize is that when this guitar was made there was not a massive repository of information on guitar construction as there is now. The steel string gutiar itself had barely been around 30-35 years at this point. Much of what was done was done in experimentation. One thing that is interesting is that looking at the inside the bridge plate is made of mahogany with the grain running horizontal to the top (if don’t know, that is the equivalent of using a 1×2 piece of pine to span a 12’ gap with a 200lb gorilla sitting in the middle, it just doesn’t work). It’s no surprise to me that these guitars fail all the time and require quite a bit of work to get them back to where they play well and have a decent sound, they are capable of very good solid tones but the construction methods doomed many of them from the very beginning for a short lifetime.

I get asked constantly about taking old cheap guitars (silvertones, stellas, harmony etc…) and restoring them to sell, problem is they were cheap when they were made and they are still cheap now. The work I will be doing to this one along will be easily 10x the value of the guitar but I’m also doing it as a teaching method. I referenced earlier that there were no previous repair attempts. I can’t tell you how many horrible DestroyItYourself jobs I have seen wrought on these hapless instruments. Things like soaking the entire top in epoxy to repair a small crack, using 4/4 plywood to patch a missing piece of the top, taking a dremel tool to file down the fret ends, using an angle grinder to cut down the nut to lower the action, I have seen worse those are just a few.

And wouldn’t you know it like an idiot I neglected to get a bunch of “before” pics before I flicked on the video camera and started to record, apologies for that, the video does show the guitar in good detail.

This will be a long process as there are multiple issues that require new parts and replacement parts to be made. Multiple cracks, multiple construction issues etc… This’ll be a fun journey and this is only step 1.



3 comments so far

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3774 days

#1 posted 02-21-2017 03:05 AM

Very interesting work ahead of you. Keep us posted

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Porchfish's profile


862 posts in 3303 days

#2 posted 02-21-2017 01:57 PM

I look forward to following along…. looks like quite an undertaking. Go you know who made this guitar back in the day ? Thanks for showing….

-- The pig caught under the fence is always the one doing all the squealing !

View Lemongrasspicker's profile


123 posts in 1266 days

#3 posted 02-27-2017 02:55 PM

I look forward to following along…. looks like quite an undertaking. Go you know who made this guitar back in the day ? Thanks for showing….

- Porchfish

Yes, there was a large company that published alot of hawaiian music back in the 1920s called the “Oahu Publishing Company” They made guitars to go along with their songbooks. Hawaiian music was all the rage during the 20s for some reason so there were many guitars built specifically for the style of playing during that period. Some were great, others were not. This one was a cheaper one even by those standards back then haha!


Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics