A Panormo purchased from a Bath auction house by a musician in Bergen, Norway has arrived for restoration. These photos are show the state of the guitar as it arrived.
The guitar arrived strung up and it played beautifully. There was a vague hint of lavender. However, there were also rattles when the guitar was tapped and it appeared that some bars were loose. The guitar is 174 years old and in need of a good restoration.
The bridge looked suspiciously chunky and I suspect it was not original. The first task was to remove the bridge. It came off easily using a sharp chisel and a heavy mallet. This is a very delicate operation, tapping gently with the big mallet. There is something about the momentum of the mallet that convinces the bridge to let go.
The fingerboard and frets are not original and there is a slight problem with frets 11 and 12 as they are not correctly positioned. This can just about be seen in the photo above. They are very close to where they should be and when played, most players did not notice the inaccuracy. Later, the new owner may or may not choose to have this corrected.
With the back removed, the extent of the repairs needed became apparent. There was a large un-reinforced crack on the back and the both back bars were loose at their ends. As is often the case with old guitars, the body of the guitar had shrunk slightly, but the back bars had not and had become too long, pushing out the sides of the guitar. With the back off, these bars are easily trimmed.
The body of the guitar showed un-reinforced cracks below the bridge, more loose bars and a loose linen patch over a crack on the rosewood side. The area below the bridge should be reinforced so that the strings pull against a thin piece of hardwood rather than the soft wood of the soundboard.
Astonishingly, there were about 20 grains of rice glued to one of the bars on the back. This is the side that was not visible from the sound hole. Three grains were also attached to the soundboard. How they got there and why they were glued in place is a mystery.
This is a good time to photograph the label. On the left the number 2830, on the right, the year 1840.
Although the bridge came off cleanly, the soundboard below it was badly warped. Glue from the removed bridge remained and had to be removed by soaking in water, then washing with hot water. The varnish in the area was already missing, so I did not worry about damage to the finish. This left the soundboard wet and pliable. I clamped it flat and let it dry for several days. The soundboard became as flat as the day it was made.
Inside the body of the guitar I glued small hardwood patches under the area of the removed bridge and added trapezoids of thin Swiss pine below existing cracks. The big bar was also unglued in two places and I re-attached the linen reinforcement on the side of the guitar. The bars on the back were loose and too long. I trimmed them and glued them back in place and added reinforcing hardwood trapezoids over the big split.
The back and body are ready to be re-united, but it will be easier to attach the new bridge first.
Making the components of the new bridge.
Attaching the new bridge to the guitar. Immediately after this the back and body were re-united.
The guitar was strung with Savarez Red strings and has a wonderful full and rich tone.
String length: 634 mm
Overall Length: 938 mm
Width of upper bout: 225 mm
Width at waist: 175 mm
Width at lower bout: 285 mm
Height at upper bout: 86.5 mm
Height at lower bout: 93.5 mm
Nut width: 45.5 mm
Weight: 1.18 kg