Arthur Robb
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Restorations of Guitars by Louis Panormo

Twenty-four Louis Panormo guitars have been restored in my workshop.
A twenty-fifth is underway.

Louis Panormo, 1784-1862, had a workshop in Bloomsbury, London. Many guitars were made, it may even have been a small factory. Today, his guitars are much sought after and often restored with the intention being used. They have a wonderful tone and are a delight to play.

Some earlier Panormos have a small label which reads "Panormo Fecit". They have cross bracing under the soundboard and are smaller than later examples. Two guitars I have restored are of this type, an 1827 and an 1831. Other guitars have a larger label which reads "Louis Panormo, The only maker of Guitars in the Spanish Style". These guitars are larger and have some type of fan bracing.

The address is variously given as 40 or 46 High Street, Bloomsbury. This street is, I believe, now known as St. Giles High Street, and the address is very near to Centerpoint. The 1849 guitars have the labels altered by hand to read 31 High Street Bloomsbury.

James Westbrook, of the Brighton based Guitar Museum, has done a PhD on the Panormo guitar and the November 2013 issue of Early Music has an article by James about this work. His thesis will be published as a book.


Current Panormo Restoration
1849? Panormo Fecit
Number ????

1849 Panormo 1849 Panormo 1849 Panormo 1849 Panormo 1849 Panormo

I think this might be an 1849 Panormo as it looks much like the other four 1849s I have restored, but it could be as early as 1838. The label is illegible. One machine head has been cut off and the soundboard needs repair in many places. The inside of the guitar many previous repairs are visible as is a great amount of dust and debris. It will be interesting to see what is in there when the back comes off.

I purchased in this guitar in 2015. It has no case and will never be a prized museum specimen, but it should turn out to be very playable and reasonably priced.

The restoration is beginning in February 2020.

1849 Panormo 1849 Panormo

Later Panormos, like this one, have a binding which hides the join between sides and back. The first step is to remove the binding. On either side of the binding is a very thin black white black layer, a purfling. I had to sacrifice the binding as it broke in so many pieces. The BWB layer below the binding is also sacrificed but I attempted to keep the BWB purfling which is attached to the back. Once the purfling is removed, the back can be separated from the body. The back had been removed before and was extremely difficult to remove a second time - it is so easy to mix the old hide glue so it is too strong. Parts of the purfling came loose and were held in place with pins until, using existing glue. Altogether, a dirty, messy, gooey and slow job.

1849 Panormo 1849 Panormo

The inside. The body has had extraordinary repairs and will take some time to plan the work to be done. The silver gaffer tape has adhered very tightly to the wood of the soundboard. The back was filthy and had layers of repairs including parchment over existing repairs. Both back bars were loose and damaged. The dust indicated that a very long time had elapsed between the first restoration and the current one.

1849 Panormo 1849 Panormo

Soaking to soften old unwanted repairs and at the same time gluing up loose joints is a juggling act. On the right, the back is beginning to look healthier.

Panormo Links

Giulio Tampalini plays Fernando Sor on an 1849 Panormo (not 1860 as stated in the video),
which is the first 1849 restoration linked above.
Two Guitarists playing 19th century music on Panormos.
Technical drawing of an c. 1845 Panormo in the Edinburgh University Collection of Historical Musical Instruments. The plan number is 2014. The website is never easy to use and a phone call may be necessary.
How Martin Guitars of the 19th century were influenced by the guitars of Louis Panormo.
There are some factual errors in this article but the photos of Martin and Panormo guitars are interesting.