The restoration of the guitar by Francois Roudhloff is now complete and the instrument is strung up to pitch. (More details of the restoration can be found here and here). This has been a most gratifying process and I am very pleased with the final result. This is also one of the nicest sounding 19th century guitars I have played - always a bonus.
This guitar is now returned to how it was originally; the replacement fingerboard removed and an authentic bridge and peghead made. The wonderful finish on the back and ribs is completely original. This colour doesn't come out of a bottle, but takes almost 200 years to achieve.
After the major work had been completed there were a number of small tasks to finish; replacing a small piece of ebony veneer on the back of the neck, gluing up a couple of hairline cracks, fret fettling, peg fitting, and making a new nut. The new nut (above) is made of ebony and in the picture you can see the strings slots being marked out onto the nut blank.
The 2 pictures below show the old replacement head and the new head. It is nice to be reminded of how the instrument was and the improvements that have been made. It is very easy to be dismissive of previous repair work but, in fact, the headstock I replaced was a functional repair that perhaps guaranteed the survival of the instrument. A broken guitar may have been discarded but this guitar continued to be used and enjoyed.
The guitar still has, what is almost certainly, its original case (pictured below). Although not offering the protection a modern case would give, it adds greatly to the character of the guitar. The new replica bridge can be seen in the picture, as can the lighter patch left by the modern classical bridge that had been fitted at some point. I have left this patch to darken down naturally as, in the long term, I feel this will give a more satisfactory result.
That concludes this restoration, and I am looking forward to returning it to its owner. If you have read this blog and get the impression I enjoyed working on this guitar, you would be absolutely right!