It is not often you get to work with a historical instrument. This parlor guitar made by Pehr A. Anderberg in the USA is one such. It has a fully functional drawbar that was patented by Anderberg as early as 1894 before Gibson patented its variant of drawbar in 1926. Pehr passed away in 1910 and the patent was invalid when Gibson received his patent. Here is Anderberg's patent from 1894.
In the patent, in addition to the drawbar, there was, among other things, a tricky stable that actually resembles the one I invented for my very first "renovation" (which I am now a little ashamed of)! Several flies in one go. The "drawbar" in the patent is actually not a rod but a wire.
It all started when my friend Farre (who has been an apprentice in the room twice) sent a link to a phrase that was for sale on a Swedish auction site, Ekenbergs Auktioner in Karlshamn in Blekinge. The auctioneer had taken very nice pictures and the guitar was very interesting, I wrote "Buy it!" in the reply email.
After a bit of googling on Anderberg, I found this information in an old magazine, The Music Trade Review, from 1904 and also the patent.
WILL MAKE MANDOLINS AND GUITARS.
[Special to The Review.]
Boston, Mass., Jan 12, 1904. PA Anderberg-, who formerly made guitars and mandolins for John C. Haynes & Co., of this city, now merged in the Oliver Ditson Co., has formed a co-partner-ship with his son, Ralph H. Anderberg until recently a mandolin and guitar manufacturer of Mt. Vernon, NY, for the purpose of making guitars and mandolins. At present the factory of the two Anderbergs (father and son) is located at their home on Cottage street, Chelsea, Mass., But they contemplate moving their workrooms to Boston, in the near future.
By a lucky coincidence, I received an email from Bruce Cowan in the US asking for details on the Bauer guitar from the 1890s that Farre and I renovated during one of his visits to the venue. Quotes some of his emails.
“George Bauer was a manufacturer, and I do not think he was a luthier. He came to Philadelphia around 1890 as a young salesman for the Boston company John C. Haynes, manufacturers of Bay State instruments and many others.
He started marketing his own make of guitars and mandolins in 1894. His luthier was Ernest Anderberg. In 1898, Bauer partnered with SS Stewart the banjo manufacturer, and then Stewart died. In the catalog linked on your site it shows two lines of instruments, the Monogram and more expensive George Bauer line.
He supplied a Monogram equivalent to the Sears Roebuck catalog company through 1903 or so. They were labeled Acme Professional, and I see one on your page. In 1898, Ernest left the company and his father Per Anderberg came to help ramp up production, as he had done with Bay State guitars in Boston. Per (usually spelled Pehr) was born near Malmo and learned the trade there. I've been in touch with Kenneth Sparr about that… perhaps you know him, as he is a Swedish guitar scholar.
(There were other Swedes at Bay State who went on to form Vega guitars and became VERY successful. Earlier, Per's brother Erland Anderberg started a factory in Mount Vernon New York. By 1900 it had 50 employees. I have not yet found out what labels went on them, but there must have been thousands! It continued until 1915. There's probably another article in these Swedish makers from the Boston area.)
Bauer had a lot of business trouble in 1901 or so, when he cut out the Stewarts, and the company reformed again in 1904 with his brother Emil at the helm. I think the company was gone by about 1911 or so. Emil was involved in the Keen-o-phone phonograph company, and it was gone by about 1914.
I found that Bauer died in 1946 in an insane asylum in Pennsylvania. I found other evidence of mental illness, and it may explain the business trouble in the early 1900s and why he disappeared from the music business. ”
In addition to details about the Bauer guitar, I mentioned the Anderberg guitar in the conversation with him and it turned out that he is probably the one in the world who knows the most about Pehr A. Anderberg! He was one of many in a whole collective of Swedish immigrants to the USA who made guitars of high quality, he was probably one of the most skilled and was hired as a craftsman by several large manufacturers. This is how Bruce writes in an email (where he included the auction guitar, the only one marked PA Anderberg that he knows of).
“I think I need to complete the Bauer story before I tackle the Anderberg story. With the Anderbergs I could look at other Swedish makers of that time in Boston, like the Nelsons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vega_Company
I have never seen an Anderberg labeled guitar. This is a rare object. Here's the basic PA Anderberg information I've researched. I did not include the footnotes, but I have marked the sources.
Per Andersson Anderberg was born May 21,1838, in Tygelsjo near Malmo, Sweden (Swedish reference). He was an apprentice in the cabinet shop of Carl Johan Bergman in Malmö during the period 1854-1860. (Reference from Kenneth Sparr). He came to America in 1864 (1900 US Census, Ernest's account). He made guitars for C. Bruno, the well-known Manhattan manufacturer and retailer. (Son Ernest's account).
In America, he was known as PA Anderberg or Pehr Anderberg. Records show that Pehr Anderberg married Hulda Elfrida Huppner (b. Sweden, 7 June 1851) in 1872 in Brooklyn. (footnote church record).
The 1873/4 City Directory for New York lists a Peter Anderberg as a guitar maker working at on Pearl Street, in Manhattan, and living in Brooklyn. The directory shows no music retailers or manufacturers listed at that address in that era.
Pehr's brother Erland came to America in 1873 (later passport app), and the two of them made guitars in Mount Vernon, New York and the adjacent settlement of Washingtonville. Ernest Alfrid Anderberg (DATE) and Rolf Hugo Anderberg (DATE) were born at Mount Vernon. Erland manufactured guitars and mandolins there until about 1915.
Pehr and his family moved to Malmo late in the 1870s, where his son Edvin was born in 1880. Pehr had a retail store there (Ernest, Swedish source?) The family returned to the United States in August, 1882 (immigration records).
On their return they lived in the Boston area. PA Anderberg supplied guitars to the John C. Haynes & Co. From about 1888-1891, he was the foreman in their factory.
After that Anderberg went into business for himself in Chelsea, near Boston, manufacturing fretted instruments for August Pollman, a New York retailer. In 1894, he received a U.S. Patent 516717A, an improvement on guitar design, an adjustable stiffening wire that was the forerunner of the truss rod. The only guitar this author has seen with Anderberg's name on it is likely from this period, and it has this improvement. It was sold at auction in Sweden in January 2021.
Around 1898, PA Anderberg began working for Stewart & Bauer in Philadelphia following the merger of banjo manufacturer SS Stewart and George Bauer, a maker of guitars and mandolins. Production was ramped up to supply “Acme Professional” instruments to Sears Roebuck & Co. (Anderberg's son Ernest, who had learned luthiery at his father's side, had been making guitars for Bauer since about 1893.)
In 1904, Anderberg was back in business in Chelsea, either as a repairer, maker, or both. In the summer of 1907, Hulda and Pehr visited Sweden. In April, 1908, Anderberg's shop was destroyed in the Chelsea fire.
Per Andersson Anderberg died in Chelsea on March 18, 1910. By then, his son Ernest had returned to Chelsea, and he continued working there as a repairer for a few more decades.
ATTACHED are a couple of screen shots from the main source. It is not completely accurate. I hope to visit Boston and see the author's papers. Also, the fire is out of historical sequence. I used a lot of maps and other resources.
The main source is viewable here: https://archive.org/details/contributionstoa00ayar Searching the text does not connect with the table in the back of the book.
Anderberg had built "Tilton patent" guitars when he worked for Haynes, and knew that having a popular patent could pay off over the long run. Tilton came up with some interesting innovations, mainly a solid wood rod that was an extension of the neck running through the body to the end pin, taking some stress off the neck joint. These often had a metal disk badge floating in the soundhole, attached to the rod. They also had tailpieces. On a few, the wood grain ran diagonally.
The Anderbergs and Bauer had factories with maybe 30 employees. I see pictures of a three-story brick building. Then the Chicago manufacturing took off with huge plants, and that ended Bay State and Bauer and Erland Anderberg.
Pehr's son did not spend much time in luthiery, as I've seen him in city directories doing other work, but the mention of his work in Mount Vernon seems to indicate that he worked with his uncle Erland at least briefly. It is the only indication I have of a connection between Pehr and Erland after 1880 or so. The son was young at this time (20s) and Pehr was old (66).
Pehr's brother Erland Anderberg had a patent too. An adjustable bridge. https://patents.google.com/patent/US282147A/en Erland had a factory in Mount Vernon, New York from 1882-1915. In 1900 he had dozens of employees. He must have made thousands of instruments, but I can not find out who put their label on them. Probably one of the big New York City retailers. I have not seen any instruments attributed to him ”.
A really fantastically detailed account to say the least, a big thank you to Bruce Cowan!
Pehr and his brother were clearly very knowledgeable and skilled craftsmen and made many of the most beautiful guitars made in the United States around the turn of the century 1900 under different names. This guitar marked PA Anderberg was most likely manufactured between 1904 and 1908 before his workshop in Chelsea burned down. Maybe Pehr brought this guitar to Scania during his visit in 1907, the auction in Blekinge is not far from Scania. Unfortunately, Farre did not get hold of those who sold the guitar, the only thing he learned was that many in the family for the estate were sailors. Probably the story had cooled down and the guitar hung as a wall decoration with its previous owner.
I promised Farre to repair it if he bought it, luckily he sent it home for SEK 8500. There was a bidding war with another buyer, otherwise it would have gone for less money. It will fit well next to his equally fine Bauer guitar which was perhaps built by Pehr's brother! Well. After a number of weeks, I got the guitar home in a Gator 3/4 case in which it was just possible to get the guitar down. A size comparison with Farres Bauer guitar and a Levin parlor. The shape was very similar to the Bauer guitar.
The guitar was in good condition but not without problems. The stable was loose and the bottom had a crack in the middle joint and the bottom had dropped to the side in some places. The lid was deformed around the stable and the bottom of the oak sunk. The tuning screws were very strange and as it turned out later unusable when they cogged around when trying to tune. The neck was bent, the reason was that the drawbar had not been tightened and it had probably been kept unplayed with tuned strings for many years. The neck had been re-glued with carpentry glue, there was also carpentry glue in the middle joint of the bottom and at the edge of the bottom. Two brass nails had been nailed into the neck foot… The end block later turned out to be cracked in the middle. The side had received some almost invisible stab wounds in two places, they could easily be glued together with hot skin glue.
I was very curious about the construction of the drawbar, as the neck had to be changed if the step was not far to loosen the fretboard to really be able to study the drawbar and make it easier to loosen the neck. It turned out that the neck had a "Levin attachment" without dovetail, it had probably gone well to loosen the neck without taking off the fretboard first.
The drawbar was not a wire as in the patent, instead it looked pretty much like a normal Gibson type drawbar. I guess it did not take long before Pehr realized that a rod works much better than a wire! The drawbar has its problems as it protrudes into the fretboard at both ends. The attachment at the neck foot is strong, the bar has been bent 90 degrees, which can be seen in the pictures, but the nut can not be tightened too hard as it only rests on the upper saddle in the ebony and the end wood on the fingerboard. On this particular guitar, the drawbar does not work so well as the wood of the neck is both strong and hard. The most important thing is that it is tightened and not loose, you can not bend back the neck relief more than a little grand. I specially made a fixed 8 mm wrench to access the nut which was very tight. A crescent-shaped hole for the drawbar was recessed on the underside of the upper saddle.
It was easy to loosen the bottom. The ribs at the bottom were relatively loose, the glued spruce to oak does not sit as well as spruce to spruce. However, the ribs sat in the lid like the mountain! I like the ribbing in the lid, it is similar to the one I use in my GammelGura. I actually got some inspiration and nowadays I stick the ends of the ribs under the kerfing on GammelGura guitars and have modified the stable plate so it goes over the entire lid.
It is noticeable that it was a skilled craftsman who built the guitar. An extremely beautiful stable and end bud, nicely and sensibly put together otherwise.
As I said, the lid was deformed around the stable and also the bottom, tried to get it in some pictures. The bottom still curved more when it was loosened from the side, the oak had shrunk and the glue in the bottom ribs held up.
To flatten the lid and bottom, the ribs were removed from the bottom and around the stable in the lid. The lid and bottom were soaked thoroughly and put under pressure for a few days.
The bottom could be glued without major problems, part of the edge of the bottom had to be scrapped away in the narrowest place as usual. The shrunken bottom has a smaller circumference than the side, a simple solution is to push the side in a few mm in the narrowest place for the best fit.
The fretboard was glued back without any problems.
The neck was glued on. Despite all the measurement, it was not perfectly glued in, the biggest reason was that the fretboard was not completely flat. When the straps were removed, I sanded the board that had a 10 ″ radius plane. Unfortunately I had to grind at the top but also at the 12th band. When the board was straight, the string height of the 12th band became half a mm too high. I glued the neck a second time and got to the angle perfectly. A strap at the top of the stable instead of a stable leg places high demands, there is virtually nothing to correct if the neck angle is not perfect.
The stable, still with its original sticks, was re-glued with hot skin glue. The stable's string pin hole had deep worn notches from the strings, they were also not centered in the hole. Used tape as "resistance" for superglue and sanding dust of rosewood that filled the grooves. It worked well!
The fretboard, which was ground flat, was re-banded with new and higher nickel bands. The originals were saved on a "smatterband", they were soft not of the best quality. The lighter parts of the fretboard are the areas that were not sanded down.
To intonate better, the strip groove is filled in the stable again and a new strip was mounted 2 mm further down on the bass side and 1 mm further down on the treble side. Some previous damage around the stable was hidden with golden brown stain, the scrapped edge of the oak base was repaired with spirit varnish with a thin brush. New Golden Age tuning screws with black knobs were fitted.
All replaced parts are included in the case for the guitar. After four days of vibration, it is open and loud with soft Newtone Heritage 0.11 strings and tones well on the 12th band. Compared to an GammelGura with all the features, the tone is more brutal and more primitive than I am used to. The stable strap and the upper saddle in ebony are some reasons, the body in oak, on the other hand, is more resonant than expected. 100 years of drying will probably do its thing!