Norman Wood 1977

En interesting guitar has passed the premises. Built by the quirky Englishman Norman Wood in 1977. Found an article about him in one English guitar magazine if I rewrote in a previous blog post. At the beginning of the magazine there was a small text about him 🙂

Well. The guitar had some problems. The lid had a couple of cracks and the neck had folded a little into the sound hole with high string height as a result. It had been repaired earlier and a wide piece of mahogany had been glued into a crack behind the stable. Either a sub-saddle mic had been fitted then, or it was original. Would in any case be replaced with a K&K mic. Possibly the bands in the form of round rods in nickel-silver steel had been crowned.

To access the inside and to fix the sunken lid around the sound hole, I opened the bottom. A bit tricky as the binding around the bottom was not a solid wood molding but two layers of thin maple veneer. Mahogany is also troublesome as it has a texture similar to crispbread, usually it is difficult to get loose glued bottoms whole. This time it went really well. Milled the old strip so I could see the joint. The glue was probably carpenter's glue and although it sat hard it reacted to heat and water.

All the ribs inside were in mahogany (lid, side and bottom were also in the same wood), it seems that he did not like spruce! The ribbing was different with a slight fan-bracing below the sound hole with a stable plate in maple. The sparse ribbing was probably the main reason why the lid had cracked, you should tie the lid across the fibers with ribs and not leave large surfaces without reinforcement.

Reinforced the neck block which was clear with some extra pieces of wood and changed the top rib and reinforcements next to the sound hole to an A frame, also glued a few strips of spruce across the fibers on the lid to avoid new cracks.

The neck was pulled loose, which proved unnecessary as it was only to glue it back to get the correct string height. The dove tail in the neck foot was completely straight which meant that you had to pull it up all the way before it loosened. The grip board was thick and in a greenish very hard wood (Lignum vitae?) With a thin rosewood veneer on top. Neck in solid rosewood, head mahogany.

The ribbons / rods along the bottom loosened some of the heat as I heated the neck, got warm and tightened properly to bring them down to the right height again. If you want to loosen the neck of one of these, you should only heat in the joint itself (heat the skillet on an iron) and not the straps.

Obtained maple veneer in a roll and cut to 6 just wide bindings around the bottom, needed three layers to build the strip. Milled the trench and covered it with a happy pack. Then glued all three layers together with warm skin glue in the trench to give the strip its shape. The joy pack allowed me to loosen the glued strip, make it smoother and finally glue the strips in place. A way to make a mold without having to heat and mold wood. Not as good and about the same job as using solid wood moldings.

Got the crown peaks on the round rods, strung on with Newtone Masterclass 0.11. The bands in the form of round bars worked, but any extra job with that solution is hardly worth the trouble. Possibly good on a Django guitar where you want the hardest possible attack and maximum volume, the large mass in the bands compared to regular bands should give better attack when playing with a thick pitch.

An odd detail was that the string pins leaned forward (!) In the string pins. Has failed to figure out why.

The back was probably most strange. No ribs were needed, but it was also rather "dead". Almost no difference in the sound whether you let the bottom rest against the stomach or not.

The guitar was oiled and I put on a couple of thin turns of True Oil to look good for the new strip and repairs. It went blank.

It is a large guitar, 105 cm long, the lid 42 cm at the widest place and the coffin is almost 10 cm wide. The bulan on the back is about 2 cm high. The case that came with the guitar (in the brown 1970s hard plastic) was specially made with an extra bulge for the bottom 🙂

After three days of vibration, it opened up and actually sounds really good. Comfortable to play on. Sounds a bit like a really good archtop guitar, not excessive bass, hard attack and good volume. But at the same time a little sound from a fixed stable. The very thin and flat neck was a bit square, but worked well to play on. I mostly complain that it does not match the chords, but no guitar that does not have a saddle tuning does.

There might not be much to take away from this, but it was fun to see something different! 🙂


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