Look at this
1955 Stella Tenor

© Frank Ford, 1999; Photos by FF

I've included this really basic guitar in the museum just to show a few interesting economy features. Check out the painted finish. The binding is painted on, as is the peghead logo. The body has a faux figured grain paint job, not too badly done, except that the flamed figure runs lengthwise instead of across the face and back. The bridge is simply screwed to the top with upholstery style screw heads showing. The fingerboard and bridge are made of black dyed maple. All in the name of economy, to be sure.

But the top, back and sides are made of solid hardwood. A perfect example of what killed the American low priced guitar industry. American manufacturers kept on building cheap instruments using solid wood construction and poor design and workmanship. Meanwhile the Japanese companies made plywood guitars with lighter tops and more delicate bracing, and better attention to workmanship. I suppose the moral of that story is that you're better off using cheap materials and a good design.

Please click the small image

The hardwood top of this guitar is so hard and dense that it sounds quite weak. A plywood top made of lighter species would have made this instrument much more responsive.

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