Recycling a guitar

A more personal description

Again and again, when I search in my "leftover boxes" during my work, I am delighted when a piece of wood that accompanies me for decades finally finds its place. With many originals from the Renaissance and Baroque, you can see that they did the same. For example, the stripes of the neck ornamentation were not cut from one piece, but were put together from various leftovers.

Today we forget that in those days it was not possible to order everything at the internet. I am sure that in the past there was not any waste, but every piece was processed somehow and somewhere. Today we are no longer in the position of being able to work wastefully because of scarce resources. With this background, the work on the instrument, which I describe in the following, has given me particular pleasure.

Mitzi vorherSome time ago my friend, Günter Kause (Rufus Zuphall), came to me questioning if it would be possible to make one of his guitars playable again. The instrument was built in 1965 by P.J. Jerusalem, a guitar maker from Aachen, Germany, Signatur von Mitzies Vater for his beloved daughter Mitzi. Unfortunately, the sound of the instrument was not as good as it was supposed to be. And so it lay around unattended for a long time. Some years ago Günter was able to buy this instrument from Mitzi Jerusalem's estate. Unfortunately, this change of ownership did not affect the sound, and so I was asked to do something with it, mainly because of the very beautiful Rio Rosewood. First step: giving the project a name:       Mitzi

Mitzies alte DeckeMitzi had a screwed on neck in the Stauffer style where you could adjust the string action. Unfortunately this was lost over the years, only the body remained. The soundboard showed some attempts to improve it. But it had too many cracks and damages, so we decided to replace it. So only the sides and the back remaind to make a new instrument ... not much left over of Mitzi"

Mitzi vorherThe bars on the back, made of beech didn't really appeal to me, so I decided to replace them. This also gave me the opportunity to curve the previously straight back. Patching the existing cracks in the back and gluing a strip to the center joint was of course no problem without a soundboard.

Mitzi vorherI provided the soundboard with a contemporary pattern of bars. After gluing it was necessary to make the new edge inlay on the sides at the soundboard similar to the one at the back. The fresh and new look of the inlay was quickly matched to the aged edge inlay on the floor with a grip into the bag of tricks.

Mitzi vorherThe large cutout for the movable neck would have made a very clumsy foot on the new neck. So I decided to glue in ebony blocks on the right and left. You would see them next to the narrower new neck foot, but I had no better solution. After Mitzi was finished, however, it became apparent that it was not so bad.

Mitzi vorherThe further work on the neck, head and fingerboard then were quite normal everyday guitar building and needs no further mentioning. Since Günter besides playing his own compositions and the general repertoire enthusiastically practices scales, he wished me to make the fingerboard with 22 frets. After some initial reservations from my side, we came to an agreement and now even I like the result. The vintage Landsdorfer's which I painstakenly modernized with ball bearings bring back the charm of the 60ies when it was built first.

Mitzi fertigAfter shellac polishing the sides and back showed their full beauty. I left the age-related imperfections as they were. Our goal was not to create a new glossy instrument, but it should be seen that Mitzi is a Lady - not a teeny. Visually our project resulted in a very beautiful guitar. Whether the effort was worth it soundwise you have to judge yourself. Find some soundfiles below.

If you should also own such an "Mitzi" feel free to contact me. We then can consider together the possibilities and whether it is worth it or not.

Prelude I
Günter Krause-Westen (© Gema)

Heart Choral
Günter Krause-Westen (© Gema)

Cassie's Tune
Günter Krause-Westen (© Gema)