Small Mercies in Hard Times

Yet again Jack gets over the wire in time –

Just as a change from all the heavy stuff of late, here’s something completely different.

About ten years ago I had a hankering for a small guitar, mainly because I was traveling back and forward to Scotland and still gigging over there and I wanted one that would go in the overhead locker in the plane.

So I did some research and found a guy in California who dredged the auctions and found parlor guitars that he then put up for sale. He went by the name of Fat Dog! He put up pictures of what he had, so I took a chance and sent him a check for one that looked interesting.

It was a Lyon and Healy Lakeside made in 1916, and what caught my eye was that the back and sides were made from oak. Very unusual! It had originally sold for $6 via a Sears Roebuck catalogue.

l&H front

When it eventually arrived it was playable, but only just. Back in those days many guitars had ‘ladder bracing’ inside which encouraged a split along the top and this one was no exception. But it had a wonderful sound and a very playable neck. Over a few years it began to split more and the neck developed problems too. So, through the wonders of networking I sent it through a series of hands to a wonderful luthier in Nashville called Chris Bozung to be completely restored. It took him a year between other jobs but when it came back I was astonished.

He hadn’t attempted to make it like new, but simply to fix everything, including many things I’d not noticed. So it looked just as it had originally come to me but solid and easily playable.

I’ve had many guitars over the years and my workhorse for a long time has been my Schoenberg Soloist made by Dana Bourgeois, but the Lyon and Healy has taken over. For a small instrument it has a big sound and my elderly fingers can manage the chords more easily.

I don’t consider myself much of a guitarist, really only using it to accompany songs mostly, but there’s something about the relationship between the player and the instrument that’s very special.

The irony is that I ended up borrowing guitars when I traveled to Scotland, so the wee Lyon and Healy has never had to go in the overhead locker!


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