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woensdag 2 juli 2008

Nicolas Bonafon around 1840

The fully restored Nicolas Bonafon guitar.
It has all the details of a mid 19th century guitar.
In my opinion most parts aren't original anymore .
It was quite common to modernize older instruments.
E.g. the hightened fingerboard and the head.
"Die Geigen- und Lautenmacher vom Mittelalter
bis zur Gegenwart" is a very useful Dictionnary.
You can download it but it is not a very easy
task. It shows the following text:
Bonafon, Nicolas. — Paris. 18. Jahrhundert Eine Viola,
die dem Aussehen nach dem Anfange des 18.
oder Ende des 17. Jahrhunderts angehört haben dürfte,
trug den Zettel : Abb. 49.

Here's the restored Bonafon guitar with it's unfinished
soundboard. I leave it this way because I'm looking for 
someone who has a good solution in treating the marks 
that has been left by wood insects. The guitar has been 
gamma radiused so there aren't any living insects left, 
hopefully! Regarding the age of this guitar: Suspects 
are that the fingerboard mounted up to the soundhole is 
not original. The Dictionnary "Vanne" mentions Bonafon 
as a Paris based luthier. A pochette (travel violin) is 
known to be made with the following label:
Nicolas Bonafon (sic) Luthier à Paris 1799
V. Etiquette n° 62."

For the back and sides I used the wood from
another older guitar that was of little value.
The orange colour I obtained with a staining process.

A close look at the bridge where I restored the
outer parts and even made new dots with ivory
inlays to have it close to it's original condition.
Even the soundboard is not free from wood
insect traces. Yet a wonderful sound!

The back of the head with the EON Tuners
with ebony tuning knobs. The design of this head
resembles that of some René Lacote guitars as well
as the later produced Thibouville Lamy instruments 
(around 1860) It is clearly visible that the head is not 
exactly centered with the neck. Suspects are that the 
head with these later tuners is an addition as well.

A nice picture of the sides that shows the uneven
depth of the soundbox along this instrument.

Here's the Bonafon guitar in its authentic situation.
The bridge ends have disappeared. The fingerboard
is in bad shape.The sides and back are too far gone
as a result from wood insects. Though this guitar 
was not that expensive, I decided to bring it back to 
life and in a playable condition. It was worth all that 
trouble! A nice warm and clear tone with remarkable
sustain comes from this instrument. Tonecolour and 
balance between the different strings proves to be 
absolutely astonishing.

On this picture you can see I removed the fingerboard
and back allready. I presumed the sides could be used
again but that would have been a lost case.

The back of this guitar also shows the holes
made by wood insects. The back was also
damaged too far especially on the ends.
It was a one piece back as can be seen
on other pictures I've included.

The original label on the new two piece back.
The wood came from an old german guitar
that was furthermore of little value.

The well known EON mechanics were fitted on
this instrument. Just by selling these ones I would
have all my investments in this guitar back! Note 
that the tuners appear to be mounted the wrong way.
In fact, no: This is the way these tuners work the
proper way. Compare this to the same tuners on 
the Thibouville Lamy guitar also on this site.

Again the old situation: The sides just broke off with
little effort. Also can be concluded that the insects
didn't "attack"  the guitar from the inside as the inner
soundboard was free from the small holes they cause.

Here are the newly made sides.
I bowed them with the soundboard plantilla as a model.
The original back that looked much better than it really was.
Still beautiful to look at as it has a fine grained and striped
piece of maple. (second picture)

To reassure people who really want to
stay close to the original. The poorly
conditioned inner part! This guitar would 
have ended as garbage and another reason is 
that there are numerousguitars of this age 
still in existance!

The back finished with the new wood parts.
The struts are the original ones but have been wettened
and put into a micro wave oven to kill possibly
remained wood insects. This procedure can be
done with all smaller parts but not metal!

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