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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.

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 of 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 numerous
guitars 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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