I have some history with this little guitar. Back in 2010, my friend Liz sent me a link with a message: "Have you seen this cool old guitar on eBay?" I wrote back, "Yeah, I just bought it."
It wasn't in great shape when it arrived:
Along with the back coming off and the finish damaged, there were pieces rattling around inside it and other parts were missing.
With the help of the legendary Frank Ford and the fine folks at his repair forum I learned that this instrument was made in the 1920's, and that this meant it was put together with hide glue and finished with shellac. Hide glue holds wood together very well and releases with heat and moisture. So, it was easy to take it apart and glue it back together:
Shellac protects wood really well and dissolves in alcohol, so it is easy to repair a shellac finish by wiping some new shellac over it:
So, after some glue, some shellac, and replacing a few missing parts, I had a nice playable guitar -- so nice that my friend Liz offered to buy it from me, and I sold it to her. She has enjoyed it and been a faithful custodian for the past five years.
Lately, she has become a fan of the ukulele and pony banjo, which made me suspect that this old guitar was not getting much playing time. So, I offered to buy it back from her. This week, we sealed the deal when I handed her a check and we sat down and played and sang "Milwaukee Blues" and "Blue Mountain Lake," she with her little, nylon-string banjo, and I with my guitar.