Restorations

Oahu Slide Guitar Restoration Circa 1940s

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My first eBay purchase was this 1940s circa Oahu square neck slide guitar. They where advertised by the Oahu Publishing Company in magazines all over the USA in the mid 1940s. They come with a unique case, tone bar music and instructions on how to play. They are made from Birch which is a poor man’s Maple with a pearwood fingerboard, early waverly slot head tuners and a very unique alloy bridge which was bolted on. The neck was also Birch and it had a dovetail neck joint. There where many thousands of these made but not many stayed together as the A open tunings reccomended in the instructions makes for a hugh tension on the top of the guitar. When I bought this one it was $147 plus $38 post from the USA. It had a crack on the top from the bridge to the tail block but it did not look too bad and I thought it would be fixable. I played it for years and eventually the crack opened right up and the guitar collapsed.

The restoration was a big job and I learnt many things along the way. It is much easier to build a new guitar than restore an oldie without causing more damage. I started with removing the top with a hairdryer and a knife that went well. When it came to removing the fingerboard that was a different challange all thgether. The Pearwood was very soft and I ended up making a mess of the fingerboard so decided to continue and replace the fingerboard. Once the top was off I found some more cracks one on the top upper bout and the others were where the sides meet the neck. These where kleated with some spruce patches and worked a treat especially the big lower bout crack repair. Some of the top bracing had become unglued and one back brace. I ended up removing all the top bracing and started again only this time to add strength used an A frame bracing pattern. The single back brace was reglued and I chose a ebony fingerboard also to add extra strength. It was fretted, dot inlay installed and the top of the board I created a satin finish so it matched the patina of the guitar. Ebony binding was fitted to tidy up the top and back joins which looks good. The bridge was alloy and had some hugh nuts and washers used to bolt it on. I felt it added far too much weight so I made a bridge patch from some perpex and that solved the weight issue. I love the guitar it is tuned to open D which is much more comfortable than open A like it used to be tuned to. I bet George, as I call him feels much better these days and should last another fifty years.