GUITAR by LOUIS PANORMO, LONDON, 1833; Serial No: 20030

This unique and unusually large-bodied guitar by Louis Panormo bears a number of similarities to the enharmonic Panormo guitar in the Musical Instrument Museum of the Leipzig University. It retains the most frequently encountered stringlength of 634mm, but is in every other respect, larger that the models normally used by Panormo. It also has an original and very unusual experimental bridge, somewhat similar in concept to the Leipzig Panormo. The pin-bridge is of ebony with a glued, compensating saddle also of ebony.

Dimensions: Stringlength: 631-636mm; Body length: 450mm; max. width: 320mm; depth: 88-105mm

This guitar is made of very fine Brasilian rosewood for the back and sides and has a single-piece(!) belly which is graduated from very fine on the treble to medium to broad grain on the bass side. The neck is cedar and the head, maple. The Baker machine heads are larger than usual and very finely made.

The belly is fan-barred and the lower, screw-on strap button is present. All frets are original (19 in all, instead of the usual 18 frets) and in good condition. The varnish is very good for its age and has not been re-polished or substantially re-touched.

The nut, fingerboard, bridge and pins all appear to be original and in good order. The neck is excellent and the guitar is fully playable following restoration in my workshop.

The tone is as large as the guitar, but very well focused, clean, mellow and powerful with strong projection. This is clearly a very interesting instrument for the collector who specialises in Panormo. It would also be an ideal instrument for a modern classical player who would like to play on a period instrument with minimum disruption to technique.


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These photos were taken during restoration.

The 2 pine reinforcements seen in the upper left-hand photo of the inside of the belly have been removed and replaced with small pine studs. The fan barring is typical of Panormo’s rosewood models of this period.

The damage to the centre strip of the back has been repaired with matching wood. The barring of the back is typical.

The ribs are set into the neck without wedges (lower right - hand photo). It is more common to find the sides set with wedges.

As with many Panormo guitars, the original marking out for the bridge shows the bridge pin holes, drawn as circles. The fan bars at this point were trimmed with a gouge to allow clearance for the bridge pins. This has been done during the building of this guitar, despite the position of the experimental bridge (an original feature) leading to pin holes below the normal position. (lower left-hand photo)

The nut is original as is the screw-on strap button. The construction of this feature is shown in the photos above.

On several instruments made between 1827 and 1833, Panormo experimented with a strongly curved or radiused fretboard. A similar radius is found on the fretboard of the enharmonic guitar in Leipzig MIM and a guitar of 1829 (serial No. 1746) previously restored in my workshop. (see photos of nut, above).


Panormo, Peronett Thompson, the Enharmonic Guitar and the Compensating Saddle

1829, 1829, 1830, 1833.



Joseph Panormo, 1827 original bridge q.v. Thompson bridge above.

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The Leipzig enharmonic guitar by Panormo 1829 – bridge unoriginal – observe angle of bridge.


Panormo Enharmonic leipzig – marks of earlier bridges

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Panormo 1833 – layout of bridge inside belly – compare with above



Panormo 1833 – the fully developed compensating bridge after Peronett Thompson.