GUITAR BY LOUIS PANORMO, LONDON, CA. 1828
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF INSTRUMENT:
The present instrument is one of Louis Panormo’s maple bodied guitars and the date of 1828 is attributed because of certain stylistic elements which indicate a date before 1830 and after 1825. These elements include the cutting and fitting of the tentelones, the structure of the bridge and the light-weight construction of the head in comparison with later models.
From 1822 onward, Panormo built two basic models – one with rosewood back and sides and a fan-braced belly and the other, with maple back and sides and a ladder-braced belly. Both models were built in the same workshop and both were built in simpler and more expensive versions.
It is widely held that the rosewood, fan-braced model is the more expensive version, but the facts seem to speak against this, since the same range of decorative details is evident on both models. These details would have influenced the price, which, as Panormo states on his labels, ranged from 2 – 15 Guineas. The simplest guitars were made without pearl inlay, with simple purflings and pegs rather than machine tuners.
The top of the range guitars have a border of diamond shaped pearl lozenges around the edge and soundhole and inlaid pearl on the bridge finials. This configuration may be found on both maple and rosewood instruments, as may all the lesser gradations of decoration.
For this reason it may be more correct to say that Panormo build a French and a Spanish model with a series of decorative configurations more or less common to both models.
The current instrument is a “next to top of range” French style Panormo with pearl lozenges around the soundhole and pearl inlaid bridge.
HISTORY OF OWNERSHIP:
This guitar was sold in London in 1974 by the English collector and dealer, Tony Bingham, to Bruce Woodley. At the time the guitar was missing its label, but was otherwise original and playable. It remained in the collection of Bruce Woodley until damaged by floodwaters in January 2010.
CONDITION ON RECEIPT:
The guitar was brought to me in its case a few days after suffering water damage, to be assessed for insurance purposes.
All parts of the guitar were affected by flood waters and required drying and cleaning to stabilise them.
Given the excellent condition of both wood and varnish after drying, a conservation approach was undertaken including full reassembly of the guitar, to stabilise all parts and glue joints.
At the same time it was decided to remove some crude repairs from the belly and sides to return the guitar to its original condition. All parts are original, down to the screw-on strap button and the back buttons, found on the more expensive models.
The parts were subsequently cleaned and dried in my workshop to assess their condition once dried.
The condition of the wood and other parts, as well as the varnish, was considered good enough to warrant reassembly.
The restoration process involved replacing every glue joint in the instrument and completely re-assembling the original parts following an order similar to the instrument’s original construction. The photos that accompany this report show the processes involved in reassembly. The final result is a fully playable instrument in remarkably good condition for its age.
The restoration process produced many insights into Panormo’s construction methods and can be followed using the full set of photos provided on the accompanying disc.
CONDITION FOLLOWING RESTORATION
The guitar is in fully playable condition following the restoration and has a very good full tone, with the slightly dryer sound, characteristic of Panormo’s French model. Projection is excellent and the instrument is very stable. Panormo’s trademark golden oil varnish has survived the moisture virtually unaffected.
The original label is missing and a facsimile of the “Panormo fecit” labels used on the French model has been inserted [clearly indicated inside the guitar as a facsimile].
MATERIALS USED IN RESTORATION
All gluing was done with hide glue. All retouching is alcohol soluble. New wood inserted beneath bridge to repair damaged bridge pin holes. New wood inserted next to bottom block to replace missing purfling ledge.
RECOMMENDATIONIONS FOR STORAGE, STRINGING AND PITCH
If the guitar is to be stored without playing for longer than 1 month, drop pitch by 1 octave for storage.
Idea humidity range for the guitar is 40 – 65%RH.
Recommended stringing is as follows: e’: 0.62 gut; b’: 0.76 gut; g: 0.94 gut(high twist); d: Pyramid wound nylon 1412; g: Pyramid wound nylon 1424; E: Pyramid wound nylon 1432. The guitar should be tuned a half-tone below modern pitch; i.e.: a’ = 415Hz.
Condition on arrival
Belly and back before pressing
A Box of Bits – all dried out
Front and Back before after reassembly
Photo during restoration of the neck assembly
The original bridge during restoration
The Spanish-style heel during reassembly of the sides
Details of tentelones, inlay and purfling of the belly.
Fitting of original fretboard and frets.
The facsimile label and explanation.
Re-gluing of original bridge.
The Completed Restoration.