R.S. Williams Guitar Pre-1928 Parlor....anyone know of these?

Discussion in 'Restoration & Repair' started by Murkar, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Murkar

    Murkar Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Messages:
    579
    Likes Received:
    294
    So I posted this over at MLP, but got no response. I'm assuming most people have never seen one of these before. The guitar I want to know about was made in Toronto; it was made some time before 1928 as far as I can tell by the R.S. Williams Piano Company. There are no other indications as to who made this other than the soundhole stamp. I dropped a video camera inside the body yesterday to search for any clues about who made this and when - the soundhole stamp is the only thing anywhere inside the body that gives anything away.

    EDIT: After more research, it turns out this guitar could have been made anywhere between 1890 and 1928. Since 1928 was the last year the business was named "R.S. Williams & Sons Co., Toronto", it had to have been produced before then. I figured it was made in the 1920s but apparently it might be much older than that.

    Possibly made by a Luthier named Arthur Hensel, although this doesn't look like his usual work (and this guitar is from an earlier time than most of his guitars that remain around). If anyone knows more about these guitars please let me know! These normally go for around $500, depending on condition and rareness (however this guitar looks to be a lot nicer and more well made than most, and also more rare as far as I can tell).

    You won't find much on these guitars on the internet - hence why I'm asking here if anyone knows about these. I've been looking for days and not found a single guitar that looks remotely like this (it actually looks a lot like an early 1920s Washburn, but this one was made in Toronto by the R.S. Williams Piano Company, not made in the US). I know that the company had at least two known Luthiers working for them, so it's possible it was made by someone else (this doesn't look like a Hensel Guitar, and the other guitar maker there made resonators mostly; they had 250 employees so they likely had three guitar builders there or more).

    It's in need of a neck reset unfortunately, can't be avoided - it has no truss rod, and the neck has obviously moved over the past 100 years since this was made. I'll be fixing up the saddle as well, and maybe the nut (depending how it plays after the action is fixed). The tuners don't function well so I'll be cleaning them up, and I'll replace them if I can't get them to tune well (although I'd prefer to keep it all original if I can). There's also a small crack in the soundboard that needs to be stabilized.

    Anyways...onto the guitar! It's solid mahogany (back and sides, as well as the neck), probably honduran. The bridge and fretboard are ebony, and it has mother of pearl inlays. The headplate is brazillian.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
  2. Mr. Bill

    Mr. Bill New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2016
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes I picked up a Resonator version of one of these relics about 5 years back at a flea market for $100. Actually It has held together quite remarkably over the years considering it's age. The brass bridge plain and the tuning keys needed to be replaced but it is very playable in the dobro tuning. I believe the body is constructed in a 3 ply mahogany and the lacquer finish is still holding. The sound is tame and tight. I since gave it to my retired brother in law who has been working it to the bone...
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Adam

    Adam Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2013
    Messages:
    1,511
    Likes Received:
    884
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    For how old that thing is, it looks to be in amazing shape.
     
    fumblefinger likes this.
  4. CatonGuitars

    CatonGuitars Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2016
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Chicago IL
    This thing looks great. I love these old peanuts! That top looks like its in great shape too. We had one of these laying around the shop for a long time until it was "borrowed" forever. The one we had looked nearly identical, but was made here in Chicago around 1920 and was in much worse shape than this, but man it sounded killer. You just cant build that sound. Its like guitars have to pay their dues until the universe is like, ok you can sound like that now. Nice find
     
  5. Calvert Lewis

    Calvert Lewis New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2016
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi gentlemen! I also have an old R.S. Williams and Sons parlor guitar! It's marked as a Bellevue, made for the Bellevue Collage of Music! And I too am looking for any info I can get on it! It's not as fancy as yours but, still pretty cool I think!
    I'll try to attach some pictures!
    Thanks
    Cal
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Calvert Lewis

    Calvert Lewis New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2016
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here's a picture of the top of the head stock which has a number stamped into it! Not sure if it's a serial# on one put on by the collage, any ideas?
    Thanks again
    Cal
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Murkar

    Murkar Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Messages:
    579
    Likes Received:
    294
    Nice! Wasn't sure Id ever see another of these. I haven't been able to find much more on these than I already knew unfortunately. I'll have to dig up the stuff I found again but it's possible yours is one made by Arthur Hensel, since it's of a different style.

    Forgot to mention, what I did find out is that mine's almost certainly NOT a Hensel even though it's from tge company where he worked. The 12th fret music store in Toronto has seen a few of these and they were quite helpful in trying to identify it.
     
  8. Calvert Lewis

    Calvert Lewis New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2016
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    What does the back of your head stock look like where it meets the neck? Does it have a flat spot and a decal of a maple leaf?
     
  9. Murkar

    Murkar Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Messages:
    579
    Likes Received:
    294
    Mmmm definitely not....does yours?? That's pretty cool but the back of my peghead is quite plain. No sign of a maple leaf...just a regular old slotted peghead
     
  10. Calvert Lewis

    Calvert Lewis New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2016
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes it does! Here's a picture of it! IMG_20160927_064616.jpg IMG_20160927_064616.jpg IMG_20160927_064616.jpg
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice