Restored Schwarzer Form A, model 27

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DanSymonds
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:19 pm

Restored Schwarzer Form A, model 27

Post by DanSymonds » Tue Aug 04, 2015 4:10 pm

I recently acquired a probable model 27 Schwarzer zither that highlights the very fine craftsmanship that came from the Schwarzer workshops. Unfortunately it required quite a bit of restoration. The instrument is serial numbeer 4049, indicating it was built in the mid 1890's. It is 21 3/4" by 11 1/4"; scale length 16 1/4". It is constructed of tight pattern, violin grade tiger maple front and back veneered over quarter sawn spruce, stained a bright red-brown. It has tulipwood veneered sides; mahogany fretboard stained black and mahogany bridges. All edges have celluloid binding. The purfiling is particularly fine, composed of 6 lines less than 1/32 arranged to give a light and dark band. Also particularly fine is the engraved very irridescent green pearl inlays. (See photos 1,2
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Restoration required repair of a large crack in the soundboard which was warped, had come off its braces, and separated as much as 1/8". This required repositioning the soundboard with a gluing frame and gluing blocks to the cross braces as well as a longitudinal strut. In addition, cleats (a wooden patch about 1" in rhomboidal shape, 1/16" thick) had to be applied to stabilize this (and several other cracks). For those interested, an old luthier's trick is to drill a hole in the cleat and string a wire through the cleat; the wire has a washer behind it and the wire is pulled through the crack to glue the cleat in place (see photo showing the clamping and string cleat[attachment=0]Sch4.3.jpg]). Then, a splice of spruce 1/8" wide had to be inserted, followed by veneer and then endless applications of colored shellac drop by drop, to fill and level the crack. ( A great deal of work!) Other restoration challenges including making a new nut-bridge (from Brazilian cherry), restoring the machine buttons (which were of ivory) and restoring the badly washboarded varnish. The instrument was french polished with waterwhite instrument grade shellac with copra resin. As the used car salemen say, it was previously "much loved"; the previous owner had a tremendous bite wearing 1/32" deep stops in the fingerboard! These had to be filled and the fretboard restained and oiled. On the plus side, the instrument retained all its purfiling and inlay; the fretboard was sound without cracks. Sadly, the case (and Schwarzer casework was particularly high class) went MIA. I hope to ilustrate the case made for the instrument soon. The resulting strung instrument has a lovely clear tone very bright, and very easy action. It is not loud like the modern zithers but well suited to small rooms. The higher positions particulary give nice tone for an instrument with such short scale. All in all I think the restoration work worthwhile.
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DanSymonds
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:19 pm

Re: Restored Schwarzer Form A, model 27

Post by DanSymonds » Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:06 pm

Adding a couple more pictures, to make the restoration description perhaps a little clearer.
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Rudy Mueller
Posts: 437
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: Restored Schwarzer Form A, model 27

Post by Rudy Mueller » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:04 am

WOW!!!! Congratulations.

Rudi

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