To create the Authentic Series, we have painstakingly researched and copied, to the finest detail, every aspect of the original Weissenborns and the way in which they were built. This has taken us a number of years to perfect and has involved looking in detail at a high number of original Weissenborns, from the 1920’s era as well as the later 1930’s models. Unravelling the history of these instruments has been a real passion and we have built many prototypes along our journey before being confident we had every detail correct and historically accurate.
Below is a quick look into some of the details of the building process. This is exactly how the original Weissenborns would have been built.
The Selected Koa is cut in to sets from the billet and book-matched. The top and back are then planed by hand to get a seamless joint and then joined using hide glue. We use hide glue exclusively throughout the whole build process as is the case for all of the guitars built in the Anderwood Custom Shop. At this stage the tops, backs and sides are cut to shape.
The tops are then thicknessed to approximately 1/8 inch. This is not the finished thickness, but allows the rosettes (whether it the 3 Holly rings of the style 1 or the Holly and Rosewood marqueterie with Holly perflin and Holly ring of the Styles 2-4) to be cut and inlayed, and the sound holes cut. You’ll find that on original instruments of this era the rosette lines up to the last fret markers along the board.
All the components of our Authentic Series are cut and shaped from timber in our custom shop. The only part of the guitar outsourced is the hardware, being the replica Waveley machine heads, (Henkes & Blazer “Germany”) bushings, rolled aluminium saddle (Tony Francis Instruments “New Zealand”) and hand-turned Ivoriod bridge and end pins (Henkes & Blazer “Germany”). All the specifications for these parts have been taken from original Instruments and copied exactly.
The next stage is to cut the bracings, end block and linings. For these Red Spruce is used. This is a critical part of getting the guitars perfect in both look and feel to an original, but also in creating that beautiful Weissenborn tone and sustain. By cutting the bracings to the exact same size as Weissenborn, and even going into the details of the gap between each kerf cut, its depth and angle, and concentrating on the smallest of details, we can capture the magic of the originals.
As with the originals, Rock Maple is used for the bridge plate, then cut to size and shaped using a template taken from a circa 1927 instrument. This iconic design termed ‘Christmas Tree’ by Tom Noe was the mainstay for all instruments built during and after 1927.
Once the sides have been thicknessed to the correct size, bent to shape and left in the mould to settle, they can then be joined to the end block and the Koa inlay is cut in to the base. On the Style 1 this was just a plain piece of Koa, whereas on the Styles 2-4 this Koa is edged by Maple and Rosewood perflin. Cutting the inlay into the block slightly helps to avoid any future problems and strengthens the instrument. This is where the Ivoriod end pin will end up.
The hand cut linings are then glued on to the sides ready for the top to go on next.
With the rosettes in, the top can be thicknessed again and the Bridge plate and bracings glued into position. All details for this have been measured, and cross referenced from other Weissenborns from the same period and then templated, so that we get the exact same perfect results each time. Weissenborn used square bracings, and unlike modern building practices, no curve is put onto the bracing. The curve comes from the gluing mould, the hide glue and the dryness of the woods and humidity. Getting the perfect arch for both the top and back took time and patience, but once the gluing mould had the correct arch, both cross and lengthways, and the conditions recorded, we can guarantee the consistent and historically correct results for every instrument.
The same technique is used for the back arch and bracing pattern. It’s worth pointing out that strips of Koa were used for the back cross banding as well as the cross banding on the top and sound hole reinforcement strips. For the branding plate Holly was used to show up the original brand that measured 1.3/8 inch by 1/2 inch high.
It’s at this stage the headstock would be cut to size and shape from one solid piece of Koa, and glued into the sides ready for the top to go on.
Another point worth noting at this stage is the technique Weissenborn used when attaching the top and back. Instead of cutting slits into the linings for the bracings to sit, he would crush the very tip of the scallop at the end of the bracing into the lining.
With the top going on first, it’s the act of the back going on that really determines the final playability of the Weissenborn and unlocks the secrets of the sonic properties of the original instruments that make them so special.
We can now move on to the binding on the instrument body. Binding featured on the Style 2-4 from the Style 2’s Black phenolic binding to the iconic Style 3 and 4’s “Rope” Marqueterie. For this binding we again turn to the Holly for its brilliant white and the Rosewood for contrast as Weissenborn himself did. For the Marquetry around the body, a stained black Maple purfling of 0.020inch was used as a backing for the Holly, and Rosewood which was cut at 3/32 by 1/8 inch at an angle of 45 degrees. On the Style 4 this binding is extended around the top side of the headstock as well.
The fretboard is cut from one piece of Koa. For the fret markers Holly is again used for its bright white appearance. For inlays Abalone was Weissenborn’s choice for this era, but not the really coloured Abalone you associate with modern guitars. The Abalone used in the original instruments had little flicks of green and subtle shades of red. For the round dots ¼ inch was used and on the Style 2 and 3 a Diamond on the 12th fret, measuring 1.1/8 by 6/16 inch whilst the Style 4 also included a half diamond on the 1st fret measuring 7/8 by 7/16 inch.
In recreating the 5.5inch bridge from this period, our bridge is cut from a piece of Rock Maple and, as in all cases of the build templates we use for our Authentic Series, measurements have be taken and cross referenced from a number of instruments from the same era in our collection. Once shaped and sanded, the bridge is then ebonised and stained black, as is historically correct for this period. The Abalone dot used in the bridge is slightly larger than the dots used on the fret board at 9/32 inch.
The finishing on the original Weissenborns was an art form in itself. Weissenborns Nitrocellulose finishes were prefect, even mirror like. Hermann didn't have access to the kind of grain fillers commonally used by the builders of today. His technique came down to the long curing times of the lacquer before polishing and attention to detail when applying the lacquer to the large open grain of the Koa wood, thus reducing "shrink back" over time. Our hand-rubbed nitrocellulose finished will stand the test of time in the same way as the original guitars. Our attention to detail in all matters recreating these beautiful instruments is second to none and every effort has been made to guarantee our Authentic Weissenborn Series is a 100% true representation of the Originals in look, feel, tone and historically accurate timbers and build.