Arthur Robb
Luthier
art@art-robb.co.uk
0044 (0)1666-822945
07984-892570

Restorations of Guitars by Louis Panormo

Twenty-two Louis Panormo guitars have been restored in my workshop and a twenty-third, made in 1836, is under way.

Louis Panormo, 1784-1862, had a workshop in Bloomsbury, London. Many guitars were made, it may even have been a small factory. Today, his guitars are much sought after and often restored with the intention being used. They have a wonderful tone and are a delight to play.

Some earlier Panormos have a small label which reads "Panormo Fecit". They have cross bracing under the soundboard and are smaller than later examples. Two guitars I have restored are of this type, an 1827 and an 1831. Other guitars have a larger label which reads "Louis Panormo, The only maker of Guitars in the Spanish Style". These guitars are larger and have some type of fan bracing.

The address is variously given as 40 or 46 High Street, Bloomsbury. This street is, I believe, now known as St. Giles High Street, and the address is very near to Centerpoint. The 1849 guitars have the labels altered by hand to read 31 High Street Bloomsbury.

James Westbrook, of the Brighton based Guitar Museum, has done a PhD on the Panormo guitar and the November 2013 issue of Early Music has an article by James about this work. His thesis will be published as a book.

PANORMO RESTORATIONS BY YEAR OF MANUFACTURE

Current Panormo Restoration
1836
Number 3098

A guitar, given to a charity shop in the Cotswolds has come to the workshop for restoration and to find a new owner.

1836 Panormo 1836 Panormo 1836 Panormo

Set up as a steel string slide guitar, the first jobs were to remove the steel strings, the oversize nut and the hand-made aluminium string holder.

1836 Panormo

The lovely Baker tuning machines were removed and cleaned.

1836 Panormo 1836 Panormo

The back is not well attached to the body and shows signs of having been previously removed. It was relatively easy to remove.

1836 Panormo

With the back removed a good photo of the label is possible, 1836.

1836 Panormo 1836 Panormo 1836 Panormo

Previous repairs are revealed inside the guitar. On the left, near to the sound hole, parchment patches reinforce a glued up crack. Centre, a thick paper sheet reinforces a large area. On the right, two wood patches were pulled into the guitar through the sound hole using cotton. All these repairs would have been done through the sound hole.

1836 Panormo

Straightening the back and gluing up loose bars.

1836 Panormo 1836 Panormo

Home-made clamps close a very long split in the side and the area is reinforced with linen.

1836 Panormo 1836 Panormo

Using go-poles to reinforce soundboard splits and place thin hardwood pieces where the bridge pins fit.

1836 Panormo

The original glue for attaching the back needs to be removed. Fortunately, the old hide glue softens with water. The applied cotton is wet. Later the glue is easily removed with a warm cloth.

Panormo Links

Giulio Tampalini plays Fernando Sor on an 1849 Panormo (not 1860 as stated in the video),
which is the first 1849 restoration linked above.
Two Guitarists playing 19th century music on Panormos.
Technical drawing of an c. 1845 Panormo in the Edinburgh University Collection of Historical Musical Instruments. The plan number is 2014. The website is never easy to use and a phone call may be necessary.
How Martin Guitars of the 19th century were influenced by the guitars of Louis Panormo.
There are some factual errors in this article but the photos of Martin and Panormo guitars are interesting.