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Thread: Guitar Info Sought

  1. #1
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    Default Guitar Info Sought

    Since we have several guitar enthusiasts around I wonder if anyone has info on the old Bruno line? We have a Bruno that belonged to my wife's great uncle (by marriage) who played it on cruise ships running between San Francisco and Honolulu back in the late '30s. Years ago I found a site that dated it to the early to mid '30s, but it'd be nice to figure out which lutherie it might have been made in. We have a couple of other fun instruments I'll get piccies of, too.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    https://www.guitar-list.com/brands/bruno-and-sons

    BRUNO (& SONS)
    Parent brand: KAMAN MUSIC CORPORATION
    product types: banjos mandolins ukuleles acoustic guitars bass guitar classical guitars electric guitars

    Information: An instrument importer and dealer, Charles Bruno immigrated from Germany to Macon, Georgia in 1832. In 1834, Bruno moved to New York where he probably worked as a clerk or salesman for several years before being listed as a bookseller in 1837. In 1838 Bruno formed a partnership with Christian F. Martin. His book shop on Fulton Street most likely served as a retail outlet for Martin's guitars. When Bruno & Martin dissolved their partnership in 1839, Bruno left New York for several years.

    On his return to New York Bruno established the partnership Bruno & Cargill from 1851 to 1853, and then Bruno, Weissenborn and Company with Herman W. Weissenborn (this was not the designer of the Weissenborn lap steel guitar - that was Hermann C. Weissenborn) 1854 to 1857.

    Bruno formed the sucessful Bruno & Son partnership with his son Charles Bruno Junior. Charles Bruno Senior died in 1884 leaving his son to run the business.

    Just before noon on April 17th 1912, despondent because of his prolonged ill-health, Charles Bruno Junior committed suicide by a shot through the right temple. His body was found in a lavatory on the second floor of his factory at 356 Broadway. Bruno was aged 67 at the time, a very wealthy widower with two sons who were also involved in the business.

    Charles Bruno's 19th century firm sold all types of instruments but its not known how many were actually manufactured rather than just branded by the company. By the 1960s there was a wide range of brand names distributed by Bruno including: Carlos, Castilla, Conqueror, Hikari, Lyra, Maxitone, Trump and Ventura.

    At some point C. Bruno & Sons was acquired by the Kaman Corporation.

    Sources:
    New York Times, April 18, 1912.
    Musical instrument makers of New York: a directory of eighteenth and nineteenth century urban craftsmen. Nancy Groce. Pendragon Press. 1991
    Last edited by Old Dryfoot; 02-27-2021 at 08:44 PM. Reason: formatting

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    How does it play? What type? Always keen to learn of brands I don't know about. Photos please!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    From the info in post #2 - this sounds like a "Stencil" - Stencils are instruments badged for a retailer or distributor but where the name on the instrument has no relationship with the actual maker...

    This is a common practice to this day and was commonplace in the 1930s - sometimes there are gems to be found - which is why Martin's "how does it play?" is a great place to start.

    Here is a start to the rabbit warren that is the saxophone stencil hunt https://bassic-sax.info/version5/vin...stencil-saxes/


    good luck in the search.
    Last edited by P.I. Stazzer-Newt; 02-28-2021 at 04:56 AM.
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    Thanks all...the entire Bruno line are all "Stencils" in that Bruno contracted with Martin, Washburn and Gibson (in the US) and several luthiers in Europe to supply instruments. Mine (#17611) has no indicator on the source and I suspect none of them do, but there are some signature details in the peghead, neck detailing and ribbing that I hope might identify the actual maker. The tone is lovely but the embrasure is a little off. When I dragged it out of my father-in-law's attic it was solid dust, was missing a couple of string pegs and had a couple of bad cracks that I've and repaired by decent luthiers. I first strung it up with nylon and am going back to Martin low tension steel as that's what was used on it originally. I have an old Guild MkIV for classical stuff.

    Here's Bruno (sorry if the pics come out sideways)
    IMG_6285.jpg
    IMG_6287.jpg

    He had a hard life as a cruise line instrument. Herman (Kaikanahale) went on to be a bit of a real estate mogul in San Francisco after WWII and the instruments languished. But back to Bruno...the peghead is different from both the documented Martins and Washburns I've seen and has the 1930's vintage "Bruno & Sons stamp:
    IMG_6286.jpg
    IMG_6290.jpg

    ...and the label is purely 1930. I can't find the website I used to date it any longer, so I'm hoping someone here might be familiar since we have so many guitarists
    IMG_6288.jpg

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    Is it a parlour size? The fretboard looks like its ebony. Nice looking guitar. I have an old parlour guitar i have strung for nashville tuning. ( the high strings of a 12 string guitar )
    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci.

    If war is the answer........... it must be a profoundly stupid question.

    "Freighters on the nod on the surface of the bay, One of these days we're going to sail away"
    Bruce Cockburn

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    Yeah...it's a parlour size with the ebony fretboard, rosewood back and sides and I think a spruce top. Some fairly simple soundhole decoration and seam beading. The frets are pretty badly worn, but it still plays OK. For a small guitar it actually projects fairly well. That's a good thing when someone with some skill is playing it. With me, not so much so
    IMG_6289.jpg

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    Herringbone purfling, square top headstock and a pyramid bridge hints at Martin - but I'm no expert at 30s acoustics.
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    That was my first thought when I saw it, but the other Martin/Bruno's I've seen had a 3 piece laminated neck with the laminations carrying through the peghead. I don't know if that was typical or simply the one I'd seen. That's why I'm hoping someone in the forum had some more knowledge Besides, it's fun to play around with the research. In doing so I've found that the top just has 2 horizontal braces glued in as opposed to fan bracing and the neck has a number of its own:
    IMG_6291.jpg

    IMG_6293.jpg

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    1895 is the Bruno style, 18631 is a serial number.

    That style # isn’t in the 2 Bruno catalogs on archive.org, but someone on the web claims it’s in a 1912 one. The presence of a rosette, bound & purfled top, and back strip put it above plain.
    Last edited by Hugh Conway; 03-01-2021 at 02:31 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Guitar Info Sought

    Thanks Hugh! Now I'm really confused, though. I'd always thought the "1884" was just an established date for that version of "Bruno & Sons" as the company changed names frequently over the years The serial number (shown below) stamped on the top of the peghead (I didn't show that before) is what I tried dating it with before. You've given me a whole new avenue of research! Thanks!
    IMG_6296.jpg

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