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Author Topic:  Pacific String Master 8
David Matzenik


From:
Cairns, on the Coral Sea
Post  Posted 9 Mar 2019 4:46 pm    
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About 10 years ago, Guy Cundell posted photos of this guitar which he saw in an Adelaide, South Australia, junk shop. It was then in "barn-fresh" condition, as they say.

It now belongs to blues-roots and country artist, Johnny Green, and is on loan to me. I have gone through the guitar and figured out how it works. It appears to be 1940s vintage, but I doubt a guitar this sophisticated could be from the Australian guitar maker of the same name. The guitar is the product of a complex design process, and required a factory versed in bakelite, plastic molding, aluminum stamping, machining, electronics, carpentry and high quality finish work.

There are three semitone settings on two pairs of strings indicating simple triad tunings like A Major. In the flat position, the adjustable strings are tuned first, and then by semitones higher, arriving at A, C#, E. THe strings are suspended below the roller bridge and nut.

One more adjustable string, or independents would have made all the difference. I have it in A6th, which gives me changes to a 4 string C#m, and a 5 string E9th. The bottom string pitches being debateable.

The tuning shifter works well, and the pick up has full rich tone, if not particularly loud. Of course that could be remedied.


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Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 9 Mar 2019 9:05 pm    
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Sound clips? Smile
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post  Posted 9 Mar 2019 9:09 pm    
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Fascinating!
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Scott Thomas

 

Post  Posted 9 Mar 2019 9:47 pm    
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The only lap steel I was aware of that changed tunings was the National Triplex Chord Changer. I agree...fascinating!
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Dave Young

 

From:
Mount GambierSouth Australia, Australia
Post  Posted 9 Mar 2019 10:45 pm     Pacific
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Hello David--l have the same guitar but in red--posted pics and queries on forum around 1 year ago- without much luck- will keep a lookout for any more details that you discover! Regards David Young in South Australia
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Jim Schofield

 

From:
Northern Territory, Australia
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2019 4:06 pm    
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That brand has popped up before in Australia on one of the guitar forums I think.

Link: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
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David Matzenik


From:
Cairns, on the Coral Sea
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2019 3:13 am    
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Jim Schofield wrote:
That brand has popped up before in Australia on one of the guitar forums I think.

Link: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences


When I was a kid, in Sydney circa 1961, the cheap furniture stores used sell those Pacific acoustic guitars. They were plywood, they had dreadful necks, and came with your choice stencil: Palm trees or cowboys. They were then about 30 years out of date, and no serious student would look at one without laughing. However, there is a kind of retro-appeal for them these days, now that it is easy to buy a good guitar. Its hard to see how they could have gone so far up market to produce this electric guitar. I am not ruling Australia manufacture out, but everything about this guitars says "made in the USA," to me. I suspect someone with American connections, like Astor Radio, imported a few.
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2019 6:12 am    
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Is the hardware metric or standard. That would be a good clue where it was manufactured.
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Jim Schofield

 

From:
Northern Territory, Australia
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2019 3:45 pm    
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Yes sure David I get your point though it does look like they only pop up in Australia and at that time (40's maybe 50's) we had no trouble copying American products also as a business it seems they had quite a connection to the Hawaiian music scene and the steel could have been their main interest. It would be nice to see something other than guesses though.

We were still doing Imperial then Bill, my "Sheraton 9" is a copy of a "Southbend 9", it was made in Melbourne in the 50's and is all imperial measurement on the dials and threads
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David Matzenik


From:
Cairns, on the Coral Sea
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2019 4:39 pm    
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The measurements are in inches. The pots are AB brand made in the USA. Fretboard design registered number 23983. The plastic nut and roller string guide has Pat-Pend 6116-46, and the tuning shifter has the number 47 engraved on it. I will do further research on the patent number.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 1:07 pm     Pacific String Master 8
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G’day David, I bought a String Master 8 the day before yesterday via Gumtree. The seller had a link to this discussion so I joined. Mine had general grime from long inaction and storage so I set about cleaning & lubricating the tuners before attempting to tune it.
As to country of origin, I lean towards Australia because Reg’d Design 23983 is a form of copyright protection familiar since my youth when we had a strong household appliance manufacturing sector. Bakelite was widely used here for mantle radios, small record players and electrical fittings like double adaptors and switch bodies. I have two old electric jugs with Bakelite lids. The capacitor or resistor in mine is branded Ducon who manufactured in Australia from about 1932 to 1963.
The now 3 guitars mentioned here are all in Australia.
Thanks to your photographs I discover mine is missing the white nut trim revealing the aluminium structure supporting the nut.
When I bought the guitar, the lower slider travelled fully from left to right and the upper only about 8mm. A day later, after cleaning dust & grime from the brass rods & lightly greasing with Vaseline, neither will move at all. I hope that you might have some advice about accessing and servicing the tuning adjusters as part of the linkage system seems to be hidden below the pickup.
My Bakelite bridge cover bears residual glue (epoxy?) from a previous repair and has additional hair line cracks. I am tempted to try and repair it from behind with fine fibreglass cloth and resin, gel coat or epoxy. Any suggestions appreciated.
In pursuit of Reg’d Design 23983, I ended up at the State Library of Victoria which claims to have an archive of every Registered Design from1907 to 1982. After speaking to the Enquiry Librarian I lodged an online request for a copy of 23983 in the hope that it might contain technical details of the tuning adjustment. I’ll report on anything I learn.
I hope a first post is allowed to be long winded and thanks in anticipation of any member being able to help.




PS. I appear to be able to upload on 1 photo.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 1:14 pm    
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I thought I uploaded a full view and now the Upload picture button is partially greyed out & won’t let me add other photos.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 10:33 pm    
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 10:35 pm    
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Looks like my previous problem might have been network related.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 10:36 pm    
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 10:44 pm    
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Hairline cracks in Bakelite bridge cover.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 10:46 pm    
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Nut cover missing from my guitar.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 10:49 pm    
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My String Master decal has seen better days, it is cracked with broken edges lifted slightly.
Any suggestions for preserving what is left?
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David Matzenik


From:
Cairns, on the Coral Sea
Post  Posted 12 Mar 2020 3:21 pm    
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Hello Jeffrey,

The plastic nut-roller unit on these guitars are not supported by aluminium. In the case of your guitar, the aluminium nut-roller has been made to replace the original plastic unit. The maker of this replacement did not understand the original, or for that matter, guitars in general.

You will notice your unit uses the roller as the nut. This alters the scale length so the fret markers are no longer relevant. The original plastic unit has a nut directly above the end of the fretboard. The roller is merely a string distributor to the tuners. If I had your guitar I would make a new nut unit incorporating the roller at the end of the fretboard. I soaked the roller in kerosene over night to free it up.

Unlike just about every other guitar, the Pacific'c strings are suspended below the nut and bridge. This is the principal design fault of these guitars because it does nothing for tone or sustain. Volume and sustain rapidly diminish as one moves above the 12th fret.

On Johnny Green's guitar, I fibreglassed the inside of the bakelite cover, but if it were mine I would forgo originality and put a fastening at the end, to stop the cover sliding off and getting damaged.

If you dismantle the changer, you need to really understand how it works first. Once the spring are released its all floppy. Does your guitar have a number engraved on the changer housing near the string ends?

Forgetting the two fixed bottom strings, the changer is designed for three basic tunings. First and fourth strings are fixed E. Both levers to the right should be A, C#, E (twice) Moving the inner lever to middle gives C#m tuning. Then outer lever all the way left gives E tuning. Its a nifty idea, but it is not fully developed to its potential. As you can see from underneath, the strings are slackest when the levers are all the way left. That's the position to tune in. After G B E are correct you can move to the other two and adjust with the screws. The neat thing is that it tells you the note right on the plastic gizmo.

Your point about the three examples being in this country is a strong argument for Australian manufacture. However, this instrument was made between 1935 and 1950, and required six different areas of expertise, and considerable set-up investment in those lean times. I have not seen any other early Australian steel guitar this sophisticated.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 12 Mar 2020 6:34 pm     Pacific String Master 8
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G’day David,
Thanks for your comprehensive reply. What you say about the nut, scale length and fret markers is now clear to me, comparing my SM8 to any other guitar. I am away from home babysitting my granddaughter on an overnighter & then away for the weekend. I’ll check for the number when I get back. I can see yours has 47 stamped on it, but enlarging my posted photo doesn’t show a number where yours is.
I’ll refer to your posts, examine my guitar & proceed with caution when I gat home.
Thanks again.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 14 Mar 2020 10:29 pm     Pacific String Master 8
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I have received the following photo from the State Library of Victoria showing the application for and granting of Registered Design 23983. David was right in that the design registration was for the fretboard only. I was rather hoping that it was for the whole guitar, in particular the tuning adjustment.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 15 Mar 2020 12:35 am     Pacific String Master 8
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G’day David,
Thanks for your comprehensive reply. What you say about the nut, scale length and fret markers is now clear to me, comparing my SM8 to any other guitar. I am away from home babysitting my granddaughter on an overnighter & then away for the weekend. I’ll check for the number when I get back. I can see yours has 47 stamped on it, but enlarging my posted photo doesn’t show a number where yours is.
I’ll refer to your posts, examine my guitar & proceed with caution when I gat home.
Thanks again.
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David Matzenik


From:
Cairns, on the Coral Sea
Post  Posted 15 Mar 2020 12:31 pm    
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I don't know how I missed the post with the photo of the design registry. Great investigation on your part, thanks. I am now prepared to change my opinion about the guitar's country of origin; probably Australia. The 47 on the changer is probably the year.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 15 Mar 2020 1:03 pm     Pacific String Master 8
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You can see the reference to photo etching just above the expiry stamp on the registration form, revealing another aspect of the manufacturing process.
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Jeffrey Ross

 

From:
Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 25 Mar 2020 12:52 am     Pacific String Master 8
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Hi David,
Do you know what the basic tuning of this guitar should be? Or options if there are any. Do you know the suitable string gauges?
I propose to use the thin Super Glue to stabilise the cracks & then fibreglass the bridge cover. I like your suggestion about securing the cover in place.
When you have a moment I would be grateful if you can tell me hight of the underside of the nut above the fretboard.
Given the incomplete aluminium constructed nut & absence of a number where your guitar has 47, could my guitar be a pre production prototype?

Many thanks,
Jeff.
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