1865 English Romantic guitar signed Catherina Josepha Pratten

Catherina Josepha Pratten or ‘Lady Sidney Pratten’ (1821-1895), was an influential English guitarist from the middle of the 19th century. She had among other famous students, English Princess Louise Duchess of Argyll. This guitar from 1865, dedicated to her, was originally sold by Boosey and son in London.





The guitar was presented to me in relatively good condition considering its age. There were however several things to take care of.

  • Two cracks on the top
  • A partial ungluing of the fingerboard
  • Replacement of the frets, nut, and saddle
  • The bridge had significant deformation

It is the method of restoration of the bridge I will explain in the following passage.

Restoration of the Bridge

Before: bridge unglued


After: bridge repaired and glued in position


It begins with the delicate operation of ungluing the bridge. Equipped with special spatulas I proceed with caution.


Table nue. Le chevalet a été décollé.

Once detached from the top of the guitar, the bridge reveals deformation too excessive to be re-glued in a conventional manner. Two possibilities exist:

  • Make an identical new bridge copied from the original.
  • Re-use the old bridge and repair it using additional identical wood.

With consideration for the conservation of this historical instrument I have chosen the second option. The photos show the progress of the restoration. Firstly, on the underside I make a flat surface at the front of the bridge with an angle behind as shown below.


Angle cut at the rear of the bridge

Then I make the piece to be glued onto the angled face to make up the missing part.


The bridge and the ebony piece before gluing


After gluing the added piece is ready to be cut to match the original.

I follow the shape of the bridge and and flatten the base so that the bridge and top will joint perfectly.


The bridge ready to be glued back in position.


Gluing the bridge