Late 1960s NorMa Parlor Guitar

NorMa guitar profile

Circa 1968 “NorMa” parlor guitar – a 3/4-sized lightweight guitar with a sweet, mellow sound with rich midrange. It would be a great starter guitar for a teen or adult with its comfortable neck and low action, or a perfect couch or camping guitar for a veteran player.


Scale: 23 1/2″
Upper bout: 9 1/2″
Waist: 8 1/2″
Lower bout: 13″

This guitar has a laminate top, back, and sides and nice low action, about 3/32″ at the 12th fret. It intonates perfectly up and down the neck. It has a comfortable C-shaped neck, and a new set of D’Addario EJ11 Light strings. It does have a few scuffs and spots of wear, typical of a 50-year-old instrument, but no cracks, scratches, or gouges.

Photo of a the action at the 12th fret at 3/32 of an inch

Norma guitars were the house brand of the Strum and Drum wholesale music company in Chicago, who imported guitars from Japan from 1957 until 1969/70. The company later became National Guitars.
You can see this model guitar in the thumbnail on page 16 of the 1968 Strum and Drum catalog.

Guitar on workbench with two guitars hanging above

On this guitar I repaired two loose and cracked braces on the back, replaced the enormous zero fret with a narrow fret to get the action down in first position, and did a fret level and dress. I also scraped polyurethane off the fretboard, which had been added by a previous owner. I made a new floating bridge out of walnut, and secured it to the top with double-sided tape. These floating bridges are easy to knock around if you aren’t careful, and this way the bridge isn’t permanently attached, but won’t move unless you want it to. I straightened a bent tuning key and lubed the tuners and gears. Like all imported tuners from the ’60s, they don’t have bushings, so they turn tightly when the strings are up to pitch. The guitar seems to have spent a lot of its life in a case, which explains why it is so blemish free. One note: it has no position markers, either side dots or on the fretboard. The decals on the 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets came off with the polyurethane.

This guitar sold to some who who wants to turn it into a resonator guitar. Ah well.

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