Circa 1908-12 Tonk Brothers Sterling Parlor Guitar

Here is a great Lyon & Healy guitar sold under the Tonk Bros. “Sterling” label.


Tonk Bros. was a Chicago based music house and distributor of a variety of musical instruments. They ordered guitars from companies like Lyon and Healy and Regal, and sold them in-store and through catalogs. Most “Sterling” guitars were made by Lyon & Healy in its huge Chicago factory. In 1928, Tonk Bros. actually bought the L&H guitar business (distribution only, guitars were thereafter made by Regal).


This particular guitar seems to be based on the L&H Washburn Style 101 “New Model” 1886 design. This one is fancier, sporting abalone sound hole purfling and border inlay with ebony tuners. The former owner said his research showed that L&H used abalone border inlay on Sterlings from 1908-1912; can’t be certain at this writing. In very good condition, too: straight neck, crack repaired well with hide glue , not cleated, with nice non-original ebony period tuners. The sound is quite fine.  A wonderful ringing tone.



Full length: 37”

Depth: 3.5”

Solid Adirondack Spruce Top

Solid bookmatched Brazilian Rosewood back and sides

Ebony Fingerboard

Ebony tuners

Ivory nut and saddle

Spanish cedar neck with mahogany stain.

Diamond and dot markers at the fifth, seventh and ninth positions.

solid Brazilian rosewood fretboard and bridge.

Bone or ivory nut and saddle.