8/27/2011

c.1931 Harmony H1670 Patrician Tenor Guitar





This tenor guitar is a stunner! Just shy of a 23" scale length and with a 15 fret neck join, the access and tension is just perfect. I've set it up for GDAE (octave mandolin) tuning though I've been playing it in GDGD tuning all day long and using a capo to switch keys. I finished work on it last night (new fret-style saddle and slight bridge shave, plus setup, etc.) and it got its trial this morning in our weekly Saturday in-store jam. Lots of fun!

This model, H1670, was made by Harmony for just one year (I believe) before it was canceled. Click here for the Harmony database link. In striking contrast to its more ornamented spruce-topped Roy Smeck-ish cousin, which you can see by clicking here, this guitar is in the realm of what I'd call a Martin 1-17T clone (Martin made a model with a very similar body shape and weird neck join around the same time for an equally short production run). Unlike the other (upscale) model, this one boasts x-bracing instead of ladder bracing, and spare, Martin-like style 15/17 appointments... the bare minimum but very elegant and understated. Also unlike its cousin this one is entirely mahogany throughout with an unbound rosewood fretboard and bridge (as opposed to ebony).


The tone is very balanced, sweet, round, and fiery all at the same time... with excellent sustain and extremely good volume for a flat-top tenor. If you've ever played a Martin 0-15 or 0-17 from the 30s through 50s, you'll understand exactly where I'm coming from. These are sublime little pickers.


Rosewood veneer. Bone nut.


Side dots are a nice touch.


I added some ebony pins. Note that this originally had a (broken) bone saddle, but I liked the idea of the fret saddle on this, as I've encountered them in use on other mahogany guitars and liked the zing they impart to the tone.


This guitar is in super shape -- only short hairline crack on the back and aside from some small pickwear and a ding here and there... relatively unplayed.





The 'hog is quite pretty stuff.




Again with the Martin-style references (the thin black backstrip).


The only thing I would change on this would be the tuners -- an upgrade to some pancake geared pegs would look cool!


Harmony label.

2 comments:

HumbleUker said...

Jake that's an amazing find.
Beautiful!
Jeff/Humbleuker

Ukulele Cowboy said...

Hey Jake,
Great instrument! BTW, the first bunch of photos from the Harmony Database link of the Patrician is my tenor! I love it and it is a great player. It's a super addition to my uke collection.
Mike Kaplan