5/20/2012

c.1965 Harmony H41 Hollywood Electric Guitar



Update Dec 2012: I received this guitar back to the shop in a trade and it's now available. For a serious Harmony fan, this is a real find since many of these old Hollywoods are beat to heck and this one is also the rare 2-pickup configuration.

I worked on this guitar for the same customer as the previous two Harmony makes -- the Rocket & Regal-branded acoustic. This one was the true basket-case of the bunch, with wonky action, wiring, and whatnot. These Hollywoods are full regular acoustic archtop guitars with solid birch throughout and a mystery-hardwood dyed fretboard and they actually sound fairly decent unplugged.

So, my work included a fret level/dress, new tuner ferrules, setup, and wiring work as well as a bit of cleaning. It now plays awesome and has a great, Dynasonic-y Gretsch tone to it, with that clear balanced and twangy sort of sound these pickup types are famous for.



The wiring on this instrument is pretty simple -- a blender pot that blends between neck and bridge pickups and a master volume and tone control. The bit that isn't simple, is that at the factory Harmony installed a whopping capacitor on the neck pickup's origin signal and a smaller high frequency cut on the bridge pickup's origin signal. Basically, the neck pickup was hardwired to that Gretsch-y "mud switch" sound with all the high frequencies rolled off. Terrible!!!

Of course, the reason for this is to give players a chunky warm jazz tonality at the neck and a biting but slightly creamy lead at the bridge without having to adjust the tone pot. But for players who want to play anything but jazz...? A really bad idea. I took those caps out, fed the signal straight through to the blender, then replaced a cruddy capacitor at the tone with the (good) one removed from the neck pickup signal.

And in the end? A really, really great sounding guitar with that early-50s, late-40s Gretsch sound but much hotter and more driving. I think the owner was as surprised as I was by how well this thing turned out. Let this be an example for electric makers in the future -- keep it simple! We don't need extra gizmos to make things go!


Cute Hollywood stenciled logo at the headstock. As typical, the original nut was too high by a bunch to begin with.


Fun painted-on fret markers.


Here are those kick-butt pickups.


Original rosewood adjustable bridge.


One weird bit with the blender pot is that when the tone knob is entirely rolled off the signal gets very lost on the blender at about the middle position. And no, this isn't about pickup polarity being wonky.





This has a yellow-green to brown "sunburst" finish...? Or should I say, tan lines?


Tuners work just fine.

2 comments:

may mcdonough said...

Have you sold this yet? I see that it has been over a year. Looking for a harmony hollywood for under $400
Maymcdonough@gmail.com

Ric Hardford said...

Hi, I'm also looking for one. Is this for sale? richard4d@gmail.com