c.1940 Harmony-made Bluebird Guitar

Update 2012: I recently received this guitar back in a trade towards an expensive instrument, so it's available again! It's nice, loud, and plays really easily. I've just done a fresh setup on it so it plays a little over 1/16" on the treble and 3/32" on the bass -- spot on. The photos in the post are now updated, 2012 ones.

Ah, Depression era guitars! This one was made by Harmony, and while very low key, it's certainly not a bad instrument for the budget -- solid birch throughout, fancy "laurels" motif and deco-style striping, faux-mahogany grain on top and faux-binding as well.

The usual Harmony date stamp is on the inside, but the numbers are impossible to read -- it's stamped S-** for Spring of... when? My guess is late 30s, but not really after 1940, as it is very close in spec to the Supertone-branded late 30s laurels model (click here for a link to one of those). In addition to the date stamp, there's also a model stamp -- 1515 -- which happens to mean nothing.

The "Bluebird" brand name might relate to the Bluebird Manufacturing Co out of Philadelphia, but other than that, I have no idea. You see it once in a while on old Chicago-made guitars, banjos, and mandolins, but it's just a distributor brand.

This guitar has lived a rough life -- look at all that playwear! It's original, however, save for a later bone nut (twice shimmed up) and a brand new rosewood mandolin-style floating bridge, which was a marked improvement over the rather wrecked-up, screwed-on poplar and glass thingamajig that was on this when I got the guitar.

Note also that there's some top deformation around the soundhole -- but it's stable after regluing the braces above and below it. This kind of top deformation is typical on these old Harmony ladder-braced guitars -- especially when stored under tension in a warm place.

I've dressed the frets on this guitar. Oh -- and those fret dots? Inlaid celluloid Not bad for something usually painted on! The "binding" is of course, painted on.

Note the halfheartedly filled holes where the old "floating bridge" was screwed on. I had to move the tailpiece slightly to the bass side to get alignment correct with it truly "floating."

Tons of scratches.

Original tuners work just fine.

Someone "reset" this neck... and popped in a dowel for support. Good and strong but darn ugly! Still, fair enough. It works great.

I added a replacement ebony end pin here.


sween said...

Send me an invoice man, mailing address to where it is going in email I sent. Smiles and thank yous

Dave Tucker said...

I'm looking to find out about an archtop Bluebird I just acquired. Any advice on where to start digging?