11/06/2011

c.1925 Harmony-made Supertone Tenor Guitar


This size 5, 21" scale tenor guitar was made by Harmony around 1925 or so. It bears a busted-up "Supertone" (Sears) label in the soundhole. A lot of folks mistake these small-bodied, pin-bridge instruments as baritone ukes... but those more familiar with the back-history of baritone ukes will know that they weren't around essentially until the '50s.

This tenor is in great shape, though much work was needed -- a neck reset, fretboard extension shave and re-glue, fret dress, crack repairs, seam repairs, and relocation of the saddle on the bridge (as well as a light shave of the bridge) for proper intonation and action height. All this was done, and now it's a sweet-sounding, fast-playing, cute little bug with tons of punch. I think these 12-fret tenors sound excellent for Celtic-y or Balkans-y sounding music as they often have fairly complex and interweaving overtones, especially in open tunings or standard fifths tuning.


Did you see how awesome the pearloid fretboard and pickguard are?


I'd always wanted to try this mod of a bridge since seeing a similar thing done on production tiples made by Lyon & Healy. The saddle on this bridge was located almost 1/8" too far back and to get proper action height even after the neck reset I had to shave the bridge a bit. So, I recut the bridge, removed the old saddle, and installed tiny screws to elevate the strings at the proper location for correct intonation. This lets the player micro-adjust action up or down for different tunings and string gauges... and also sounds real cool. It's like having a fret saddle (metal into wood) but with a bit more punch. Individual string separation is really good, too.


The fun wood purfling/rosette is a mix of brown/yellow-orange/dark blue colors. Note the celluloid binding on the top, back, and soundhole.


Original bone nut, cool pearloid peghead veneer, too.


I like the simple dot markers.




Solid birch back and sides, all crack free.


Ivoroid-buttoned tuners.


Good tight neck join (now).






...and no end pin! ...because this is really easy to just tuck under one's arm uke-style, I'd imagine.

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