c.1955 Harmony H1215T Archtop Tenor Guitar

These archtop tenors make excellent take-anywhere instruments for tenor guitarists or tenor banjoists who want a loud, simple, and punchy instrument. Unlike earlier tenors (1920s through 40s), these Harmony-made archtops have a 15 1/4" lower bout for lots of volume and "body" to the voice while also featuring the shortened body length that allows for a comfortable-playing and comfortably located 14 fret neck join.

I've worked on a few of these and liked each one I fixed up. This one was a trade-in on another instrument and I'm glad to have it in the shop until it finds its new home. These are fun to play and have a nice punch to them, plus that sort of spooky compressed old Harmony archtop box sound.

This guitar is entirely made from solid birch and unlike the later (read: 1960s) models, the 1950s ones actually have pretty thin tops which makes them "handle" better as well as sound better. All that "bling" -- the "binding," sunburst, wood grain, position dots -- is all just painted-on, which from a blues or old-timey perspective is actually pretty funky and cool.

My work on the guitar included regluing a loose top brace (this has "tone bar" bracing) as well as drop-filling a couple of hairline cracks. I also cleaned it up, leveled and dressed the frets, and set it up. Plays great, now, with low action of 1/16" on the treble and 3/32" on the bass at the 12th fret -- as good as it gets.

Original adjustable rosewood bridge with brass adjustment wheels.

Simple, sturdy tailpiece.

Original bone nut.

Brass frets, painted position markers.

Nice-looking simple tuners. After some WD-40 they work great.

Tight, sealed hairline near the neck block.

Note the faux woodgrain.

A cool guitar! I set the nut up on this guy so it can be strung in a variety of tunings (with a variety of string diameters) and still maintain proper action height at the nut.

1 comment:

Reb said...

hey this is a sweet tenor! I have one similar to it in looks, but mine's a Slingerland Songster that I dated to about 1933-ish as far as I could tell... it also has some cracks that I've wanted to glue up. The cracks are in the face of the guitar at the bottom and top of the F-holes... you mentioned drop-sealing... what exactly is that? Just glue from a dropper? I'm a decent woodworker, so if you have a technique I'd love to hear about it and try it out.
ps check out my post about my tenor on my blog... I think the post title is, coincidentally, "Antibellum Birthday Present" under the "music" category.