4/12/2012

c.1925 Harmony-made Hawaiian "Parlor" Guitar





This guitar has been through a lot but keeps on giving. From the get-go, this was made for the Hawaiian guitar market (to be played in the lap face up, with raised strings and with a steel/slide), but many of these were also marketed as being able to be converted to Spanish play with the removal of their (original, long since gone, here) factory raised nut.

This one has been played as a Hawaiian all its life and if you cut to the bottom of this post you can see photos of its "before" condition with note markers and learner's pasted stickers on the fretboard for those old-fashioned Hawaiian guitar method books. The problem with being played as a Hawaiian all its life is, of course, higher string tension. The neck has a warp and slight twist to it and the belly, while still a "flat" dome, has pulled upwards over time raising action at the bridge side.

So, I did the needed work -- cleaning, crack repair/cleating, brace reglues, seam reglues, raising the original wooden nut, regluing the original bridge (which had been included loose with the instrument), lubing the tuners, and set it all back up for raised-string Hawaiian play.


The body is all-solid birch with a dark-brown mahogany finish. Top, back, and soundhole are bound in a really cool black/white celluloid checker pattern, the fretboard is rosewood, the bridge is an ebonized hardwood of some sort, and the neck is most likely dark-stained poplar.

The top bracing is a typical lightly-braced Harmony-style ladder type which, combined with the hardwood top, gives this guitar a warm, balanced, punchy tone with a creamy high end. It has a very good blues sound.


When I reinstalled the tuners I reversed them for easier tuning in the lap.


Original frets, celluloid dot markers.


Reglued bridge -- note old hairline crack repairs to the bridge. They're stable. Bridge pins are new plastic ones.



The Hawaiian-scene decals really do it for this guitar, though. There's this big one on the front and one on either side of the guitar -- obviously, made to pop out while playing this in lap position. Gives the guit some class!



Crack-free back and sides.

Alternately, the top has one big crack on the lower bout (cleated and filled) and one hairline, 3" or so at the soundhole-to-bridge area, also all glued up.



I reset the neck to give it a good sturdy join. Because this was intended as a Hawaiian from the start, however, the heel wasn't cut perfectly to begin with.


Note the finish flaking at the waist. There's some of that on the top, lower bout, as well, but the finish overall is still lookin' good.


Simple tuners do the job.





Pretty cool scenes there, too!


I back-filled these two holes, presumably there from an old tailpiece install. Note that the endblock has no strap button. This is another clue of its original intention to be strung for Hawaiian play.


Here's a lower bout seam gluing up from the repair process.


Here I'm installing cleats for the larger top crack.


Note the stickies pasted on for fret positions and also the handwritten note indicators for every fret! From what I recall they were for DGDGBD tuning.


After the neck set, here's the fretboard extension and bridge going back in place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How much for this guitar IF it were for sale?