9/15/2012

c.1955 Silvertone by Harmony Baritone Ukulele




While branded Silvertone (the Sears name for their instruments at the time), this baritone uke was made by Harmony around 1955 or thereabouts. This came with a bone nut and saddle and slightly nicer wood (these are all mahogany with rosewood bridges and fretboards) which places it somewhere in the 1950s, since later on plastic was used.

It's all original except that I've modified the bridge: like usual for these Harmony baris "straight from the factory," the bridge itself was made way too high, so I needed to cut it down for proper action. In the end the bone saddle cracked on removing it (these were thin and always glued on Harmony products) so I installed a new fret saddle. I also removed the "classical guitar" style rear of the bridge since the mounting holes were cut so high that there wasn't sufficient back-angle on the new saddle position. I instead converted it over to the pin-bridge style it is now, which cleaned up the tone and added some volume, too.


With a nice lightweight build and good materials, these Harmony baris from the 50s turn out to be really good instruments after they've been gone through and setup properly (I also did a fret level/dress and setup on this). Compared to the "kings" of the field, Favilla and Martin baris, these sound more "uke" to me and less classical guitar. They're a little sweeter but also have more midrange and less bass. These are qualities I like in a fingerpicking instrument since they don't get muddy at all.


Bone nut.


Rosewood board with brass frets and faux-MOP dots.


Plain black pins. You can see the leavings of where the original classical-style "tie block" was before.


Simple one-ring rosette.



The finish has its fair share of scuffs and scratches, but the wood still looks just as nice as new. This instrument also has zero cracks, which is pretty unusual for old Harmony baris (they tended to get played a lot and brought everywhere).









Curiously, there are 6 tiny holes here... from what I believe to have been staples... the question is: why? Still, no harm done.


Friction pegs work just fine.


Good neck set.


The only binding is on the top edge and it's plastic "tortoise" colored stuff.

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