8/05/2013

c.1935 Harmony-made Serenader "Parlor" Guitar


While branded "Serenader," this is clearly a Harmony product from the late 30s or very early 40s. It's got the "new" Harmony parlor shape c.1935-1970 compared to the older, more-rounded shape of the 20s and early 30s. Like most of these bottom-rung student-model guitars made by Harmony, it's all-solid birch throughout with a poplar neck and dyed-hardwood bridge and fretboard. The frets are brass and everything is original to this guitar save the new bone nut (the original nut was wooden and too worn to reuse).

This is a customer's guitar and it came here in surprising condition: no cracks, no need to reset the neck, frets decently tall and not too-worn (though they needed seating and a light level/dress), and nothing mucked-up. It has the pressed-in "scar" of having worn an extension (ie, raised metal) nut for Hawaiian/lap stringing which may explain why there's no pickwear and the board itself isn't worn out.


So, work included that fret level/dress, cutting the original bridge lower, grinding down the underside of the tailpiece so it didn't rattle on the top, a new nut, light cleaning, and setup. I also lubed the original tuners which now work nicely.

It plays beautifully and has a loud, sing-songy, projecting and biting tone. I've come to expect this from these guitars. They're far louder and more powerful than the same-model guitars that have pin bridges and, if anyone could get over the stigma of using a "blues" guitar, they'd make excellent swing or gypsy-jazz workhorses. I mean it!


There's that typically-30s Harmony headstock. The Serenader brand was used on various instruments made from the Chicago "big 3" -- Harmony, Regal, and Kay -- as it was a retailer brand for B&J, not the maker's mark.


Celluloid dots in the board.


The stenciled rosette is very cool and recalls New Jersey-made Oscar Schmidt instruments.


The scale runs to roughly 24 1/8" and feels quick and springy with the trapeze tailpiece setup.



No cracks, no seam separations, hard to believe!




The faux-flame is a typical Harmony touch.






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