12/06/2013

c.1955 Harmony Stella "Sundale" Parlor Guitar




Like the Harmony "Caribbean" line, the Harmony-made Stella-branded "Sundale" line was a series of Harmony's "general purpose" entry-level 12 fret guitar that featured bright, automotive-inspired painted finishes rather than the usual natural or sunburst look. A lot fewer of them were made and the production run was mostly limited to the mid and late 50s. This particular Sundale model (H904 in Harmony talk) is in a kelly/surf green two-tone with painted-on white "binding."

This guitar came to me as a big mess with a loose neck, top bracing entirely unglued, some sloppily repaired seams and way more seams needing to be reglued. It got the works: two out of three top braces were replaced with new ones, deformation to the upper bout was addressed by a slightly beefier brace, the neck got a reset and the fretboard extension was reglued properly, the frets were leveled and dressed, many seams were reglued, the bridge was shimmed up and intonated a bit, and the whole thing got a good cleaning and setup. Oh -- a new bone nut, too, and a tuner lube.

The result? Hey -- it's a guitar! -- and a good-sounding one at that. It plays perfectly and the short 24" scale feels nice for use as a couch-potato instrument. I'm always impressed by how much volume these guys put out when they've been gone through and this one is no slouch there, either. It has that bluesy, percussive, fundamental tone I expect with a ladder-braced flattop tailpiece guitar.




The guitar has a couple of hairline cracks near the fretboard extension (since cleated up) and a tiny hairline crack on the lower bout near the tailpiece (drop-filled, tight, and stable). Otherwise it's crack free.

All the hardware is 100% original to the instrument but I did shim up the bridge for proper action height post-neck reset.


I left the bone nut rough-sanded as I usually do for lower-end instruments (a highly-polished nut looks out of place on them). I love the stenciled logo on this headstock.


Here are those typical 3-bar stenciled position markers you find on this type of Harmony straight out of the postwar years on up into the 70s.



Again -- typical Harmony tailpiece. The bridge has to be "tilted" for proper compensation, though I suppose a new one could be cut to do the same job -- but then you lose the down-low dyed-bridge mystique.







It's hard to see in the pics but the treble lower bout top edge has some creep (it's stable) due to some old reglues to that seam. Oh well -- not a big deal.


I added an old plastic pin from my parts bin to replace the missing original.

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