6/28/2014

c.1960 Harmony-made Monterey-style Archtop Mandolin




I've had small affairs with the 30s/40s version of this basic mandolin and a brush with a late-game version but and this 60s variant with its slightly-changed headstock shape (and no branding) is definitely more in the latter camp. I like it... it feels solid, has a slick, quick, fast neck... and has a tone that's a middling-step above something like a decent entry solid-top arched import mandolin these days. It's a good, practical little unit. It's not honking loud and doesn't have much bass but there's a crunchy mids sound to it that's so typical of Harmony arched mandos and I think that comes across decently on record.

Anyhow -- it was in pretty good shape when it got here but it did need some fret leveling/dressing to remove a minor amount of warp to the neck and of course a corresponding full setup after that which included fitting the bridge a bit better, too. The top center seam was also just a hair open at its very top from what appears to be just a bit of shrinkage and so I backfilled that and sealed it up for looks' sake. Good to go.


The top is solid spruce while the back is laminate maple and the sides are solid maple. The dark finish is like a two-tone sunburst of red/black.


I forgot to mention the new bone nut...! ...a bit better than the cruddy piece of plastic included originally. I used a grungier-looking bit of parts-bine bone to fit in with the light wear of the instrument and the color of the original plastic.


Rosewood board... 14" scale... brass frets... and faux-MOP dots. This currently has a pretty light set of 32w-9 strings (that was all that was left in the bin at the moment) but it'll handle 10s just fine. I wouldn't want to put 11s on this as the neck is fairly thin and only reinforced with a small bit of steel.


Rosewood adjustable bridge...


I liked the old cloud-style tailpiece better but this guy works just fine. I stuffed some foam under the cover to mute the extra string length, too.



It's pretty clean, really, save a bit of use-wear here and there.


These 18:1 tuners Harmony seems to have used on their 60s+ instruments really aren't bad at all. They're a good step up from most entry/mid-grade import sets these days and enable smaller incremental tuning-up so you can get those string pairs more quickly in tune with one another.


The neck joint is still holding firm, luckily.




The body size and feel is roughly similar to A-5 specs though the neck is decidedly un-Gibson being thinner (front/back) and C-shaped rather than a bigger V-cut.


Everything but the bone nut is original to the instrument.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Still having a monogamous relationship with the '40's 373 I bought from you. Still love the flatwounds on it also! Thanks!