12/04/2014

1950s Harmony Baritone Uke


This is a customer's uke that had a long wait to get into surgery. Tis the problem when the emergency room is full-up! Work was light on it and included a fret level/dress, bridge/saddle shave, nut adjustment, new tuners, and setup.

It's among the nicer old Harmony baris I've worked on and I'll bet it dates from the early 50s considering the nice curly/figured mahogany and the thinner, faster neck. It's solid mahogany throughout with a rosewood board and bridge and bone nut and saddle. The saddle, unlike later Harmony baris, was installed really deep before gluing-in which means that modding the saddle area for setup was really quick vs. having to re-slot and cut a new saddle after shaving the bridge.




The owner was having trouble with the original friction pegs and I don't blame her: they can be frustrating. A happy mod I've found for these is installing simple repro Kluson-style guitar units: they look right with the headstock shape and are certainly easier for our modern players who expect a bit of fine tuning and stability along with it...


The frets were uneven and so needed that level/dress job quite a bit. They're brass stock and shaped up nicely. The position dots are faux-MOP, just like normal for these ukes. I added new strings, too, and because of a very tiny amount of backbow to the neck I could sneak in a higher-tension set (which means better volume and fuller sound) that I mixed up from wound nylon classical strings and Martin fluorocarbon trebles. I think a typical Aquila bari set would be a close match for these tension-wise.





There's not a crack to be seen and the finish, also unlike later Harmony baris, is a bit glossier.








An original chip case is nice to have, too.

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