3/25/2015

1960s Vega/Harmony 000-Size Flattop Guitar




This guitar was made by both Vega and Harmony. The body is a Harmony 000-size (15" lower bout) solid spruce, solid mahogany ladder-braced type that they used in their Sovereign H1203 lineup while the neck is a Boston-made Vega neck as seen on in-house Vega builds. The bridge also appears to be a Vega type and came with a glued-in bone saddle. In the latter part of the 50s and into the early 60s, Vega began concentrating on their banjos for the most part and used their (apparent stockpile) of guitar necks up by mating them to Harmony and other-make bodies -- and that's how this came about.

Today was "glorified setups" day in the shop and I was doing mostly fret level/dress and setup work. That's what this got, plus a light bridge shave and new bone saddle (the shave was to clean up after removing the superglued-in original saddle). It looks like this guitar had a bridge reglue in the past and it also wears a newer pickguard that replaced what looks like shadows of two classical-style pickguards that were used at some point.

The Vega neck makes this guitar way more desirable to me. They're far more stable over time than the Harmony necks (in my opinion) and feel better, too, with a sort of 50s Gibson meets Martin scale length. They're very comfortable and have a good "secure, safe" feeling. My experience with this guitar vs. your average H1203 is extremely positive whereas I get a more mixed-bag feel when I'm playing the Harmony variety neck (mostly because I don't like the feel of them, personally). The sound is bright, attacky, records-well, ladder-braced punch as you'd expect and it wears 12s quite happily.



The body is solid spruce over solid mahogany. The neck is hog as well and both the bridge and board look like Brazilian rosewood to me. Dating on this guitar is difficult but I'd expect it to be from the very late 50s or early 60s.

There are no cracks save a 1" hairline on the rear which is tucked right next to the kerfing, filled, and stable.


1 11/16" nut and perfectly-functional truss. Original bone nut.


The frets needed mild leveling/dressing and feel great. They're the typical smallish Vega wire. The dots are pearl and there are side dots, too.



It's a shame I couldn't use the original bone saddle but it was glued-in fiercely and came apart removing it. This drop-in replacement is my own and compensated for good intonation up the neck. The pins look original and I also modified the string ramps to get them to allow a nice clean 45-degree break-angle on the saddle.



The mahogany back and sides (solid) look great.


After some lube, these original tuners work well.








Original endpin as well. Overall the guitar is pretty clean but there are the "shadows" (well, reverse-shadows) of classical pickguards on the top and various weatherchecking and small amounts of light wear here and there.

1 comment:

harmony guy said...

Nice one, Jack. Never knew a Vega H1203 variety existed. Is it called FT90 on the paper label?