4/22/2015

1950s Harmony-made Silvertone Baritone Uke


Well, nothing fancy today, folks! Today we have this uke but tomorrow we'll have a fancy old Harmony H1265 jumbo, Epiphone-branded Gibson ES-125T style electric guitar, and old Goya G-17 classical.

This is a customer's old 50s Silvertone bari and... like other 50s Harmony-made baris... it has a good, round sound after fixing. My work on it included a saddle shave, bridge reglue, seam reglue, fret level/dress, new tuners install, and setup. The owner wanted some higher-tension strings so I used the ADGB strings of a classical guitar set to tune this to standard DGBE baritone tuning. The tension with this setup is comparable to the "old" Aquila Nylgut sets which were higher tension than the newer, floppier ones.



The whole uke is solid mahogany with a rosewood bridge and fretboard and bone nut and saddle. It looks pretty spiffy in the pics but this has plenty of use-wear, light scratching, etc. all over it.


Silvertone (Sears) brand Harmony baris are rarer than your usual Harmony bari, but they're still out there. The giveaway to early-mid 50s dating are the general build, higher-quality mahogany, and original bone nut and saddle.


The neck had a bit of warp which I mostly leveled-out via the fret level/dress (these are brass frets). Action is a hair above 1/16" at the 12th fret and it plays nice and smooth.



It's funny, but I'd done all the other work and found out after the fact that the bridge was only held on by a tiny bit of glue from the factory, so I popped it off and reglued it with full-foot glue coverage.

I've balled/knotted the string ends and loaded this "uke fashion" rather than classical-guitar fashion to improve back-angle on the saddle. In fact, I like doing this on any old classical-style bridge.




We decided to replace the original friction pegs with these $15 Korean-made Kluson copy tuners. Not only do they look 50s, they work a heckuva lot better than friction pegs for your average player, and they look "right" with the rectangular headstock shape.



There's only one small crack on the back despite the wear and tear. I do like the look of that faded tortoise binding as it mixed into the mahogany. Don't you?


The back seam at the endblock had sprung loose from water damage and I cleaned that up and glued it, too. You can see the missing finish near where the damage was done.

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