7/10/2015

1940s Harmony-made Archtop Guitar


This guitar is really beat. Fortunately, it almost played alright when it came in yesterday for a setup. I rolled my eyes at doing any extra work because, as you'll see down the post, it's been hack-repaired pretty heavily. I took pictures just because this has its own form of "charm" located somewhere between heavily alligatored finish and the custom half-diamond paintjob edging.



This is a typical lower-end Harmony archtop from the late 30s or early 40s. It's press-arched and all-solid woods, though that means birch for the back and sides and a poplar neck with stained-maple fretboard.



These stencils are very typical for Harmony.


Amazingly, the fretboard extension doesn't "ski jump" so I was able to do a quick setup on the guitar for the customer. The frets aren't entirely level but the board was good enough that I could dial-in standard 3/32" bass, 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret.

The sound is another matter, of course: it's all mids and not much else... and very spanky. Does this have something to do with the bad neck angle? Yes. Does it also have to do with the condition...? Yes.


I fixed some very worn slots in the "saddle/topper" bit that remains from the original rosewood bridge... and then added tiny feet to it just to get it going.


Restringing the string-ends so they'd pass under the tailpiece added a bit more back-tension on the bridge and ramped-up the volume.

I'm just noting this stuff because it helps for this type of "flea market find." There's nothing wrong with playing a guitar like this, but the type of repairs this really needs are just not justified due to the cost involved.





This curious "neck plate" add-on is holding the whole mucked-up bit you see down here together. I'm amazed that it works at all! Obviously it was done quite a bit ago.

Rumor has it that this guitar was used by someone on the Grand Ole Opry. Maybe so, but I doubt that this level of instrument would've graced the Opry stage. Unfortunately, people tell me things like that about all sorts of stuff, so I'm not inclined to believe it.


2 comments:

charlie said...

The three decals are probably the initials of the original owner. These decals were often given away on Spiegels mail order guitars as a gimmick. Maybe other companies did as well.

Royalstandard said...

I own it now. All bashed to bits and I wouldn't trade it for anything. All of my musician friends just LOVE this thing. Needs a bit of fine tuning but I'm sure that Jake will take care of it.