1964/2015 Harmony-made Silvertone Hollowbody Electric Guitar

When you think of hollowbody electric guitars you mostly think about f-hole archtop guitars with a pickup added at the neck, right? Well -- here's the flattop equivalent! This came to me as a crack-free but beaten-up old all-solid birch Silvertone tailpiece acoustic (minus its tailpiece and toting dead tuners). I did the necessary repairs -- neck reset, fret level/dress, seam repairs (the braces were good to go) -- and then converted it into a hollowbody electric with the addition of a half-Tele-style bridge, new Kluson-style repro tuners, and a set of pickups. How about that? This is the kind of goofing around I do for off-hours fun.

It plays and sounds a lot like an archtop electric of the same general makeup but has a definite "difference" in the way it responds. Not surprisingly -- it responds a bit more like a flattop in the overtone sequences and has a feel more like a "Tele" on the left hand, though the "top mount" string tensioning and shorter 25 1/8" scale length means it's not as stiff as a Tele. It's a wonderfully interesting instrument to play and fills a niche for sure.

This guitar never had a glued-on bridge so it was perfect for bolt-mounting a Tele-style bridge. The four bolts travel through an oversize bridge plate (originaly equipment) and have good-sized washers to hold it nice and tight.

This guitar has an all-solid birch body (no cracks) with a poplar neck and dyed-maple fretboard. Typical Harmony from the time! The "binding" is all sprayed-on but the "cherry sunburst" is very cool, no?

Original plastic nut... and I've also left out ferrules for the tuners just like this guitar originally had.

This has a 1 11/16" nut width but a fairly hefty C-shaped neck profile. the board is flat and has brass frets and stenciled fret markers.

The only "control" is a 3-way switch (heavy duty). The neck pickup is a Danelectro-style lipstick pickup (GFS-sourced, 6k output) which gives a nice "vintage acoustic soundhole pickup" sound when strummed but sounds decidedly lovely for slide and fingerpicking work, too. If you "chop chord" it you can get a faithful single-coil jazz tone, too.

When set in the middle there's a delicious mids-rich jazz/hollowbody tonality going on because...

...the "bridge" or "center" pickup is an Epi (modern) mini-humbucker. The poles don't quite match the string spacing but I've finagled it to have even response. I have it set so that you get a gain boost in the "bridge" position for snarly lead work.

The bridge itself is a Wilkinson brass-saddle (intonated) half-Tele unit. I love these things. Strings are 46w-10 balanced D'Addario strings (EXL110BT set) and I think that tension will keep this nice and stable for the long-run.

Note also filled tiny holes on the top from a screw-mounted original pickguard (now gone). The "light color" next to the "ashtray" is just a reflection and, yes, this is all mounted on-center.

The body is a full 000-size unit.

These Korean-made Kluson-style repros are my favorite "standard issue" tuner. They... work!

I added a strap button at the heel.

Don't ya love that? Well, I do...

1 comment:

Franky Znauder said...

Amazing Work! Congrats to this beautiful guitar!
I have searched the internet for hours for articles/posts about mounting regular pickups right on the flat top of a acoustic guitar. I think you are the only one doing this, mo one else tried this out i guess...
I have a question: Did you ever try this with a parlor?
Because I have an old Framus 5/1 which i want to electrify. These guitars have a lot of space between soundhole and saddle, so might be enough room, but i think the sound may be not the best...
Greets Frank