2/10/2016

1974 Harmony Opus Jumbo Flattop Guitar




So here it is! This is one of Harmony's top-flight "Opus" model guitars (labeled model 1150 inside) and it's basically a Harmony Sovereign that's fitted with a slim, modern-feeling neck and has an x-braced top. How's it sound? After work -- a lot, lot, lot like a Gibson J-200... though the mahogany back and sides impart a distinctly Martin M flavor to the sustain and punch of the tone. I'm not really surprised at this since, despite the super-dreadnought sizing of the instrument, the overall characteristics of most 16" wide Harmony Sovereigns lean more into the "jumbo" camp than the dreadnought one. Apparently these guitars were made as an effort to regain some market for Harmony -- and while the quality-level is certainly close to Guild or mid-range Gibson specs, the plan didn't work and the name went to Asian manufacturing over the next couple years.

I worked on this guitar for a customer and it received a neck reset, bridge reglue, light fret level/dress, general cleaning, a new bone saddle, and a good setup. It's in very good order with a well-functioning truss rod, straight neck, and no cracks despite the solid wood all-around. Curiously, when I pulled the neck off I found a joint that was not, shall we say, beautiful. The cut of the joint was nice but, like this other repairman found out, it was not "on center" with the body... so the reset involved a lot of experimenting with shimming-up the joint until it was good to go on the "dry run."



The Opus guitars seem to have Rotomatics as standard tuners. They're certainly a bit better than the usual Harmony choice of "cheapest is best."


Both the bridge and fretboard are rosewood. Note that this guitar retains the usual Harmony-style "pearloid" block markers of the higher-end Sovereigns but also has 3-ply fretboard binding as well.

The neck itself has a 1 3/4" nut width -- though the spacing is only 1 1/2" at the nut. So, despite having a small-feeling neck (it's shallow and C-shaped like most modern guitars), it has plenty of "space" on the board for one's hands.

The original frets are all good to go and the action height is DGBE 1/16" and EA 3/32" at the 12th fret with "balanced light tension" strings.




I slightly widened the saddle slot to get better compensation on the new bone saddle as the original saddle was super-thin. Plus... I like stability on my saddles after jacking the neck back to add more back-angle. The pins are original -- actually, everything is original to the guitar save this new saddle and a replacement heel cap.



Aside from one "ding" at the lower bout on the rear, the nice-looking mahogany on the back has been spared the ravages of belt buckles and whatnot.










The endstrip plastic has shrunken a bit.

1 comment:

Mr Lutton said...

So cool - I love these guitars, and I bet this is a gem!