5/12/2016

1970s Korean-made Harmony Electric Mandolin




Talk about a labor of love! A friend of mine traded this to me and I knew it was going to need that "average 70s stuff" work -- but in the end this fella got an arduous fret level/dress (much reseating of frets), 8 new ferrules for its tuners, and a brand new wiring harness (pots, cap, and knobs) to bring it up to spec. It now plays perfectly at 1/16" action at the 12th and with a straight neck. I give it a clean bill of health for the future.

The pickup is kind-of raunchy and bluesy when driven (it's fairly high-output for a single coil) and that's endearing to me -- who wants something looking like this to be perfectly clear and crisp? Besides -- when the volume on the amp is dialed-back, the tone cleans-up nicely (as you can hear in the recording). It's an interesting instrument as it has a fairly-long 14 1/4" scale length. I've used a set of Ernie Ball 34w-9 stainless-steel-wrapped strings because of that -- to keep tension lighter than your average "electric mandolin" set which runs in the 10s or 11s.


I don't know who made this Harmony-branded curio, but the back of the headstock proudly displays "made in Korea." Obviously, this is a "Harmony" product made after the Chicago factory went bust.

It's all-laminate in build and the acoustic tone is thin, though good enough to practice by. The top is lam spruce and the back and sides are lam mahogany.


After the level/dress on the frets I made a new bone nut and replaced the cheesy, original, tuner ferrules with metal ones from my parts-bin. The tuners themselves seem to hold well, though, for old import units.




A while back I compensated the bridge for my buddy to help his intonation. It remains... the same.


The old Strat-style knobs actually broke apart when I was removing the old harness (they'd obviously gotten brittle) and so I installed these 50s-style cream knobs (new, but old-looking) instead. I like the look -- and it matches the trim.






The neck angle is good and the joint is sturdy.


Don't you love that metal jack plate? Easy access for working on the harness...



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