6/02/2016

1967/2016 Harmony H162 Acoustic/Electric Bass Guitar





This was a Memorial Day project to satisfy my own curiosities. I picked the guitar up down in Quechee and at the time it was an all-original, clean, no-cracks, H162 needing a neck reset, new saddle, and fret work. I'd decided on the way home, however, that I was going to make it into a plugged-in acoustic bass. Why? Why not? I had a brand new set of short-scale flatwound bass strings hanging around -- any they needed a home.

Work included a neck reset, bridge modification, a light fret level/dress, headstock alteration, mod of the original nut, and pickup install. It's turned-out really well, too, with a plugged-in tone that flits between a sort-of bluegrassy upright bass "thump" when played up near the fretboard extension and a more jazz-fusion boo-ba-dee-doo, wah-wah-wah sound when plucked near the bridge.

It's its own thing but it's certainly a better match for playing with acoustic musicians than something more traditionally electric -- and it doesn't have that terrible string feel of something like a U-bass. With a 25 1/4" scale length, this plays about like an old Supro/National/Airline "pocket bass." You need a bit of a light touch get the most out of it.



Note the duct-tape on the low E? Yes, I burst the windings on the small diameter of the tuner shaft and they started to unravel. Grr! At least it's patched. The nut is the original -- repurposed.

The little metal bits above the old, filled tuner holes are actually for the next time I string it up so that the cloth-wrapped "afterlength" on the strings will be able to run around them like pulleys and down to the tuner itself, thus eliminating the problem of the flatwound section of the strings wanting to unwind around a bend.


I added side dots to the Brazilian rosewood board.


The pickguard also got a reglue.


The leather cover serves as a wrist rest (if you need it) and also a handy thing to hold dampening foam with.

A 2-sensor K&K pickup is what gives this thing its sound.


I have a string-through-back design for the strings (I know, right?) and the "saddles" are simply screws set at the correct compensated points. To raise/lower action one just needs to pop the string off and turn the screw this way or that way. It works like a charm.

Harmony bolted these bridges in place and I used the old bolt holes to attach my leather cover.

Note the filled pin-holes and old saddle slot.


The old 60s Harmony acoustics have such cool old tortoise binding...


...and some really nice solid mahogany, too. Check out the nice curl in the back on this one!



These mounting-holes for the strings are just aft of one of the back braces and so they're entirely supported. I have no idea why I wanted to do this, but I had to try it. It keeps the look simple up top and removes a tailpiece load, at least.


I used the remaining (functional) original tuners from my J-25 ASB on this project.


A couple of vintage-style strap buttons keep the look 60s.







Harmony endblocks can be very thick and so the K&K pickup's jack couldn't mount the supplied "strap button" jack-end thing -- hence the additional strap button.

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