1950s Harmony H1214 Hollowbody Electric Guitar (Modded)

Update Oct 22: Been using this for about a month and enjoying it -- it's kept nice and tidy and the only change to it was to add a little dot marker on the top to indicate volume position. I've updated the info where necessary.

I bought this guitar from a friend of mine and it was ratty when he brought it in -- with two loose braces, sloppy seam repairs, a warped top, a neck needing a reset (or, rather, a solution), frets needing a level/dress, and all that other fun stuff that one can assume needs doing on a lot of old Harmony boxes. Because of all the condition issues I knew I didn't want to run this as an acoustic after work (not to mention these don't really sound the best acoustically).

I fixed it all up and then installed a GFS "Mean 90" (P90 in a humbucker housing) pickup, Gibson-style bridge, a volume control, and a Switchcraft jack. The bridge is a partser but it works just fine. 

Yes, the banana-yellow, faux-flame, painted-binding finish is what makes this a winner for me. It's like a "very poor man's" ES-125 from the early 50s, though with the option to adjust the pickup height.

The 1 3/4" nut's original but the old tuners had to go...

I also added black side dots. The board itself is stained maple with a light radius and the scale is the usual Harmony 25 1/4" -- though I find this scale runs from 25 1/8" to 25 1/4" depending on who cut the frets day to day.

The neck profile is big and V/C in shape.

The pickup cover is nickel so it matches the tailpiece and tuners. The Mean 90 sounds really good as far as I'm concerned -- articulate but aggressive -- and can pull off a good clean/mellow 40s jazz tone if you like, too, depending on amp settings.

The "binding" is all painted-on. Some seams were reglued in the past a hair off and so there's "creep" in some spots. All is glued-pat but I mention for fullness' sake.

I "reset" the neck with a big old drywall screw into a strap button. It works -- well! I needed to keep my input of time on this to a minimum and the neck angle was good in the first place. This just gives me assurance that it won't get wonky after service.

The fretboard extension dips down past the 14th fret, though.


Robert Gardner said...

This is a great post, Jake. As Jesus cleansed the lepers, so do you sometimes reach out into the netherworld of guitars and bring some humble candidate (like this old Harmony) back from the abyss. Every guitar, after all, cannot be born a Banner Gibson…

I love the silk-screened logo on the headstock and scratch-plate too as well as the “flamed maple”. In the end, a noble little guitar brought back into the world of the living. Great work!

Jake Wildwood said...

Thanks, buddy!