5/17/2017

1960s Harmony Baritone Ukulele





Pretty mahogany, right? These old Harmony baris don't really get enough credit in the modern market, but they're quite good instruments for their cost, and often look the business, too. This one has some nice figure in the mahogany that just pops in the sun.

I bought this for my father-in-law, who wants to play uke but did not like the spacing of smaller ukes. Baritones have a guitar-player-friendly 19" scale and, provided you use the right strings, can be pitched in the same range as a regular soprano/concert/tenor uke -- which I've done, here, save that the G string is "low G" instead of re-entrant. I used an Aquila 5-string banjo nylgut set for the job (minus the drone string) and it works just fine with no wound strings.


All I needed to do on this uke was cleat/fill one tight hairline on the top, lower the saddle just a hair, and give the frets a very light level/dress job. I also swapped the tuners to guitar-style ones, too. Often I'll need to shave the bridge a bit on these but, thankfully, the neck/bridge angles on this were almost perfect.



I added side dots, too.



The bridge and fretboard are Brazilian rosewood and the nut and saddle are plastic. In the 60s (and very late 50s), Harmony started going to plastic instead of the bone they'd used previously. The bodies also seemed to get a little thicker and the tone a bit more muted. This one, however, has a pretty good sound for its 60s build.




The parts-bin Japanese tuners were, clearly, "good enough for government work."



I'm always a fan of tortoise trim on a mahogany instrument.



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