6/07/2017

1960s Harmony H162 000-Size Flattop Guitar





H162s are no strangers to me and, for various reasons, they're quite popular in the "low-brow" vintage market. They're 000 in size (15 1/4" on the lower bout), have a middlingly-long 25 1/8" scale, and have bodies made from solid spruce and mahogany, necks of poplar, and fretboards and bridges of Brazilian rosewood. The necks even have non-adjustable steel rods in them which tend to keep them more-or-less straight, too.

While these specs are close to something like a Martin 000 on paper, the design is quite different and these Harmony boxes are ladder-braced, have a decidedly punchy/midsy response, and absolutely sound best as country-blues/folksy fingerpickers -- though the flatpicked tone is even and chunky with a lot of snap, which works for folks who played "old-timey" music quite well. The necks have 1 3/4" nut width, 10" radius to their boards, and medium C-shaped profiles which also make them handle differently from Kalamazoo or Nazareth guitars, though I suppose the shape is similar to some early-'50s Gibsons.


This particular guitar came to me, all-original, from a friend who picked it up locally while flea-marketing. I bought it from him and then did a neck reset, fret level/dress, side dot install, reglue of the pickguard, a bridge reglue, and mod of the bridge to a drop-in saddle slot. The bridge then got a quite-tall bone saddle that's properly compensated.

It's now playing right on spec with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret, a straight neck, and strung with 52w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12 strings. It feels good and handles nice and easy.

There are no cracks on the guitar, and as stated, it's all-original save the new saddle and saddle slot. The tuners are lubed and function well, the bridge has oodles of back-angle on the saddle and adjustment room for the future, and is ready to go. The only issues are some mild use-wear and scritchy-scratchy here and there on the body, some waviness to the wood on the lower-bout back, discoloration at the side of the heel where I reset the neck, and the fact that the fretboard extension dips down quite a bit past the neck joint as I didn't bother to shim it when I did the reset -- who plays past the 15th fret on an H162, anyway?



The fret dots are faux-pearl plastic and you can see the usual fret-direction tooling marks all over the board. Harmony used some crazy sort of machine to radius their boards and, as I've noted in previous posts on Harmony products, this tooling wear gets worse and worse the farther these instruments get from the 1930s.




The original bridge was re-used during the reglue and the bolts in the wings are original equipment.


The drop-in saddle slot is quite deep to support this tall, compensated bone saddle.


Just like style-18 Martins from the time, these Harmony boxes have cool, tortoise binding on the top and back edges.



The solid mahogany that Harmony used on their instruments from the '20s through the '70s is almost always glorious-looking, lightly-curly (here and there), pretty stuff.










The focus is on the center of the back -- where you can see small wavy distortions to the back wood in-between the braces on the back. I see this from time to time on various guitars and it's absolutely no problem. The braces are all firmly glued and there's no cracking.

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