Preliminary Announcement - showing photos of the late '40s/early '50s guitar, prior to restoration, as it came to me, without the floating bridge, but with a metal nut riser either glued or long-term fused to the original wooden nut.
The "Wartime" version, would be from the 1944-1946 period....same model & construction details, except fitted with wooden "Wartime" tailpiece rather than the typical metal one, during wartime restrictions on use of metal.
This is a much rarer and earlier example of the long-running production Stella H929, in continuous production from 1945 to 1970, without major changes, but this has the characteristic features of the earlier examples from the 'late '40s & early '50s...including the soft V profile neck, more reminiscent of pre-war/1930s guitars, the old style "Stella" logo, no scratchplate (only fitted late'50s on), and black-button tuners.
The cosmetic condition is superb for a probably 65/70 year old guitar!
I have already checked the guitar over in conjunction with the highly-respected luthier I work with, and it appears that it will require a neck reset, not so much for the usual question of the joint lifting, but from the point of view of alignment. We will re-check this before commencing, but all work found to be needed will be completed in the luthier's workshop, under his supervision.
I am now finding that I regularly "pre-sell" my guitars, at the stage where I am still working on them, and although previously I had my doubts, this arrangement has now worked well in quite a number of cases, so I have decided to list some of the guitars coming through the workshop, in advance of them being fully ready, and welcome further enquiries.
Stock Number - VTG1504.
I have sold many '50s and '60s Harmony made Stellas over the years. There are many variations of the same basic model.....both those under Harmony's own Stella name, and also the various branded versions of basically the same guitar, with different liveries, for the major Stores/Mail Order companies, including Sears' Silvertone brand, Montgomery Ward's Airline brand, and also under the Regal brand, by this time owned by Fender. If you take a look at my current listings and previous sales, you will find a number of these models. This model, the Stella H929 is the iconic original for them all! Built for a full quarter of a century, right through from 1945 to 1970, with really no basic change, just minor cosmetic adjustments through all those years.
It has the floating bridge/tailpiece which gives an advantage in the ability to make minute positional adjustments in order to optimise intonation, which can vary slightly if altered/open tunings are used. Set up for either Fingerstyle Blues or Bottleneck playing - a superb sounding parlor blues guitar, with great looks, lots of vibe and historic All-American character!
It comes in essentially original (but see further advice under "Condition" below regarding sourcing of original Harmony/Stella parts) and restored condition - an iconic Chicago made, 12 fret-to-the-body, parlor Blues Guitar - all solid Birch, ladder braced construction. Sometimes these guitars are mistakenly described as three-quarter size - there is a three-quarter size version of the Stella H929 model (one of which I have in the workshop at present) which is much smaller, this being the full size model with standard Stella dimensions:-
Overall length - 36.25"/96cm., body width lower bout - 13.25"/33.5cm., upper bout - 9.5"/24.2cm., body length - 17.8"/45.2cm., body depth front - 3.25"/8.2cm., rear - 3.7"/9.3cm, with standard Stella/Harmony nut width of 1.75"/44.5mm. - just a tad wider than most modern acoustics - and a 24.25"/615mm scale.
The H929 model identification ink stamp inside is identifiable, but not readable, so I'm afraid we are denied the exact dating, but I would certainly say pre-1954, because that is the latest date Stella on which I can recall a similar "V" neck, but it could indeed be earlier, as the guitar's other characteristics are of one from the late 1940s/early 1950s.
If you are an acoustic blues player and wonder why that top line guitar you bought doesn't sound authentic when you play blues like those of Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell, or Blind Lemon Jefferson, I can tell you why it doesn't and never will! All of those guys and many others from the 30s through to the 60s played Birch bodied guitars, some of them with Spruce tops, some all Birch, but it is the Birch which gives that unmistakable sound. No guitar made today, American or otherwise can give you that sound, for Delta and Country Blues!
If you want a fully functioning, great sounding piece of American musical history, this is it - a really exceptional addition to any collection of Blues/Vintage Guitars.
Harmony Guitars Database page - Stella H929:-
Excellent essentially original condition....finish & colour in my view as good as any I've seen, whether from the '60s, 50s or '40s! - inevitably there is just a very little edge wear to the painted bindings and headstock, but otherwise virtually no finish loss, the very minimum of minor surface chips/scratches...really the minimum I have seen on a Stella of this type and age, and I've seen quite a few! I hope that you will agree that the photos show that this remains a handsome & characterful vintage guitar.
I say "essentially" original as the guitar arrived minus the original wooden bridge, and will be restored with the addition of one from my stock of original Harmony & Stella parts. The bridge is the standard dyed Maple unit factory fitted to all these guitars from 1945 to 1970. The tuners appear in exceptionally good condition....a very little chipping to the black buttons, and working well....I'm trusting that they are original, but very clean if so, and not quite the usual pattern for these guitars....very similar, but if anything looking a slightly older pattern. The original standard Stella type metal tailpiece, is in good condition, with hardly any finish marking.
In addition to resetting the neck joint, we will be re-gluing the seam between the guitar top & treble side, which has partially separated, and after removing the fingerboard in order to access the neck joint, and re-fitting it, we will then need to assess whether it needs re-levelling. If it does we will need to re-colour the stained Maple fingerboard, and install inlay dot position markers, as the original painted on ones would be lost. To complete the job a purpose-made replacement nut will be made in Ebony & fitted.
On completion of the neck reset and any other work found to be necessary, we will be looking to set the guitar up with an action of around 3mm. at the 12th. fret, which with just a tad more string height at the nut/first fret in order to aid bottleneck play, I reckon is ideal for a Stella "all-rounder", good for Bottleneck play, but with fretting aided by the shorter scale length and consequent lower string tension, therefore ideal for a mixture of finger-style and bottleneck play.
Additionally it could also be used for full-time slide with a nut riser costing no more than a few pounds. The sound is typically loud and pokey, just as a Stella should be - a great Bluesy voice! It has "That Sound" in spades - even, woody, bright, clear, ringing tone! It is strung with Martin Bronze Light 12-54 strings, and really sounds tremendous - and loud!
There is no case (although the guitar will be well packed and securely boxed for posting), but I do have the odd period case, and may be able to supply one of the type these guitars originally came in, or alternatively I may be able to supply it with a virtually unused Hiscox Liteflite hardshell case. These cases of course do offer much better protection, but even the smallest case produced by Hiscox does require a couple of their extra internal pads fitting, in order to hold the small guitar correctly. I will be happy to advise whether I can marry the guitar to a suitable case, at the time of purchase, and if so agree with you an inclusive price for Guitar + Case, and adjust the invoice accordingly.