Preliminary Announcement - 21/11/2016 - showing photos of the guitar, prior to restoration, as it came to me.
I really have a particular liking for what are generally referred to as the "Wartime" guitars, which Harmony made, both Parlor & Archtop type, immediately recognizable by the Wooden Tailpiece, rather than the standard metal unit, reflecting wartime metal shortages. Often carrying 1944 to 1946 date stamps, bearing in mind that the USA came into the war much later than the UK, they also coincide with a period when Harmony, already producing a vast number of guitars in Chicago was developing the range of standard models which in many cases ran straight through to the late 1960s, or even further towards the company's final USA demise in 1975.
This development included the range of Stella models following the acquisition of the "Stella" name around 1940, after the Oscar Schmidt company failed. I also have a 1945 dated Stella H929, the first year of production of the iconic Harmony Stella model which was the basis of the many other variants Harmony made for a quarter of a century until 1970, but this Stella H917, whilst sharing the same body size/shape is more of a throw-back to the 1930s models of both the pre-war Harmony & Oscar Schmidt Stella ranges.
Many of the restored vintage guitars I sell are now "pre-sold" - their restoration is completed for a particular buyer who has enquired from previous sales.
Stock Number - VTG1442.
I have sold many '50s and '60s Harmony made Stellas over the years, and I love them, but these 1940s instruments have an enhanced character, akin to their 1930s pre-war predecessors that is characteristic. You still have the soft "V" shaped neck and the slotted headstock of the earlier models, in addition to the All Solid Birch & Ladder Braced construction, which continues up to the last throws of the Harmony USA in the late '60s/early '70s, and gives "that sound" which you just cannot get out of later built guitars.
In fact Jake Wildwood of Antebellum Instruments in the States has indicated in his Blogspot that he believes that the necks on these guitars are from the stock of Oscar Schmidt made parts bought by Harmony along with the Stella name.....see the full details of his slightly earlier H917 on the link included below....and be sure not to miss the Soundcloud clip on the little red arrow just under the main photo....can't get better than a good player's recording on the same model guitar! Many thanks Jake!!
It has the floating bridge/tailpiece which gives an advantage in the ability to make minute positional adjustments in order to optimize 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 original and professionally 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 (which I have in the workshop at present) which is much smaller, but this is the template for the full size model with the standard dimensions which Harmony used for their Stella models right through to 1975:-
Overall length - 36.5"/92.7cm., body with 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 H917 model identification ink stamp inside is just about readable, but the S-45 ink date stamp is very clear, confirming that the guitar was from one of Harmony's 1945 production runs.
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.
Excellent essentially original condition....finish & colour in my view as good as any I've seen for a mid-1940s vintage guitar - inevitably there is just a very little edge wear to the painted bindings, 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 with the original wooden nut broken & minus the original scratchplate, and will be restored with the addition of a replica of the black, two-screw pickguard visible on the photos of the H917s seen in the Antebellum Instruments Blogspot & Harmony Guitars Database. The floating bridge is the standard dyed Maple unit factory fitted to all these guitars from 1945 to 1970, and looks sound. The tuners are the typical wartime 3-on-a-plate version, with minimal age-related discolouration, but appear generally good condition, and work fine. The original wartime wooden tailpiece, referred to above, is also in good condition.
I will be re-assessing the guitar, with the highly respected professional luthier I work with, in the course of the next few days, to determine whether we reset the neck or re-align the fingerboard to give the correct angle. There is very little play wear to the original skinny frets or to the fingerboard, so I'm hoping that whichever of these jobs is completed, both involving removing the fingerboard from the neck, that the fingerboard will go back satisfactory aligned, so that it does not become necessary to re-level the fingerboard, which would involve re-fretting also. We will have to see how it goes! To complete the job a purpose-made replacement nut will be made in Ebony & fitted, in addition the repro pickguard.
On completion of the neck reset or fingerboard re-alignment, 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! Unless otherwise requested, it will be strung with Martin Bronze Light 12-54 strings, and really sounds tremendous - and loud!
There is included what appears to be the original pressed fibreboard case, with a herringbone pattern covering, "Honolulu Conservatory of Music" label inside, in worn condition, with one broken hinge, or alternatively I may be able to supply it with a specially fitted 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.