Preliminary Announcement - showing photos of the guitar, in the early stages of the restoration process.
I always look forward to being able to offer another vintage Harmony Archtop....particularly one from their Cremona "family" of models, having sold over the years many other 1960s and older model Montereys, Masters, Broadways from the rangein of USA Harmony Guitars - this one is still in the workshop, but will shortly be completed and ready for sale.
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: VTG1275.
A superb classic Harmony Archtop Acoustic Guitar from their top-line professional "Cremona" range, originating around 1935. Although some Cremona models remained in production until the early 1950s, and this particular one is dated 1946, this is essentially an iconic 1930s Chicago-made archtop guitar.
Constructed from All Solid Woods, particularly boasting a Carved Spruce Top and Maple Back and Sides, with Brown Sunburst Finish, and Original Tortoiseshell Pickguard. The usual original inside ink date stamp is visible, S-46, confirming that it was made in one of the 1946 production runs.
Described in the Harmony Guitars Database as having 16.5" body, rather than the 15.5" of some Cremona models but, like other similar guitars I have had from this period, particularly a top-of-the-line H1456 Monterey, coincidentally also carrying the S-46 date stamp, and the body width is actually measures close to 16.25".
Clearly the Harmony Guitars Database (see link below) listing, giving the dates 1935-1940 does not reflect the full span of production dates for the Cremona IV.....the photos there include a 1945 dated example with "wartime" wooden tailpiece, although this 1946 example may be about as late as they get?
On completion of the restoration this will be a fully playable archtop guitar with all the character that can only come with a vintage 1930s/1940s guitar. Unlike some of it's contemporaries, the neck is a very comfortable "C" profile with the standard Harmony 1.75"/44.5mm. width nut.
Substantially original, the guitar has had some past workshop repairs and minor fittings alterations. The original "wartime" wooden tailpiece had been replaced by a rather sub-standard metal unit. The 1946 Monterey H1456 I mentioned above also carried an original "wartime" wooden tailpiece. These were only used around 1944 to 1946, due to Wartime metal shortages, but in the opinion of the luthier I work with, on that particular guitar produced a distinct advantage tone-wise! I have managed to locate an original Harmony wooden tailpiece from that short period from the USA, and the restoration can be completed either with that wooden tailpiece or a suitable metal tailpiece from my stock of original parts.
The tuners are the other parts affected by alterations....one complete non-matching individual machine & three of the others have probably had replaced buttons....no bad thing, as the remaining two buttons a badly shrunken and definitely do need replacing also. This could be readily done, but the chances of matching a single machine to re-complete the set of these wartime tuners is slim. If, as I suspect, it is not possible, a new set of Stewmac Golden Age tuners are a direct slot-in for these originals & will preserve the style, whilst giving new machines efficiency.
A rarity on a 1940s archtop....the original pickguard is intact! Not sure about the black coloured bracket, but it is in keeping...just need to banish a couple of cross-head screws! The adjustable wooden floating bridge is probably original....not sure whether it has been reduced in height in the past & if so whether too much....if so, may need to purpose-make a replacement top section.
The photos of the guitar were taken in the early stages of the restoration work, in that the fingerboard & nut had already been removed, in readiness for re-setting the neck joint, as the neck angle wass not adequate. The neck has now been taken out, and both parts of the neck joint, together with the fingerboard underside & the neck seating will be thoroughly cleaned off to remove all old glue to ensure complete re-gluing adhesion on re-setting the neck & re-gluing the fingerboard. The original bone nut will be re-fixed if possible, or a new bone one purpose-made and the fingerboard will be re-levelled and re-fretted.....on completion of which it should be like playing a new guitar, but with 70 year old character!
Structurally, it is clear that the guitar has benefited from past workshop attention....back & side cracks has been reinforced with wooden cleats....looks like a professional job, but almost over-engineering, if such a thing is possible in guitar repair! To do that work the back must have been taken off, and now the bindings are generally partly loose & slightly displaced...they have probably shrunk, but I can't fully tell how well the back panel has been re-fitted, without removing the binding. The binding will certainly require removing & re-fitting, but whether the original bindings can be removed/re-fitted, or whether they have become too brittle remains to be seen. If so new bindings will be fitted & coloured down so that they don't shout at you!
Prior to this point a decision can be made as to whether it is necessary to remove/re-fit the back itself, which of course would enable us to inspect fully the internal work previously done. if there is any degree of doubt, we always go for the best option for the long-term security of the guitar, so I guess it is likely that we will be re-opening the guitar to be fully satisfied with the end result. The only other minor jobs I can see, to be completed with the binding work, is making/fitting a new heal-capping, and replace missing endpin.
Cosmetically the guitar is not bad for it's age....the cracks have been mentioned but they have been previously secured & are not prominent...slight localised finish darkening will help a little. Otherwise some degree of scratching/chipping as is to be expected, but nothing detrimental or unsightly. The celluloid headstock face has taken a bit of a knock at the top, but these things are honest wear & tear & it is not our practice to be touching-up or re-finishing away the character of vintage guitars like this.
On completion of the restoration, we will be looking to set it up with a 12th. fret action of approx. 2.5mm./3mm., with floating bridge adjustment on the thumbwheels to raise it if required. I will liaise with the buyer regarding string choice, if different from the Bronze 12 gauge strings I would usually fit as stock.
There is no case included with the guitar. I may have a vintage, but not contemporary pressed fibreboard case to fit, but old cases of this type, are not generally very robust or well-fitting. However, if you would be looking for a hardshell case, offering better protection, I may be able to supply a Hiscox Liteflite case to fit at modest additional cost.