Restoration to be Completed Listing - fully restored the price will be £599.00 - meantime, showing photos of the guitar, prior to restoration, as it came to me.
Over the years I have sold a good number of examples of both the All Solid Mahogany H165, and the Harmony H162....the Spruce topped equivalent....an H162 I sold a couple of years ago went to Dave Beckett - Acoustic Blues & Roots - http://www.deebeeblues.com/....who came all the way up here from Surrey to try it out, and went back with the H162 and also a nice little 1930s Harmony parlor. He was very happy with the H162, and last I heard had fitted an L R Baggs pickup & was gigging with it. You can see Dave's guitar - VTG1477 - if you select the VTG SALES ARCHIVE *** BLUES VINTAGE OM/GRAND CONCERT GUITARS *** HARMONY USA ACOUSTIC MODELS FROM 1950S/1960S/1970S page. I am always keen to be able to offer examples of either model....two of my favourite guitars.
This same model, All Mahogany Harmony H165 was at one time one of the weapons of choice for Lightnin' Hopkins......see the embedded YouTube video clip of him playing one! Indeed an earlier buyer of one of my restored H165s left the following feedback - "Without doubt the best guitar I've ever played and Oh boy have I played some"!
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: VTG1552.
A classic Harmony H165 Flattop Acoustic Guitar, made in Chicago, from All Solid Mahogany, Top, Back and Sides. The usual inside ink date stamp is visible, showing S-70, therefore made in one of the 1970 production runs. During that year the model changed to the H165-1, with detailing alterations, so this is one of the last of the well-known and loved H165 model in it's original form......one of Harmony's longest running iconic models, first made as far back as 1944, and part of the "family" of Harmony models which also includes the Spruce/Mahogany H162, OM size or "Grand Concert", as Harmony labeled them, both beloved of many bluesmen of the time, for there sound quality and sheer playability, including Lightnin' Hopkins on a similar H165.....see YouTube clips!
With it's all solid Mahogany, ladder braced body, with the original eggshell finish, the components all appear original. 1970 production date means that it is one of the H165s from the last couple of years production which were the only ones to have a factory fitted adjustable trussrod, as opposed to the non-adjustable Steel Reinforcement Bar fitted to earlier models, and also has original "bootlace" tuner bushings/ferrules, which were only factory fitted from the late 1960s. The Solid Mahogany top has some very nice grain and figured markings, as do the Solid Mahogany back and sides, and original dark tortoiseshell pattern scratchplate is intact, with typical light play wear marking.
I am very enthusiastic about this family of Harmony guitars, which I think rival many far more exalted and expensive USA made acoustics in terms of tone, volume and sheer playability - an ideal addition to any collection of blues/vintage guitars!
Overall, the general & cosmetic condition is considered to be as good as you will find on a nearing 50 year old vintage acoustic, as I hope you will see in the photos! Inevitably there is superficial and local slight marking and small chips, but all really minimal for a guitar of it's age. The original tuners show only a little age-related discolouration, and work fine.
Close inspection of the guitar, along with the top-flight professional luthier I work with, has revealed some interesting points to this guitar, nothing too difficult to fully correct, and indeed a fairly minimal restoration, as they go. The work required will be completed mainly in the luthier's own workshop, and entirely under his supervision.
After a further detailed assessment of the guitar, with the luthier, it does appear that the neck joint has indeed already been reset, the neck angle appears good, the fingerboard reasonably straight, possibly to be improved by small trussrod adjustment, and very little play wear is visible to the frets or the Rosewood fingerboard. The neck reset appears to have been competently done & is entirely stable. It is just a slight pity that whoever did the job, has not managed to get a good fit at the sides of the body & neck heal, leaving a small gap on the bass side. We are satisfied after further inspection, and about 3 months settling time in the meantime, that this can indeed be treated as a purely cosmetic issue. Whereas we do not usually like to be overly concerned by minor cosmetics, we feel that this particular issue is readily resolved by carefully shaping & fitting a fine fillet of Mahogany veneer, which will close the small gap, and be barely visible.
Although as mentioned there might be a small fingerboard adjustment available via the trussrod, the action is just a little higher than desired....not hugely so, but the principle reason for that is the rather tall & apparently slightly out of correct position bridge. This bridge is original and does not have the twin factory-fitted bridge bolts, characteristic of these bridges for so many years, but omitted at the end of the production period for these very long-produced guitars.....a very nice coloured piece of Rosewood, and is the string through type always fitted in H165s & a few other Harmony models.....nice for easy string changing.
This issue would be even easier to resolve had the Harmony factory put the bridge on straight! The bass end of the bridge is about 4mm. forward of the treble end! These anomalies do make for extra work for me, but I have to take delight in the fact that just a few of the massive numbers of guitars which Harmony mass-produced in their post-war 30 year run of production, did come out of the factory with these errors.....to me it doesn't make them poor guitars.....it does mean that I get the chance to work on vintage guitars, of various type that I love, which in these instances have often had very little play wear. It must have been clear to any good player that this guitar would not intonate properly from day one! I have yet to check whether it is the bass side, or the treble which is correctly positioned, but the strings towards one end or the other (or maybe both if the correct scale length is in the middle of the bridge) must have gone progressively out of tune as you went up the neck.
The solution we look like adopting to cover the misalignment & height issues, is to remove the original bridge, and replace it with a new bridge, which we will purpose-make. This bridge will have to have an oversize footprint/base to cover the mis-angled original fixing position, but also we will make it lower, to help with the string action set-up, but particularly it will be a pin-bridge, therefore improving the transfer of string tension a s described earlier. Again on a second detailed inspection, what appeared to be a very slight "shaping" of the top, is in fact really a very slight forward lean on the overly tall bridge. Examination of the bracing & bridge patch under the top indicates that all is securely in place, so we are concluding that the bridge design and height are the issues, and that the new bridge with larger footprint, lower height will be the appropriate remedy.
Unless the luthier can come up with an alternative better solution, and although I prefer wherever possible to maintain originality, in this case I am confident that the alteration is entirely the correct thing to do. We have made similar replacement bridges on a good number of occasions, and I'm sure that when the work is finished, this will be one of the nicest H165s I have restored and sold - I make no secret of the fact that I think these guitars are special, and I think that the next owner of this one will have an exceptional guitar.
When properly set-up these guitars always play very well, with a comfortable "C" profile neck and following the neck reset, I will be looking for a good action of around 2.5mm./3mm. at the 12th fret.....it is almost there at 3mm./3.5mm., prior to trussrod adjustment & bridge replacement. This should give scope for both fretted and Bottleneck playing, although a nut riser can be bought for a few pounds, if you wish to use the guitar for lap/slide playing at times. It has the standard Harmony 1.75"/44.5mm. width Nut, and 25.25"/641mm. scale length. It will be strung with a set of Martin Bronze Light 12-54 strings.
The is no case included, but I may be able to offer additional options of period or modern hardshell cases (including Hiscox Liteflite), or a gigbag, and the guitar will be packed securely for postage.