Preliminary Listing - Photos are of this guitar, prior to restoration, and the guitar has now been reserved on "pre-order" for a customer!
Although over the years it has proved difficult to get hold of these scarce and very much sought after Archtop Tenors to sell. One previous sale was to Traditional Folk Musician, in West Yorkshire.....who was so pleased with the Harmony Stella H929TG that he first had from me, that he came back to me for an Archtone Tenor.
....another Archtone tenor sold to Graham Legge, Sound Engineer & Folk at the Salmon Bothy, Portsoy, whose very rewarding feedback is under the "Feedback" heading opposite.
My tenor guitar sales have been fascinating in regard to the quality of the players who have bought them, in addition to the Archtones mentioned above, I have restored a Harmony Stella tenor for David Bristow, well-known Midlands-based Bluesman. David was extremely happy with it, and footage of him gigging it is now available on YouTube - David Bristow - Three Fat Ladies! Sound is better on the one recorded at the Musician, Leicester.
Another, after being partly rebuilt and restored, sold to Richard Hawley, who has since bought another tenor...this time a Harmony Sovereign H1201TG from me, and again I have been in touch with Richard since, and he was very happy with both of his tenors, and happy for me to use his endorsement.
Amongst further restoration and sales of both Archtone & Monterey archtop tenors, is the Monterey restored and pickup equipped for Mat Barwick of Rusty Shackle....see Archive notes.
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: VTG1551.
The Harmony Guitars Database entry for this H950T tenor version of the iconic Monterey archtop is pretty sparse, but the 6-string version had one of the longest production runs in the history of USA guitar-making, for 34 years from 1938 to 1972, and I previously believed that the tenor version was made from around 1950 onwards, but have now found reference to a 1948 example. The H950 inside ink stamp model identification is clearly visible, but the usual similar, but smaller date stamp is not. However, the lower height of the fingerboard extension above the body confirms this as an earlier date model....certainly earlier than the last one I of the same I recently restored, which had a raised fingerboard extension & the usual Harmony date stamp, reading S-56, clearly visible in that one, indicating that the guitar was made in one of the 1956 production runs.
In the period when this guitar was made, it seems that the tenor guitar, developed early in the 20th. century as a guitar usable by banjo players, was still quite popular, and still made by a few manufacturers, but it appears that Harmony were about the only maker to be producing Archtop Tenor guitars at this stage, with two models, the Archtone, priced at $34.50 in 1958 & $51.50 in 1972, and the Monterey, priced at $46.00 in 1958 & $71.50 in 1972.
In addition to the other Harmony tenors, both Flattop & Archtop, and Stella H929TGs, I have have sold a number of other Tenor Guitars over the last few years - these have included 1960s Kay/Silvertone models and earlier Oscar Schmidt Stella short scale and all Mahogany Kay models. All have been eminently playable guitars and have proved outstandingly popular - so much so that in addition to some of the prominent UK buyers, others have been shipped to Denmark, Germany, Rome and Portugal! Accordingly, as restored examples, like this one will be, are so scarce, I think that this is an opportunity not to be missed by serious Tenor Guitar players!
The condition is essentially original, except that tuner post holes have been enlarged to fit modern heavy diecast enclosed tuners, which are entirely unsuitable to the guitar have been removed, to be replaced either by suitable originals, or new reproduction versions of the originals.
The body and neck of the guitar have been over-painted black, except for the top which retains the original "Redburst" finish. In addition to the structural and other restoration works required, the finish will require considerable work, cutting back the over-painting, in order to get an acceptable finish. On completion of this I anticipate that the cosmetic appearance will be quite reasonable, and as you would expect for an approx. 65/70 year old Harmony archtop, but it is not possible to anticipate, at this stage, whether the original "Redburst" finish on the back & sides can be retrieved....more likely they will remain solid black, which I think will suit the guitar well.
Although I will do much of the time-consuming basic cutting back work myself, beyond that, I will be indebted to the luthier I work with, for some of his excellent partial refinishing work, similar to that completed on a number of my previous restorations, completed after any structural work and the removal of some old, poorly applied over-finish is completed, but in such a skillful manner that it does not look refinished.
Having now undertaken an examination of the guitar, jointly with the professional luthier, to establish the schedule of restoration works we will need to complete, it is not entirely clear whether the guitar has already benefited from a neck reset, due to the over-finishing, but the neck joint does appear stable. However there may be a need to adjust the alignment of the fingerboard, rather than the angle of the neck itself, so in order to gain sufficient string height for the bridge, without excessive action height, we may need to take the fingerboard off, line the underside with hardwood veneer, and then sand to a revised slope, before re-fixing. The less radical method which may possibly available to us is via the re-levelling of the top surface of the fingerboard, which we will need to do anyway in order to remove wear indentations, but taking more material off the nut end of the fingerboard than the bridge end, may be sufficient.
The re-levelling will be needed anyway to remove unevenness & wear, prior to re-fretting. First the back of the body, the joint to which is separating in a number of places, will need to be taken off, linings etc. cleaned off before re-fixing/gluing. This will give the opportunity for inspection of the internal structure & completion of any repairs/re-fixing which may be needed to braces etc.
We will need to either make an entire new floating adjustable bridge, probably out of Rosewood or Ebony, or at least new base to replace the original which has broken in two. As mentioned earlier, appropriate tuning machines will be fitted, and the "Harmony" name logo on the headstock will be restored.
On completion of the restoration I will be looking for the usual set-up I aim for on these archtop tenors of around 3mm. at the 12th. fret, with adjustment on the thumbwheels to raise it if required. Please refer to Main Description section for an outline of tunings & string set gauge options available.
There is no case included with the guitar. I may have an 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 have a virtually unused Hiscox Liteflite case to fit at modest additional cost.