Ladder Braced, Excellent, Professionally Restored Condition, Great Sound, 4-String Blues/Folk/Banjo Player - "In the Workshop" for Restoration & already "pre-ordered"!

Preliminary Listing - photos showing guitar as it arrived, prior to restoration.

Update - "Pre-order" Reservation confirmed for customer in Yorkshire!

29/03/2020 - Restoration completed! - New set of photos of completed restoration now added! - on it's way to the customer!

If you follow my listings you will know that from time to time (i.e. as often as I can get hold of them) I do list Tenor Guitars regularly, most often Stellas, but also Harmony Sovereigns & Archtones, none of which seem to hang about long at all, and in most cases "pre-sell", before I have completed the work on them - see excellent feedback from buyers!

I am now finding that I regularly "pre-sell" my guitars, at the stage where I am still working on them. This arrangement has now worked consistently well on a steady stream of restoration sales, so I am continuing to list some of the guitars coming through the workshop, in advance of them being fully ready, and welcome further enquiries.
Stock Numbers: VTG1536.

The Harmony made Stella H929TG is the 4-string/Tenor version of the iconic H929 6-string, of which I sell many, but the Tenor is the scarcer animal! Same size body, but with 14 frets to the body join, rather than 12 on the 6-string - actual dimensions are 91.25cm./36" overall length, 45.3cm./17.875" body length, 33.5cm./13.25" max. body width/lower bout, 24cm./9.5" upper bout, 8cm./3.2" body depth front, 9.3cm./3.7" body depth rear, 582mm./23" scale, 31.5mm./1.25" nut width, 37.5mm./1.5" fingerboard width @ 12th. fret.

It has great looks, lots of vibe and historic all-American character - a superb sounding parlor blues guitar, set up for finger-style or for bottleneck playing - an iconic Chicago made, tenor Blues Guitar - all solid Birch, ladder braced construction. The usual Harmony ink date stamp is clearly readable on the 1955 version, made without a scratchplate, but not clear on the later one, which was by then produced with a white scratchplate, now missing on this one, but I may have an original replacement I can fit with the existing screw holes...I think I can see where the stamp may have been, and I have an idea that it might possibly indicate 1963 manufacture, which would tie in with other detailing, which did change in only minor respects over the near 20 year production period.

I have sold a good number of 23" scale Tenor Guitars over the last few years, including Tenor versions of the Harmony Sovereign, Archtone and Stella models, all eminently playable guitars, which have proved outstandingly popular, and include ones I have shipped to buyers in Denmark, Rome and Portugal, as well as to U.K. buyers! The Tenor Guitar has a long and strong heritage in American Music, following early development as an alternative for Banjo players - not only in Blues, but also Bluegrass and Country Music - but excellent for a variety of playing styles, as anyone else who has heard Irish/Celtic tunes played on a Stella Tenor, will appreciate.

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.
The photos now show the guitar following completion of the restoration.....essentially original....the only major departure is that during the course of restoration it was found that the original fingerboard was too fragile to retain, and has been replaced with new Ebony 'board, plus new purpose-made Ebony nut, to replace original wooden one, and the original bridge had previously replaced with new Rosewood bridge, which we have also purpose-made.

Prior to commencement of the work, the guitar was inspected in conjunction with the very experienced and highly respected professional luthier I work with, and all the restoration/repair work needed to restore to fully sound structural & playing condition has been completed, under his supervision, mainly in his workshop.

Nevertheless, vintage guitar restoration work is always prone to spring surprises on you, however well you not only the failure of the original fingerboard, but also during the course of work the the back body seam started to separate, and despite an additional brace patch already having been inserted at the start of work, the original front brace also detached, with a small split at one end.

The original fingerboard proved to be just too fragile, and on removal just broke at fret slot positions. This is not unusual in these pressure-dyed fingerboards....hard as the original Maple timber is, when they have been pressure dyed originally, they do just seem to lose strength over time. We were expecting to line the underside with a strong hardwood veneer, both to give it stability and to enable us to make a small adjustment to the fingerboard alignment. In the event the adjustment was made by employing a thicker Ebony fingerboard, and a lot of hard work with the 18" sanding block to get the thickness differential required from shallower at the nut end to eeper at the soundhole. Dot inlay position markers replaced the original painted on dots.

The body back panel had to be removed, which gave access to re-glue the displaced brace, and after old glue was thoroughly removed to enable good re-jointing, the back was glued back on, with absolutely minimal displacement at the seams.

Rosewood bridge is styled similar to the originals, with new purpose-made bone saddle, but retains the original wooden bridge pins. Original tuners re-fitted, but with vintage correct style bushings/ferrules added.
Action, strings & cases
I expect to set tenor guitars of this type up with a 12th. fret action of 2.75mm./3.25mm., which I think is ideal for a Stella tenor.....this one came out at 2.5mm./3mm., as prior arranged with the buyer. The neck is necessarily very slim, with 1.25"/32mm. width nut, but with a proportionally deep profile, somewhere between a "D" shape and a gentle "V", making playing very comfortable. The buyer requested that the bass & treble outer string slots be set 4mm. in from the fingerboard edge, rather than standard 3mm.

If "Pre-ordered", strings will be fitted in accordance with the customer's intended indicated above, typically, "Chicago" 13/17/26W/34W, "Standard" 10/13/24W/32W, and "Irish" 12/18W/28W/ the event Eagle Music "Irish" Tuning - GDAE Pure Nickel strings have been fitted.

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, with additional factory-fitted internal pads to accommodate the small Stella body size. 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.
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Experts and Tenor Guitar/Banjo players will know far more than I do about the tuning options for Tenor Guitars, but there is also information available on the web, and I previously had a copy of the very useful "Tenor Guitar Chord Bible" by Tobe A. Richards, which I passed on with one of the Tenor Guitars I sold. available on line from Fretted Friends, with chords for CGDA (Standard Tuning) and GDAE (Irish Tuning), as opposed to the Chicago tuning, derived from the 6 string. Various string makers produce string sets specifically for Tenor Guitar, and the excellent Huddersfield based Eagle Music sell their "Eagle-Puretone" dedicated Tenor Guitar Strings in 3 sets:- "Chicago" 13/17/26W/34W, "Standard" 10/13/24W/32W, and "Irish" 12/18W/28W/38W - in both loop end & ball end Nickel & Bronze - I will consult the buyer as to their choice of preferred string gauges, according to the tuning they use.

**** YOUTUBE ****

In addition to the video, which I have embedded here, of David Bristow playing the same model Stella H929TG tenor guitar I restored for him...."Three Fat Ladies" at the Musician, Leicester, you can find more really exiting clips on YouTube, showing what can be done with a Tenor Guitar! We also have the link to the Scotty Moore site, showing "The King" Elvis with his identical Stella Tenor!
Useful links
Harmony Guitars Database - Stella Tenor H929TG
Elvis with Stella Tenor in Frankie and Johnny
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