Selection of "Restoration to be Completed" 1960s Harmony Stella 12-String Guitars, including the H922 Model, reputedly played by Blind Willie McTell towards the end of his career - fully restored prices indicated below or available on request - meantime, showing photos of the selection of models available, before start of restoration - ready to go "In the Workshop" for restoration & available to "pre-order"!
A Full Set of Details of each of the guitars listed can be provided on request, but I have felt for some time that I needed to rationalise the amount of information confronting folks....hope it works for enquirers!
In addition to the 2 Stella 12-Strings I currently have pre-ordered & in course of restoration, I do still have one each of the 3 models....H912, H913 & H922 "in stock".
Although with the longest production period (1940-1964), the H922 is not only the oldest, but the hardest to find of the three Stella 12-string models that Harmony made in Chicago in the years from 1940 through to 1971....during this period of over 30 years nothing really changed...size, construction, etc. stayed the same...just the paint job changed on the H912 (1964-1967) & H913 (1968-1971)!
I am now finding that I "pre-sell" the majority of my guitars, certainly the vintage restoration Stellas and other guitars from the same era. Hence many, but not all of the guitars I have in stock are now listed on the website, in advance of restoration, or the stage where I am still working on them. This "Pre-Order" arrangement has now worked well for a good number of years....buyers reserving guitars coming through the workshop, in advance of them being fully ready, without any formal or binding commitment, and I welcome, and thankfully receive a steady stream of enquiries.
...........I don't remember ever getting to list for sale one of these when already up & running and ready to go...they always get reserved before we get there!
Basically, Harmony made Stella 12 strings are either the earlier Stella H922 (the Blind Willie McTell model!), made through from around 1940, when Harmony acquired the Stella name, up to about 1964, which was followed by the sunburst H912 to 1968, and then the natural/blond topped H913 to 1971....still the All Solid Birch, Ladder Braced 12 Fret to the OM or "Grand Concert", as Harmony termed it, body size Stella with that classic slotted open headstock, still reminiscent of the early Stellas way back - designed to be tuned down for that characteristic 12 String Blues sound - and they are loud!
The original catalogues contains the following caution:- "A 12 string guitar should never be tuned up to regular 6 string guitar pitch, to avoid pulling up the top, or bowing the neck. Experienced players recommend tuning three or four half-tones lower." We have moved on of course since, with lighter string gauges, but it is still the case that these guitars were designed for that spine-tingling detuned sound, often achieved by tuning down to C, or other tunings that were commonly used.
Over the last 5 years I have restored two of these 12-strings for Perry Foster, Bluesman, Guitarist/Singer - "Big Daddy of British Blues"; "The Old Maestro" - http://www.perryfoster.co.uk.....restoration of the rare H922 having been completed in February, 2015 from Perry's pre-order reservation just a couple of months earlier in the December, and more recently Perry had an H912 by the same process.
Apart from being in the ownership of one of this country's foremost & long-established Blues figureheads, the previously restored & sold H922 Stella had some other interesting recent history. In October 2014 I was approached by the prominent London based, Eagle Rock Productions, seeking the loan of that Stella 12-string for filming use in connection with their production in progress and titled "Legend of Lead Belly" film, aired on the 23rd February, 2015 on the Smithsonian Channel in America, and now available on their subscription channel.
Individual condition report and repair/restoration schedules can be supplied for each of the guitars mentioned, on request.
All are in either entirely or essentially original condition....finish & colour in my view as good as you are likely to find on any guitars of this type, ranging between 50 & 60 years old - inevitably there is a little edge wear and minor surface chips/scratches...in the main, really the minimum for a vintage of this type and age, and I've seen quite a few! I hope that you will agree that the photos show that these remain handsome & characterful vintage guitars.
All the guitars are inspected in conjunction with the professional luthier I work with, in order to determine the schedule of restoration works required, whether it may include a neck reset or the need to re-level the fingerboard, on which if we cannot avoid losing the painted position markings, we do have stencils in order to replace them, or alternatives to install dot markers, etc. to retain the character of guitar as much as possible. Major jobs are carried out in the luthier's workshop, and the whole restoration completed under his supervision.
The original tuners do generally show some typical age-related discolouration but, in the main they work fine, amd are retained wherever possible, but if that is not practicable there are good options for repro parts or I do have a stock of original parts to call on. Original very good hard plastic nuts, are re-used whenever possible, but if not practicable replacements are individually purpose-made in Ebony or Bone.
When correctly set up, all the Harmony Stella 12-strings play nicely with the distinct "D" profile neck on the later models, as this one, but all with that 2"/approx. 51mm. nut width & 25 1/4"/642mm. scale length. I aim for a 12th. fret action of around 3mm., making it ideal for a mixture of both fretted and bottleneck play, and will consult with the buyer regarding his anticipated tunings and string it up accordingly. 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!
As mentioned earlier, the usual stringing options are Martin Bronze XL 10-47 gauge strings, necessary if tuning up to or near concert pitch, alternatively Martin Light 12-54, only for lowered tuning, or a third option I used for Belfast Bluesman Mark Braidner's request on the H912 restored for him completed around Christmas 2015 are John Pearse Heavy Gauge 13-56 strings, designed for C# tuning.
There is usually 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. These cases of course do offer much superior protection to the guitar. 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.