Thursday, 6 November 2008

Harmony 1930's

This is a very interesting old Harmony guitar made sometime in the 1930's.

I am certainly no expert on these guitars - its not often I get guitars in of this age to look at.

There are no markings on it anywhere to indicate a model but I'm sure there's someone out there who can help with that.

She belongs to a well known Kiwi songwriter and performer and I'm pleased to say she gets gigged regularly. So many vintage guitars never get played and I feel its a real shame - they're not ornaments! He's brought me the guitar for me to check the electrics out before it goes on a US tour with him. There's no actual fault with it but its prudent to get it checked in case any wires are just hanging on by a thread. Equipement failiure on stage is rather embarasing.

It has two pickup systems fitted. The bridge is wooden and has a piezo pickup built into it. This is great at picking up the higher frequency more percussive aspects of the tone but as it's only really 'hearing' vibration from the strings doesn't give the full picture.

The under saddle pickup is run through a Barlolini preamp which has a fixed eq setting. Its a great little system and it warms up the otherwise harsh piezo sound nicely. All the wires going to it are sound and have heat shrink over the connections which helps prevent bad connections.

Undersaddle pickups have a sound which tends to be all top and bottom. They have a jangly sparkle at the top end and preamps give thay a boomy rich bass but they can lack mids. So this guitar has a magnetic pickup fitted accross the soundhole. This gives a good midrange sound although can sound too much like an electric guitar at times. The guitar is fitted with a blend control so you can decide how much of each pickup system you want, and a volume control. The volume and tone are the most likely places for bad connections.

I took both the potentiometers out and removed all the connections, cut and stripped back the wire and re-soldered them all. I applied heat shrink to all the connections as well. Its important to tin the wires before connecting them.

This is simply applying solder to the bare wire which insures a thorough and deep solder joint. If the wires aren't tinned first it is more likely that there'll be a 'dry joint'. This is simply a joint that although looking ok is not connected properly. Dry joints are harder to track down than broken joints which is why I'm replacing all the soldering on this guitar to make sure its all sound. Since starting this blog I've heard the U.S. tour went well and they're touring Europe now. I'm still here though.


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