22/01/18 - Restoration now Completed & Delivered to Perry Foster, in Worcester...dubbed the `BIG DADDY of the BLUES' by fellow musicians....the 2nd. Stella 12-string he has had from me..."Happy with that"!
Photos have now been updated to show the guitar following restoration completion.
The last similar Stella H912 I sold, also on "Pre-order", was completed just about 2 years ago, and sent to Mark Braidner in Belfast - https://markbraidner.bandcamp.com/releases - "Mark Braidner specialises in finger style blues and slide playing"....
....AND THE FEEDBACK!
"Yes of course that would be no problem at all quoting for my last email. I meant every word of it and loving the guitar more and more the more that I play it. I must say that it really comes to life when I get the finger and thumb picks on, almost pianoesque if there's such a word and sounding great with the slide.".......and the original feedback verbatim.....
"I'm happy to report that the guitar arrived with me here in Belfast this afternoon.
It was exciting opening the box, I was like a kid at Christmas you could say and I wasn't disappointed when I opened the box up.
First impression was that the guitar looks stunning to me and I could have swore it said 'hello'!
I've now tuned it up, to the open 'C' that I had mentioned and have been playing away on it with it sounding better all the time as the strings bed in.
The action is all but perfect for me. It allows me to play slide easily and also fret the guitar in a conventional way very comfortably.
The neck is smooth to run along and not too wide, I wouldn't have the biggest hands in the world.
I can see the slight blemishes that you mentioned where the binding had separated after the removal of the top but that isn't really an issue at all.
The guitar is in great nick for it's age and I look forward to enjoying many happy hours playing it both at home and in a gigging situation (after fitting a pick up) and I will definitely get a you tube video or two up for anyone interested to take a look at!
Anyway thank you so much for your time and effort into restoring the guitar to such a high standard.
It has been a pleasure dealing with you too Bob. On the ball with your knowledge and concise assessments and always 'keeping me in the loop'. If anyone comes up to me and says to me 'I'm looking a vintage acoustic like that one can you recommend anyone?' I'll most definitely and gladly point them in your direction.
All the best with your future projects, I'm sure you have requests and instruments coming in all the time. I'll keep an eye on your website too and you never know in the future something might grab me! Meantime take care and all the best.
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.
I have two other Harmony Stella 12-string models "in the workshop", another H912 and an H913....exactly the same construction guitar, but with natural finish top....if you may be interested in one of these please contact me.
Stock Number: VTG1516.
..........I rarely get to list these when already up & running and ready for sale...they tend to get reserved before we get there....as this one has! However, as mentioned above, at the time of writing I do have a couple of further Stella 12 strings in stock, waiting for me to begin work on it.
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 body Stella with that classic slotted open headstock, and floating bridge/tailpiece configuration, 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.
In general terms the highly respected professional luthier I work with sees no problem in tuning 12 strings to concert pitch, but the increased tension is great, and these are vintage guitars! I generally fit two alternative stringing options - either with Martin Bronze Light gauge 12-54 gauge needed for the suggested C, or similar tuning, but which must only be used for lowered tunings, or Martin Bronze Extra-light 10-47 gauge, with which you might still want to tune to D and capo.
The model identifier & production date ink stamps are clearly visible. The date stamp reads S-67 indicating that it was made in one of the 1967 production runs. Although it is needing some typical restoration attention, as detailed in the "Condition" section below, the cosmetic finish & hardware condition is really very good for a 50 year old Stella.
The guitar is all original (now with the exception of the replacement bone saddle I have purpose-made & off course the new frets), and as I think you will see from the photos, the cosmetic condition of the finish to most areas of this H912 is really very good for a 50 year old vintage Stella. Inevitably there is some marking and small areas of localised wear & finish loss, including to the painted edge "bindings" and seams.
Slight age cracking is visible to the scratchplate & truss-rod cover. The tuning machines themselves show a fair degree of the usual age-related discolouration, but are working fine. The original tailpiece likewise shows only a degree of discolouration, but is sound, as is the original dyed Maple floating bridge, now with replacement bone saddle I have purpose-made.
The guitar has been restored in conjunction with the very well-respected professional luthier I work with, and work carried out mainly in his workshop and overall under his supervision. In particular the neck joint has been reset. In order to access the neck joint, the fingerboard was removed, lined with hardwood veneer to the underside and re-attached, following the neck reset. It was then re-levelled, maintaining the 16" fingerboard radius alreay existing. Don't know whether this was theoriginal profile, as most examples of this model have flat fingerboards. Anyway, after consulting with Perry Foster, when he "pre-ordered" it, he requested that the radius be retained....the nut and saddle have been adjusted/replaced to accommodate the radius also.
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 usually aim for a 12th. fret action of around 3mm., making it ideal for a mixture of both fretted and bottleneck play, but in this instance it has been set slightly higher, at Perry's request to accomodate his bottleneck playing style, and lower tuning. 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!
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 at 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 no case included, but I do usually have some vintage cases of the type these guitars were originally sold with, although they are covered pressed fibreboard, not intended to last a lifetime, and in variable condition. Alternatively I may be able to supply a virtually unused Hiscox Liteflite hardshell case, offering much better protection, and if I can marry the guitar to a suitable case, I will be please to agree a combined price for guitar + case.