Preliminary Listing - available for pre-order, pending completion of restoration!
Update....photos of this guitar during the process of restoration....apologies, they are not up to usual standard, but the neck joint having been separated, the neck, fingerboard, nut & scratchplate had to be temporarily put loosely in place for photos to be obtained.
Over the years I have sold more examples of the Harmony H162....the Spruce topped equivalent, than of the All Mahogany H165, although I have sold a number of them, but the last was now over 2 years ago....indeed the last H162 I had sold about 18 months ago. That guitar was sold to Dave Beckett - Acoustic Blues & Roots - http://www.deebeeblues.com/....who came all the way up here from Surrey to try it out, and went back with the H162 and also a nice little 1930s Harmony parlor. He was very happy with the H162, and last I heard had fitted an L R Baggs pickup & was gigging with it. You can see Dave's guitar - VTG1477 - if you select the VTG SALES ARCHIVE *** BLUES VINTAGE OM/GRAND CONCERT GUITARS *** HARMONY USA ACOUSTIC MODELS FROM 1950S/1960S/1970S page. I am always keen to be able to offer examples of either model....two of my favourite guitars.
This same model, All Mahogany Harmony H165 was at one time one of the weapons of choice for Lightnin' Hopkins.....see embedded YouTube clip of him playing one! Work is in progress to complete the neck reset and other work, in Professional Luthier's workshop, as described in the Condition section below. Indeed an earlier buyer of one left the following feedback - "Without doubt the best guitar I've ever played and Oh boy have I played some"!
When restoration is complete, this guitar should be equally good. 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: VTG1390.
A classic Harmony H165 Flattop Acoustic Guitar, made in Chicago, from All Solid Mahogany, Top, Back and Sides. The usual inside ink date stamp is not visible, but all the details of the guitar suggest a mid-1960s date. This is one of Harmony's longest running iconic models, first made as far back as 1944, and part of the "family" of Harmony models which also includes the Spruce/Mahogany H162, OM size or "Grand Concert", as Harmony labeled them, both beloved of many bluesmen of the time, for there sound quality and sheer playability, including Lightnin' Hopkins on the H165.
With it's all solid Mahogany, ladder braced body, with the original eggshell finish, the components all appear original, except for the possible need to install new frets, if the fingerboard requires re-levelling after re-fitting, and the need to install a new saddle.
I am very enthusiastic about this family of Harmony guitars, which I think rival many far more exalted and expensive USA made acoustics in terms of tone, volume and sheer playability - an ideal addition to any collection of blues/vintage guitars!
Overall, the condition is considered to be as good as you will find on an approx. 50 year old vintage acoustic, as I hope you will see in the photos! Inevitably there is superficial and local slight marking and small chips, but all really minimal for a guitar of it's age. The Solid Mahogany top, back and sides have some very nice grain and figured markings, and original red tortoiseshell pattern scratchplate will be re-fixed.
The restoration work already in progress, will be completed primarily in the workshop of the highly respected luthier I work with, and entirely under his supervision. This includes re-setting the neck joint, for which the fingerboard has been removed to access the joint, and the neck has already been removed, and will be reset to give a good neck angle and playing action. Following this, and re-fitting the fingerboard, a decision will be made as to whether it is necessary to re-level the very nice Rosewood fingerboard or not. If so, this will require the removal of the original frets, although neither these nor the fingerboard show any significant degree of play wear, and re-fretting. Some of the fingerboard dot inlays will need to be replaced.
The other job to be completed is the stabilisation of a bass-side, lower bout side crack. This will be inspected with the highly-respected luthier I work with to confirm the extent of reinforcement needed and access required to complete a sound repair, in particular whether or not it will be necessary to remove the back for this purpose, or not. We have repaired similar H165 side cracks before....the original construction does incorporate a couple of side reinforcements, and it will just be a case of fitting & gluing in as many similar wooden vertical side braces as we find to be required. On completion of the work the side will be stable, and the crack-line only visible on close inspection.
The string through bridge is intact as originally fixed, but the original saddle is cracked and a new Bone one will be purpose-made & fitted. I am expecting to be able to refit & adjust the original nut. The original machineheads/tuners remain reasonable bright, with minimal age-related discolouration, and unusually for a mid-'60s Harmony of this type, have ferrules/bushings already fitted....usually Harmony did not fit these on this model until later in the 1960s.
As my luthier colleague is prone to saying, when we have finished with them, they are better put together than the day they left the factory 50 years ago, and in this case result will be a very nice example amongst the many H165s I have restored and sold - I make no secret of the fact that I think these guitars are special, and I think that the next owner of this one will have an exceptional guitar.
When properly set-up these guitars always play very well, with a comfortable "C" profile neck and following the neck reset, I will be looking for a good action of around 3mm. at the 12th fret. This should give scope for both fretted and Bottleneck playing, although a nut riser can be bought for a few pounds, if you wish to use the guitar for lap/slide playing at times. It has the standard Harmony 1.75"/44.5mm. width Nut, and 25.25"/641mm. scale length. It will be strung with a set of Martin Bronze Light 12-54 strings.
The is no case included, but I may be able to offer additional options of period or modern hardshell cases (including Hiscox Liteflite), or a gigbag, and the guitar will be packed securely for postage.