Preliminary Listing - 15/03/2017 - showing photos of the guitar before overhaul work.
17/03/2017 - Reserved as provisional pre-order for a customer from Lancashire, pending completion of the restoration.
01/04/2017 - Restoration Completed - Ready to go! Awaiting collection by buyer. Photos now updated to show the guitar after work completed.
04/04/2017 - Buyer collected - after playing for a good time very happy with it!
.....Newly arrived, and already checked over in conjunction with the luthier I work with.....see "Condition" details below.....this guitar is identical to the 1967 model I sold last year....the buyer phoned me within a couple of hours of the guitar arriving, to say that he had been playing it ever since it arrived & loved it!
Prior to that in the long series of these guitars I have sold over the last decade, another cosmetically different, but same construction was the similar age Regal R200 I completed work on and sold to buyer in Newcastle also last year, whose feedback was....
"The guitar looks and plays fantastic, it has exactly that authentic Blues sound I was looking for. Many thanks for getting it to me so prompt and packaged well for a safe transit. It will be getting used in Blues clubs and events around the North East in the very near future.
The set up and playability is great for such an old girl."
Following the many '60s Harmony made Stellas I have sold, in all their many variations, this one is in the original H929 sunburst/"faux flame" produced for a quarter-century from 1945 to 1970....another of these real "Little Gems" - this one particularly clean and smart - not completely blemishless, but you wouldn't expect a 50, or a little more, year old Stella to be completely mint, would you? Just as near to that as you could get, with superbly original colour to the finish, where so many have faded over the years, and full of historic all-American character!
Stock Number - VTG1550.
I have sold many '50s and '60s Harmony made Stellas over the years. There are many variations of the same basic model.....both those under Harmony's own Stella name, and also the various branded versions of basically the same guitar, with different liveries, for the major Stores/Mail Order companies, including Sears' Silvertone brand, Montgomery Ward's Airline brand, and also under the Regal brand, by this time owned by Fender. If you take a look at my current listings and previous sales, you will find a number of these models. This model, the Stella H929 is the iconic original for them all! Built for a full quarter of a century, right through from 1945 to 1970, with really no basic change, just minor cosmetic adjustments through all those years.
It has the floating bridge/tailpiece which gives an advantage in the ability to make minute positional adjustments in order to optimise intonation, which can vary slightly if altered/open tunings are used. Set up for either Fingerstyle Blues or Bottleneck playing - a superb sounding parlor blues guitar, with great looks, lots of vibe and historic All-American character!
It comes in original (but see further advice under "Condition" below regarding one or two very minor additions) and condition - an iconic Chicago made, 12 fret-to-the-body, parlor Blues Guitar - all solid Birch, ladder braced construction. Sometimes these guitars are mistakenly described as three-quarter size - there is a three-quarter size version of the Stella H929 model (one of which I have in the workshop at present) which is much smaller, this being the full size model with standard Stella dimensions:-
Overall length - 36.25"/96cm., body with lower bout - 13.25"/33.5cm., upper bout - 9.5"/24.2cm., body length - 17.8"/45.2cm., body depth front - 3.25"/8.2cm., rear - 3.7"/9.3cm, with standard Stella/Harmony nut width of 1.75"/44.5mm. - just a tad wider than most modern acoustics - and a 24.25"/615mm scale.
A model identification ink stamp inside is clearly readable, but not unusually for Harmony's mass-production output from this period, it does in fact have the wrong model number...the ink stamp should have....H929 as the last 4 characters, but in fact has....H604. Explanation is that H604 is a Silvertone branded, fixed bridge version of the H929, with identical size/shape Birch body back panel, so if an H929 stamped panel was not immediately to hand..........! The usual Harmony second ink date stamp is not visible, but the scratchplate was not fitted on H929s before 1961 & in 1967 the fingerboard position markers changed, so it was made in one of the production runs between those years.
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.
Excellent original condition....finish & depth of colour in my view as good as you could possibly expect for a 50, or slightly more, year old Stella guitar - inevitably there is just a very little edge wear to the painted bindings and headstock, but otherwise virtually no finish loss, the very minimum of minor surface chips/scratches...really the minimum I have seen on a Stella of this type and age, and I've seen quite a few! I hope that you will agree that the photos show that this remains a handsome & characterful vintage guitar.
I did say previously that it has very minor additions....a Chrome front strap button has been removed from the neck heal and the screw hole filled. I have also be added vintage type ferrules/bushings to the tuners to aid tuning stability/operation, as these were not factory fitted until the late 1960s.
Following checking over the guitar with the very experienced professional luthier I work with, we have had to conclude that hopes of adjusting the guitar for good playability without some form of "surgery" have had to be abandoned. After considering other options, including a full re-levelling of the whole fingerboard, which would involve losing original stencil painted design position markers, or we remove the fingerboard and make the adjustment to remove excess relief in the fingerboard on the underside, thus hoping to retain both the original frets & position markers, I decided to go for the third option, just to re-level and thereby slightly re-align only the fingerboard extension section, beyond the body join.
This still involved re=fretting the fingerboard, which has been completed, together with re-finishing the extension section of the fingerboard, to as near a match to the original as possible....never going to be an exact match but not obvious unless you know you are looking for it.
The only further work completed, has been of an essentially precautionary nature....the addition of a small softwood brace patch to the underside of the top, as a reinforcement, alongside the bass side of the soundhole, where the top shows a very slight rise. We have done this little adjustment on other Stellas on a number of previous occasions....not as an essential repair, but just as reinforcement....the solid Birch timber used in the construction of the guitar, because of the way it as cut from the log, does have this tendency to "ripple" slightly....not a weakness/bowing, but the reinforcement will help counteract any such tendency in this area.
New frets have been stoned level, re-profiled & polished. Localised play wear on the fingerboard itself is really only finish deep. The original 3-on-a-strip machineheads are so clean & bright they could almost be new, and work fine. The original wooden floating bridge are intact; the original metal tailpiece is again bright & clean, and the original nut is also in good shape.
Following completion of the work, the guitar plays nice & cleanly, with the typical "C" profile rounded neck and, at the buyer's request the present action of approx 2.25mm./2.75mm. has been retained. In my view this is a little lower than ideal for a Stella, on which I would normally expect to get nearer to my usual aim of 3mm./3.5mm. action, which with just a tad more string height at the nut/first fret aiding bottleneck play, I reckon is ideal for a Stella "all-rounder". Good for Bottleneck play, but with fretting aided by the shorter 24.25" scale & consequently lower tension, therefore ideal for a mixture of fretting-style and bottleneck play. In this instance the buyer has no requirement for bottleneck play so both the 1st. fret & 12th. fret settings are closer than usual.
Additionally it could also be used for full-time slide with a nut riser costing no more than a few pounds. 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! It will be strung with Martin Bronze Light 12-54 strings, and really sounds tremendous - and loud!
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. 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.