Preliminary Listing - 05/04/2017 - photos of the guitar before overhaul work now added - also see "VTG CURRENT RESTORATION - PAGE 8" details of the same model - VTG1475 on which restoration has just been completed.
Although over the years it has proved difficult to get hold of these scarce and very much sought after Archtop Tenors to sell, I did sell one about 12 months ago to Steve Harrison, a busy gigging Community & Traditional Folk Musician, in West Yorkshire. www.dearmanharrison.co.uk www.facebook.com/AnnieandSteve www.theblackboxband.co.uk
....who was so pleased with the Harmony Stella H929TG that he first had from me, that he came back to me for the Arctone tenor, for the opportunity of the Archtop Tenor.
....and later in 2014 another Archtone tenor sold to Graham Legge, Sound Engineer & Folk at the Salmon Bothy, Portsoy, whose very rewarding feedback is under the "Feedback" heading opposite.
If you follow my listings you will know that from time to time (i.e. as often as I can get hold of them) I do list Tenor Guitars regularly, most often H929TG Harmony made Stellas, which usually don't hang about long at all - with excellent feedback from buyers! Availability of the Stella Tenors is also limited, and I generally don't manage to get more than 2 or 3 a year, and the last one I had in the workshop was pre-sold, and has now been completed and collected by the buyer.
My tenor guitar sales have been fascinating in regard to the quality of the players who have bought them, including one restored as a private project, including levelling the fretboard, re-fretting, re-setting the bridge and new nut, for David Bristow, well-known Midlands-based Bluesman. David is extremely happy with it, and footage of him gigging it is now available on YouTube - David Bristow - Three Fat Ladies! Sound is better on the one recorded at the Musician, Leicester.
Another, partly rebuilt and restored, and in August sold to Richard Hawley, who has since bought another tenor...this time a Harmony Sovereign H1201TG from me, and again I have been in touch with Richard recently, and he is very happy with both of his tenors, and happy for me to use his endorsement.
Also recently one sold to well pleased, and well-known recording artist/singer/songwriter in Munich, Germany, amongst others, including the previous Archtop H1215TGs to both Steve Harrison & Graham Legge.
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: VTG1551.
The Harmony Guitars Database entry for this H950T tenor version of the iconic Monterey archtop is pretty sparse, but the 6-string version had one of the longest production runs in the history of USA guitarmaking, for 34 years from 1938 to 1972, and I believe that the tenor version was made from at least around 1950 onwards. Unfortunately, although the H950 inside ink stamp model identification is clearly visible, it is not possible to locate the usual Harmony Ink Date Stamp. There is the remains of an inside label, which m,ay have concealed it, but I believe that this guitar would probably date from the late 1950s, or if not, from the early 1960s.
In the period when this guitar was made, it seems that the tenor guitar, developed early in the 20th. century as a guitar usable by banjo players, was still quite popular, and still made by a few manufacturers, but it appears that Harmony were about the only maker to be producing Archtop Tenor guitars at this stage, with two models, the Archtone, priced at $34.50 in 1958 & $51.50 in 1972, and the Monterey, priced at $46.00 in 1958 & $71.50 in 1972.
Both the Archtone Tenors I sold last year were sold at £529.00. Although there was a considerable difference in the original maker's pricing at the time this guitar was produced, around 55 years later I don't feel that there is still a proportionate difference in their respective values as playable vintage instruments. As discussed in the "Condition" section below, I am having to restore the finish on this guitar, and whilst it looks like there is good cause for expecting that the finished result will be more than acceptable for a guitar of it's age, I am going to maintain the price of this guitar at the same figure as the two Archtones.
Experts and Tenor Guitar/Banjo players will know far more than I do about the tuning options for Tenor Guitars, but there is also information available on the web, and I previously had a copy of the very useful "Tenor Guitar Chord Bible" by Tobe A. Richards, which I passed on with one of the Tenor Guitars I sold. available on line from Fretted Friends (£10.50 + Postage last time I looked), with chords for CGDA (Standard Tuning) and GDAE (Irish Tuning), as opposed to the Chicago tuning, derived from the 6 string. Various string makers produce string sets specifically for Tenor Guitar, and locally based Newtone Strings produce them in 3 sets:- "Chicago" 13/17/26W/34W, "Standard" 10/13/24W/32W, and "Irish" 12/18W/28W/38W - available on line from the excellent Eagle Music - I will leave the buyer's choice open to fit their own preferred gauge strings, according to the tuning they use, having fitted new Martin Bronze strings from a standard 6 string 12 gauge set....12/16/25W/32W.
In addition to the other Harmony tenors, both Flattop & Archtop, and Stella H929TGs, I have have sold a number of other Tenor Guitars over the last few years - these have included 1960s Kay/Silvertone models and earlier Oscar Schmidt Stella short scale and all Mahogany Kay models. All have been eminently playable guitars and have proved outstandingly popular - so much so that in addition to some of the prominent UK buyers, others have been shipped to Denmark, Germany, Rome and Portugal! Accordingly, as restored examples, like this one will be, are so scarce, I think that this is an opportunity not to be missed by serious Tenor Guitar players!
The guitar will be professionally restored to full structural stability and excellent playing condition....it has already been inspected in conjunction with the highly experienced professional luthier I work with, and the restoration/repairs will be carried out mainly in his workshop & under his supervision.
The condition is original, and the cosmetic appearance is generally very good, and certainly just as good as you could possibly expect to find on a 61 year old Harmony. Naturally there is some typical age and use marking, but nothing detrimental, and minimal for a vintage guitar of this age.
All the components appear original, and in good condition, including the pickguard, which often go missing on these, over the years. The individual tuners, again original, are surprisingly clean & bright & work fine, if a little oddly fitted, so the end/corners of the plates project from the headstock very slightly, but this is typical of a number of previously sold Monterey & Archtone tenors, and does not affect playing.
I could see no sign of other previous repairs to the guitar, but there are detached back brace patches loose inside the body. It will be necessary therefore to remove the back, thoroughly clean off and re-glue/clamp these, with the advantage of the opportunity to inspect all round inside & make sure that all braces, linings & joints are soundly glued, or if not to re-glue them. Following thorough cleaning off of old glue etc., to the joints & linings, the back will be re-fixed & it is hoped that the bindings will be intact in order to refit....if not it will be necessary to fit new bindings & some limited, localised re-finishing work may be needed.
The original nut and the neck angle looks fine, and the fingerboard looks adequately straight. The original thin brass fretwire is in generally reasonable shape, but there is some wear on the first few frets, and a little wear on the fingerboard itself, mainly just between the nut & first fret. We will have another look at whether a light stoning/re-profiling of the original frets will be sufficient, or whether there would be any advantage in re-fretting, which would also allow a little fingerboard re-levelling. The adjustable bridge and tailpiece are also original, in good condition, with only a little age discolouration to the latter.
Following completion of all restoration works we will be aiming for an excellent set-up with an action at around 3mm. at the 12th. fret, which is ideal for a 23" scale tenor guitar, with adjustment on the thumbwheels to raise it if required.....it is already around 2.5mm., so the end result may be slightly lower than I would normally go for. It can be strung with either Eagle-Newtone "Irish" G tuning 12-38 gauge Tenor string set, or their "Standard" tuning 10-32 gauge, as preferred by the buyer.
There is no case included with the guitar. I may have an contemporary pressed fibreboard case to fit, but old cases of this type, are not generally very robust or well-fitting. However, if you would be looking for a hardshell case, offering better protection, I may have a virtually unused Hiscox Liteflite case to fit at modest additional cost.