Preliminary Announcement - initially photos & description details are of the 1964 guitar (VTG1524), as it arrived, prior to repair/restoration - the second example, more recently arrived, is possibly from 1962 (VTG1556), has the same original model features, and more detailed description can be supplied on request, if I have not first had the opportunity to update the website.
Although with the longest production period, the H922 is not only the oldest, but the hardest to find of the three Stella 12-string models that Harmony made in Chicago in the years from 1940 through to 1971....during this period of over 30 years nothing really changed...size, construction, etc. stayed the same...just the paint job changed!
The last example of this very scarce & difficult to locate model I sold went to Perry Foster, Bluesman, Guitarist/Singer - "Big Daddy of British Blues"; "The Old Maestro" - http://www.perryfoster.co.uk.....restoration having been completed in February, 2015 from Perry's pre-order reservation just a couple of months earlier in the December....I have both Harmony Stella H912 & H913 12-string models, which are the successors to the H922, "in the workshop"....if you may be interested in one of these please contact me - Photos showing this actual guitar were taken before Repair/Restoration work commenced.
Apart from being in the ownership of one of this country's foremost & long-established Blues figureheads, the previously restored & sold H922 Stella had some other interesting recent history. In October 2014 I was approached by the prominent London based, Eagle Rock Productions, seeking the loan of that Stella 12-string for filming use in connection with their production in progress and titled "Legend of Lead Belly" film, aired on the 23rd February, 2015 on the Smithsonian Channel in America, and now available on their subscription channel.
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: VTG1524.
..........I don't often get to list these when already up & running and ready for sale...they tend to get reserved before we get there! At the time of writing I have four Stella 12 strings in stock, all waiting for me to complete work on them.
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, 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-64 indicating that it was made in one of the 1964 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 53 year old Stella.
The guitar is all original, and as I think you will see from the photos, the cosmetic condition of the finish to most areas of this H922 is really very good for a 53 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. There is a bit of a "bruise" on the bass-side shoulder, which it turns out from looking inside is where it appears a small hole has been drilled in the past & not too tidily filled....don't propose to do much with, just colour it down a bit perhaps, but don't see it as detrimental, and certainly no evidence of any cracking.
The tuning machines show a small degree of the usual age-related discolouration, but are working fine. They will be removed and generally cleaned. The originl tailpiece likewise shows only little discolouration and is sound, as is the original floating bridge.
The guitar will be restored in conjunction with the very well-respected professional luthier I work with, and work will be carried out in his workshop and under his supervision. In particular the neck joint will be reset. In order to access the neck joint, the fingerboard will be removed. The fingerboard shows virtually no play wear, but a degree of wear is noted to the first 4 frets. A decision as to whether fingerboard re-levelling and re-fretting may be needed will have to be delayed until the fingerboard is re-fitted, after the neck reset has been completed it's levelness checked, and if needed a refret & re-levelling will be completed, together with any other work required to complete full restoration.
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 aim for a 12th. fret action of around 3mm., making it ideal for a mixture of both fretted and bottleneck play, and will consult with the buyer regarding his anticipated tunings and string it up accordingly. 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!
As mentioned earlier, 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.