04/12/2017 - Preliminary Announcement - showing photos of the guitar before start of restoration - ready to go "In the Workshop" for restoration & available to "pre-order"!
This is a much rarer 1960 Airline branded variant of the long-running Stella H929, in continuous production by Harmony from 1945 to 1970, without major changes. Airline was the brand of the guitars sold through Montgomery Ward mail order, for which Harmony made large many guitars, based on their own branded models.
The H7026 (and the seemingly identical H8286 model) has something of the characteristic look of the earlier examples of Harmony made parlor guitars, going back to the 1930s....and the cosmetic condition is superb for a guitar which is 57 years old!
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 - VTG1462.
I have sold many '50s and '60s Harmony-made Stella guitars 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 is identical construction to the Stella H929, which 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 all original 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.
The H7026 model identification ink stamp inside is clear, as is the S-60 date stamp, indicating that the guitars was made in one oh Harmony's 1960 production runs.
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.
The Harmony Guitars Database does not currently include full description pages for the guitars Harmony made for other brand names, but entering it as model "Airline 7026" in the HGD search box does bring up a series of photos of this model:-http://harmony.demont.net/search.php
Excellent essentially original condition....finish & colour in my view as good as any I've seen, whether from the '60s, 50s or '40s! - inevitably there is just a very little edge wear to the painted bindings and other edges, but you will not find one with less.... 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 will be further inspecting this guitar with the professional luthier I work with, but I'm hoping that it's preparation for sale can be completed to our satisfaction without the need for major work. There is just a little relief in the fingerboard, which is essential for these guitars to play well, particularly if a bottleneck is employed. Even so, as confirmed under the next heading, the 12th. fret action is as I would prefer it, and I'm hoping to keep it at that setting, without the need to re-level the fingerboard, which would destroy the painted position markings, an integral part of the character of this particular guitar, whilst also refurbishing the original standard dyed Maple unit factory fitted bridge, which has been altered, and does not presently have a true base seating to give best contact/sound transmission with the body top.
The tuners do show some typical age-related discolouration, but work fine. The original standard Stella type metal tailpiece, is in very good shape, with hardly any finish marking, and original wooden endpin is sound. Original wooden nut also remains in place, and will be retained if it is also found to be sound when checked.
On completion of the set-up adjustments we will be looking for an action of around 3mm. at the 12th. fret, which is approximately where the action is at present, and provided it is proved to play cleanly at that I will be happy as I reckon that is ideal for a Stella "all-rounder", good for Bottleneck play, but with fretting aided by the shorter scale length and consequent lower string tension, therefore ideal for a mixture of finger-style and bottleneck play. It already sits at 3mm./3.5mm., which is fine for this type of guitar, to my own thinking.
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 is 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.