c.1930 Harmony "Toneking" O-18T Clone Tenor Guitar

This is a seriously nice old tenor... c.1930s, made by Harmony for whoever owned the "Tone King" brand name. It's ladder-braced, though the body shape and size, scale length (23") and styling recall 1930s Martin O-18Ts... as well as materials.

It's got solid mahogany back and sides, a poplar? maple? neck, with some sort of medium-colored hardwood fretboard and bridge. It's bound on the top and soundhole with nice tortoise celluloid binding and has a top-notch tortoise celluloid pickguard.

My work included some hairline crack repairs, brace reglues, repairs and reglue to the bridge, new synthetic saddle, adjusting a replacement nut, fret dress, cleaning, and neck reset. It's been through the works... and now plays and sounds like a million bucks, with that dry, punchy, warm ladder-braced tone. Pretty loud, too!

The "washboard" around the pickguard is hella-cool.

The original tuners were long gone, and when I got the guitar had been replaced with various c.1930s/40s friction pegs (4 kinds and two home-made buttons!) -- so, I did a practical thing and replaced them all with some 1960s Levin (Swedish) geared tuners. Fortunately, these Levin tuners look the part of old 1930s high-quality geared tuners of the time, so they fit right in.

Forgot to mention... I have this setup for "octave mandolin" GDAE tuning.

While it doesn't look it, the bridge has two or three hairline cracks which I repaired during the glue-down. I really don't like having to lose an original bridge unless absolutely necessary.

Finish is natural on the mahogany back/sides and a red '30s style Martin-esque sunburst on the top. Looks really, really nice.

Note the giant, ugly hairline crack repair NOT done by me. You can't see the ones that I fixed in the photos for the most part... but man... whoever decided to load up the glue and slather it on... sheesh! Nevertheles, it's solid, and on the back, but still!

Great sturdy tuners.

Totally played-in!

Nice mahogany!

With a cool rosewood end-strip. The strap button is ebony and a replacement.


Unknown said…
Hi Jake,

I know this post is rather old, but I was wondering if you have come across any other "Toneking" models before or since this one. I have a "parlor" model on the way and I'm trying to find anything about them, and this tenor is as close as I can get. The "hump" in the headstock is a dead giveaway, but I can't find any info on this sub-brand. The specs look to be almost identical on the one I ordered as this one. Same finish, looks to be spruce and mahogany. Any info would help. Thank you!