c.1940 Harmony H1220 Sovereign Squareneck Resonator Guitar

Harmony made plenty of bodies for National single-cone instruments but examples of Harmony-sold resonator instruments don't pop up all that often. When I spotted this guy out on the net I remembered it immediately from the repro 1940 Harmony catalog sitting in my stash of reference material near my desk. I flipped through and there it was -- their newly-introduced Sovereign squareneck.

After regluing a brace, a neck-bolt-reset, plenty of cleaning, and a proper setup, I'm actually incredibly surprised at how good this guitar sounds. It's easily comparable to any of the wood-body 30s Dobros I've played with maybe a slightly tighter, less rumbly bass... and this is all with a set of 12s on a short (24 1/8") scale.

The top is thick birch plywood while the back and sides are actually solid birch. The neck is probably poplar and the fretboard is dyed maple. Aside from the top, this is the usual for lower-end Harmony fare. Despite some scratches here and there, the faux-flame finish is still in great shape.


Does that cone look slightly "off" to you? It should! It's a 9" cone in the reverse (Dobro) fashion with a 4-legged spider rather than a full-size Dobro cone with the 8-leg "spiderweb" style spider bridge. The stamp on the coverplate reads as licensed from National-Dobro and my guess is that this is a true-blue Dobro-made cone and spider as it has the same general cut, feel, and hardware style I associate with Dobros (there were full-size Dobro 4-leg spiders like this made as well). It also has a number 5 stamp on the bottom of the spider.

The nut on the reverse side of the cone was missing so I added a cone-shaped washer and nut so that the adjuster bolt in the middle of the spider would be useful.

All-original hardware on this guy. The tuners work fine and this still has its original slip-on raised nut and the original bone nut underneath.

Pearl dots, dyed-maple board.

The coverplate is serious hubcap style on this guy.

As this is a squareneck and a not-too-expensive one at that, I didn't want to fuss with a full-on neck reset to tighten up the joint and thereby improve tone (it was just barely loose -- you could slip a piece of paper under the first 3/8" of the heel). Instead I bolted this guy back with a big old connector nut on the inside.

Hilariously, Dobro started doing a similar thing with their instruments in the 60s and 70s but the bolt ran through the back of the body and into the neck joint instead.

There's the date stamp in usual Harmony style.

...and there's my big old hex nut for tightening up and holding that joint.


Unknown said…
amazing instrument. What do you think your market value would be?
Unknown said…
Hello Jake.
I am looking at one of these myself.
The number inside is 36121219.
It's the H1219 model.
Do you think this would be from 1936 or just the body was made at that date?

Same spider system inside.

Thank you