1930s Harmony-made "The Prep" Tailpiece Parlor Guitar

This guitar belongs to the same fellow who brought in his Kay archtop for work. Apparently, it's owned by his mother-in-law and it's the only piece of her mother's life left to her. It came to me in "quite a state," but after work it's ready-to-go and playing on-the-dot.

Like the '70 Harmony I just worked on, this is yet another version of the classic Harmony tailpiece flattop parlor made since the mid-late '30s. This one happens to be from that first generation of them, though, and as a result its all-birch body uses thinner wood and thus yields a warmer, fuller tone from the guitar.

Work included a neck reset, seam repairs, a fret level/dress, new nut and bridge, replacement tailpiece, tuner cobbling, brace repairs, and a good setup.

This instrument was obviously loved -- and then neglected.

This has a new bone nut, flat-profile board, and a bigger V-shaped neck profile. There's a hair of backbow in frets 1-5 which makes them buzz a bit when dug-into with a flatpick, but for fingerpicking (which this is best at), it's no trouble at all. I have a feeling that the set of 54w-12 strings I have on it will pull that backbow out in the soontime.

I added side dots -- and how do you like that contrast stencil job on the board?

I made a new compensated, rosewood bridge for it -- but did not put any finish on it to keep it in line with the "washed-out" looks of the guitar itself.

I didn't have any vintage guitar tailpieces on hand, so a period mandolin tail was the best I could offer for "old parts." I took the ball-ends out of the strings and hooked them on the mandolin tabs. The leather strip is to mute overtones somewhat.

Some old repairs meant a few of the back seams aren't perfectly flush, but the ones I did repair went back to where they should be alright.


Nick R said…
The Prep is, of course, a Sears Roebuck Supertone guitar from the late 1930s. These little guitars usually have the innovative "idento" tailpiece which has an art deco look to it- and dominates the lower bout. The bewildering amount of little changes to these guitars you see as sold by Sears is incredible. In 1936 you have the laurel wreath for the Olympics around the sound hole and the next year, a sparayed on pickguard. Then you get this coloured fingerboard and that tailpiece. The idea was that there was a space for a card in the tailpiece- with your name on it. I bought a Harmony Deco painted box with an Idento tailpiece. I really should have sent it back to the seller- there was an unmentioned crack that ran half way around the side! I didn't send it back but I will get a card and write JACKASS on it. I do love the colour and graphics on this model- it's so much fun!
harpon said…
I just bought a "The Prep" with that same painted on "pick guard" and the original "art decco" tailpiece which was the real hook for me- though I've seen it also on some Gene Autry guitars where it does not stand out then. Got the first new set of strings on tonight D'Addario custom light 11/ 52 gauge and it sounds great- already clearly my best sounding slide parlor guitar- my first "stella" style and I see what the talk has been about- not sure if it'll soon see regular tuning, it seems firm enough in open D- did I say it SOUNDS GREAT?
harpon said…