1960s Harmony H1215 Archtop Guitar

There are a ton of H1215s out there in the world. As a base-model archtop guitar, it must've been pretty popular. When this one was made, in the '60s, Harmony had been building this same-style, all-birch, faux-grain, painted-binding guitar for almost 30 years. This one, however, is a lot cleaner than most of them and came into the shop via the son of a friend of mine. It's all-original save for minor alterations of the bridge.

Work included a neck reset, fret level/dress, bridge modifications, side dots, and a setup with 50w, 38w, 28w, 22w, 16, 12 strings. I used this slightly-lighter-than-light set because even though the necks on these are "reinforced" with a steel bar, they tend to warp if you use heavier gauges on them. It plays perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret and the neck is, for all intents and purposes, straight.

What I like about these guitars is their ruggedness, simplicity, and low cost. What I don't like about these guitars is that their tonal color is very limited. Because the top is solid birch rather than a softwood, they have a very direct, all-mids sound which records nicely but doesn't have the same mwah that even a pressed-top spruce top would have. As a result, I often hear them limited to spanky-sounding country-blues work or -- more commonly -- as guitars modified to electrics.

These have a 15 3/4" lower bout -- not quite a full 16" archtop. The curvy body outline is more pleasing to my eyes than the Kay-style squared-off upper bouts, though.

The nut is 1 3/4" and the back of the neck is a hefty D-shape. The board has a 12" or so radius to it.

While the body is all solid birch, the neck is poplar and the fretboard is some sort of stained hardwood. Note the cross-grain "chattering" typical of Harmony products. Whatever machine they radiused the boards on left these marks on almost everything they made.

I compensated the bridge a little better and adjusted its base and posts for more adjustable travel room.

Harmony really got their "faux-grain" look down by the time this was built.


Unknown said…
Hi i´m from Brazil, nice guitar. Do you know where I find the same pickguard ? my guitar is hamony H1215 1957.