3/17/2018

1939 Harmony-made Supertone Gene Autry Round-Up 000-Size Guitar




This guitar has been holed-up in its case for a little over a year. When it first came in, I unpacked it and said a silent whoa there! to it. This has to be one of the cleanest old '30s Harmony products I've had a chance to work on. There are no cracks, the finish is practically flawless, and the Gene Autry script on the fretboard (it's a stenciled paint job) is perfect. Usually it's pretty worn-out on this model.

Harmony made this for the Sears Supertone line starting in '39 and said line was renamed Silvertone the next year. It was a more-deluxe companion model to the more-seen 00-size 14-fret Gene Autry flattop and a herd of budget-oriented, stenciled "parlor" student Gene Autry models -- all made by Harmony.

Folklore on the net says these are spruce over maple, but the back and sides on this (as on all the ones I've seen around the net) are birch with faux-grain painting. It's an unusual guitar for Harmony in that it's a flattop but shares the body shape of their 15" archtop guitars. It's thus sort-of a "mini-jumbo" shape that has the airspace and sizing of a 000 guitar. It was advertised as a "Grand Concert" model.  Harmony used this "transition" shape on their H162-style models in the '40s but not beyond. Compared to the 00 versions, it's much warmer-sounding and fuller than many ladder-braced Harmony boxes. When playing it, I actually didn't feel like I was playing a ladder-braced guitar as it doesn't have the distinctive snap or slightly-cluttered overtones in standard tuning I associate with bigger ladder-braced guitars.

Work included a neck reset, fret level/dress, new bridge and saddle install (the originals are always splintered into bits because when they dry-out over time, the ebonizing agent in them kills the wood), side dots install, and setup. I have it strung with 50w-11 strings and it's plenty loud with them. Action is perfect with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE height at the 12th fret.

Specs start with a 25 3/16" scale and 1 11/16" nut width -- coupled to a deep, thick, soft-V neck profile. The board itself has roughly a 12" radius to it which makes that part of the playing a little more modern. It's a big neck front-to-back, though -- larger than your average Kalamazoo box. The body is 15" on the lower bout and 11 1/8" on the upper with 3 3/4" depth at the endpin. String spacing at the nut is 1 1/2" and 2 1/4" at the bridge.



Everything is original on the guitar except for the bridge, saddle, and endpin. The nut is bone.


The stencil is punctured here and there with pearl dots. Check out the rope and cowboy hat!





The Gibsonesque firestripe pickguard is awesome, no?


When I have to replace Harmony's old straight bridges I often use belly-bridges like this rosewood one to help support the ladder-braced, lightly-built tops. It goes a long way to adding stability. The pearl-dot bridge pins are original.




The back and sides have faux-flame painted-grain.



The neck is poplar with faux-flame, too.



The binding is, by the way, celluloid. On the cheaper Gene Autry models it's faux-binding!




It's barely legible, but there's a red S-39 stamp on the label for 1939.


A clean, original case comes with it.


It also has all of the original sales and lessons materials.


This screams "ghost writer."





Wow! 32 lessons, huh?!

1 comment:

Robert Gardner said...

This was a real treat to play and I'm not surprised it went out the door so fast. Perfect museum quality condition. Heftier in body and neck than the KG-14 but a delight to look at. Another example of why it is so great to stop by the shop in person.