4/26/2018

1966 Harmony H1270 Sovereign 12-String Jumbo Guitar




These super-dreadnought, jumbo-sized, 12-fret guitars are among my favorite 12-strings once they've been gone-through and fixed-up. With a tailpiece load, lightweight ladder-braced build, and huge body, they're really the only other logical option if you don't have a $7000 budget for a 1920s Oscar Schmidt (Stella, Sovereign) 12-string to do the "Leadbelly thing." They also share the Sovereign moniker.

The materials on these Harmony Sovereigns are impressive -- solid spruce tops, solid mahogany back and sides, mahogany necks with trussrods, and rosewood fretboards and bridges. The original setups (and bridges) on these were quite stupid, but after work -- which in this case included a neck reset, fret level/dress, new fully-compensated rosewood bridge, minor finish touch-up, and crack repairs to the back -- they're beasts. They have a powerful, full-on, saturated, deep sound that projects. They almost beg to be detuned down to C or C#. I've set this one up to play perfectly in standard, however, with my slinky-12 set of strings gauged: 22w/46w, 16/36w, 11/26w, 8/18w, 13/13, 10/10.

Specs are: 25 1/8" scale, 2" nut width, 1 13/16" string spacing at the nut, 2 3/8" spacing at the bridge, 16 1/8" lower bout width, 12" upper bout, and 4 3/8" depth at the endblock. Action is 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret and the neck is nice and straight and the frets have decent life left in them. The neck has a ~12" radius to the board and a medium-large D-shaped profile.


Don't you love how the spruce top's finish has aged to a buttery-yellow? This guitar, by the way, its all-original except for its new bridge. These are ladder-braced instruments and sat near the top of Harmony's flattop line alongside other Sovereign super-dread/jumbos. I've pegged the year via a very, very faint date-stamp on the inside that seems to say F-66.

It's also crack-free save a cluster of small gross ones on the lower-bout rear and one tiny hairline on the side. They've all been dealt-with.


Nice rosewood headstock veneer...




Ah -- I had to reglue the pickguard, too. That's par for the course.

The fretboard extension dips just slightly down from the rest of the board post-neck-reset.


The original bridge was missing when this came in and there was some mucked-up finish under the funky bridge that was on it. I removed that funky bridge, touched-up the finish with some yellow-tint nitro, and then made this new, fully-compensated bridge to fit. It's 1/2" in height which gains a little more than 1/8" over the height of the factory bridges.







Here's the cluster of icky-looking small cracks on the back-lower-bout. They're all glued-up, filled at the bits where there were split edges, and are ready to go.





The bit that looks like a lighter-colored scratch is a glued-up, not-even-entirely-through hairline crack. No worries.

1 comment:

Bob said...

I seem to remember Pete Seeger talking about tuning 12-strings down one or two whole tones. I would love to hear what this one sounds like in D or (as you mention) C... or at least with just the 6th string dropped to D for a bit of "Bells of Rhymney" or something similar.