4/18/2018

1968 Harmony H1265 Sovereign Jumbo Flattop Guitar




The extra-countrified, bling-tastic H1265 was Harmony's premier flattop when it was made. These have become really popular these days, but not that many were made when they were in production and so examples are pretty rare. This one is an absolute beater but it does perform now that work's been done on it. While I generally enjoy the tone of most Sovereign jumbos (especially for open tunings), I think the H1265s are often a little bit better despite (or maybe because-of?) their giant pickguards and bridge. By better I mean a little mellower and sweeter. Most of these old jumbos have plenty of volume and punch.

Work on this included a neck reset and cleaning-up of bad old heel repairs, a fret level/dress, new rosewood saddle insert to replace a missing adjustable saddle unit, regluing the pickguards, much cleaning, and a set of parts-bin, newer, openback tuners. It's good to go with spot-on action and has a straight neck but the bad news is that the truss-rod nut is shorn-off (what else is new on old Harms?) with the threaded portion of the rod broken a bit past the collar of the rod. I'm not confident about cutting more wood out of the truss cavity to remove the rod, so I'm leaving it as-is. I've tuned up a half-step past on-pitch and the neck deflects only 1/64" overall, so I'm not especially worried about it structurally.

Specs are: 25 1/4" scale, 1 3/4" nut width, 1 1/2" string spacing at the nut, 2 1/4" spacing at the bridge, 16 1/8" lower bout width, 12" upper bout, and 4 3/8" side depth at the endblock. Action is 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret and I've strung it with 50w, 38w, 28w, 22w, 15, 11 strings as I find that regular 12s tend to belly the top over time. It's not like these guitars really need the extra power, anyway -- they're boomy with the 11s. The neck has a medium, hefty, D profile and the fretboard has a ~12" radius.


The top is solid spruce and the back, sides, and neck are solid mahogany. This guitar is original except for its saddle, tuners, strap button, and (period, but not original) truss rod cover. There's a date stamp inside but it's very faded. Still, I think it suggests 1968.

As far as damage -- there are four old repairs to hairline cracks -- one on the top lower-bout where the finish muck-up is, one on the side next to it, one hairline split at the bottom of the heel, and one on the side near the heel. The heel also has filled areas where a big screw and strap button had been cranked into its surface in the past.


Just like the pickguards, the headstock veneer needed to be totally reglued, too.


The board has big old celluloid block markers.





While most folks see a mustache, I see an eagle. Note that I added string-ramps for extra back-angle on the saddle and also note that my new saddle insert is fully-compensated like an archtop bridge.




Here's that rough area with its single old-repair hairline crack. Believe it or not, someone had stuck a Martin-style pickguard over this!


Here's the old-repair crack on the side right next to it.




The mahogany on the back and sides has the usual light figure/curl that Sovereigns tend to have.



The original set of tuners as not complete and several were damaged. This set of Wilkinson, Grover-ish pegs were from my parts-bin and work just fine.


Someone obviously loved playing this guitar!



Here's the worst of it -- patched-up damage at the neck's heel and a side crack extending from it. Harmony installed the neck block off-center, hence why the side got damage when the heel was split. It's all stable now, though. Aside from a glued reset, there are two bolt/screws sunk into the heel as well for safety's sake. The joint had been pretty crudded-up before I got to it.






This strap button is actually installed into the plastic remains of the original endpin.

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