4/15/2018

1970s Harmony Opus X-Braced Jumbo Guitar




The Opus models of the early-to-mid '70s were among Harmony's last, upscale efforts at keeping their domestic production alive. While they look like a fancier H1260 Sovereign and share the same body outline and solid spruce top over solid mahogany back/sides, they're entirely different beasts. The necks are cut a little better, they're lighter-weight, they've got fancier trim overall, they have a Martin-style, practical bridge, and most importantly they're x-braced! While the bracing isn't expertly-sculpted, it looks roughly about the weight and girth of Yamaha or Gibson bracing from the same time. The bridge plate is interesting, too, in that it appears to be a fairly thick and wide piece of balsa. That's a clever adaptation.

The question is -- how does it sound? Frankly, I think it's awesome. It's dang loud and has the big, warm, open bass of an early-'60s Gibson J-45/J-50 with much of the articulate and bluegrassy twang-spank of a D-18 in the mids and highs. I was terribly surprised, to be honest. Compared to the last one I worked on (which had a skinny-as-heck neck that made it hard for me to truly enjoy), I'm super-happy with this one.

Work included a neck reset, fret level/dress, new compensated saddle, pickguard reglue, tuner-button-swapout (to the same thing but a little smaller to reduce weight/ugliness), and a setup. Strings are 54w-12, the truss rod works great, and the neck is straight. It's a good, functional player in the same way a Martin or Gibson would be -- it doesn't feel, well -- cheap. The only thing that would make me think twice suggesting this guitar to anyone is its relatively wide waist -- the bit of extra air that makes it a "true" jumbo compared to a "super-dreadnought."

Specs are: 25 1/8" scale, 1 3/4" nut width, 1 1/2" string spacing at the nut, 2 1/32" spacing at the bridge, 16 1/8" lower bout, 11 3/8" upper bout, and 4 5/16" depth at the endblock. Action is spot-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret with plenty of saddle height to come down (and saddle slot depth to shim up).

The top is solid spruce, the back and sides are solid mahogany, the neck is mahogany, and the fretboard and bridge are rosewood. Both the saddle and nut are synthetic.


There are no cracks on the guitar and aside from weather-check cracks to the finish, the whole instrument looks like it might've been made just 10 years ago. It's clean.


Per its deluxe position in the Harmony line, it has deluxe appointments -- big pearloid block markers and multi-ply binding all over.


The board has a ~12" radius to it and the back of the neck is a mild-to-medium C-shape. The frets are the small-to-medium typical Harmony fare and have plenty of life left in them.









The backstrip is pretty fancy, no? That mahogany on the back is also pretty nice-looking stuff.


The original, sealed tuners work just fine.







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