1960s Harmony H1265 Sovereign Jumbo Flattop Guitar

This is the second H1265 I worked on this week -- an oddity because these are relatively rare models, being the most-deluxe variant of the Sovereign line. Unlike the other one, this one's up for grabs, too. It was sent in via a consignor and it was actually in pretty good shape when it arrived. It'd had a previous neck reset, replacement tuners added, replacement ebony bridge pins and endpins added, and was setup alright. It still needed some love to get it going 100%, though.

The H1265 has a few significant upgrades compared to the many variations of the H1260 model. First-off, it has a moustache/eagle-shaped rosewood pin-load bridge with an adjustable saddle which gives it a bit more "guts" regarding break-angle of the strings over the saddle. It also looks awesome. After that the changes are more cosmetic -- big block inlay in the fretboard, a fancy tortoise headstock veneer, and the huge, country-tastic, asymmetrical pickguards. Interestingly, these changes add-up to a guitar that sounds a lot like a normal H1260, though because of whatever wizardry is going on, these have a lower-mids/bass emphasis that's getting into an almost Gibson-like territory. They're interesting and I love the way you can dig into the H1265s with a pick and not overdrive the soundboard too much.

I couldn't find a date stamp on the inside but these were made from '66 through '68, as I recall.

Work included: a fret level/dress, replacement pickguards (the originals are included with the guitar but one of them was too damaged to reuse), replacement metal Harmony logo, general cleaning, and a good setup and adjustments. The truss rod works well, the neck is straight, and it plays perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret, strung with 54w-12 gauges.

Specs are: 25 1/8" scale length, 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, 11 7/8" upper bout, and 4 3/8" side depth at the endblock. The neck has a 12" radius to the board and a medium, C/D-shaped neck profile.

Materials are: solid spruce top (ladder-braced), solid mahogany back, sides, and neck, rosewood fretboard and bridge, celluloid headstock veneer, bone saddle, plastic nut.

Condition notes: replaced pickguards and metal logo, added heel-area strap button, replaced heel cap, replacement bridge pins and endpin, replacement (older, '70s Grover in gold) tuners, replacement bone saddle, minor usewear to the body with most of it around the big pickguard, very minor pitting to the fretboard in first position, weather-check/fine finish cracks throughout, one tiny fixed hairline crack at the back-waist, one small patched/repaired hairline crack on the treble-side-upper-bout-side. Otherwise pretty clean, though, and looks great!

The replacement, much-thinner, self-stick pickguards I installed followed the cut of the originals exactly. The big one had to be made from two pieces, however, and I installed the "antiqued" replacement Harmony logo over the seam between the two parts. It's about 1/2" lower than it should be per original placement, but now it's happily out of the path of picking which is why I placed it there. The new pickguards are white-backed which is the key to making new red tortoise-colored pickguards look like the originals (which were also white-backed).

The mahogany on the back and sides has that "silky" effect here and there throughout.

Here's the old patched-up/repaired hairline crack on the treble, upper-bout side. It's good to go.

Here's the baggie with the original pickguards, original saddle, and original Harmony metal logo. I didn't use these because the big pickguard was too shrunk and warped to reinstall, unfortunately -- though I did try to straighten it out. The bass-side, smaller pickguard is in great shape, though.


Phillips said…
Awesome job on the pickguards Jake
Derek said…
I have the same guitar, bought it new. I still love it. Sounds better every year. Enjoyed your review and hearing about tbe guitar and your repairs. Derek. Toronto