1943 Harmony-made Stella 00/000 Tailpiece Guitar

This guitar belongs to a longtime guitar-swapper, funk-hunter, and customer of mine -- though he brought it to consign. It's a very simple instrument and is solid birch throughout the body with a poplar neck. There's an S-43 date stamp inside and the rosewood, wartime-era tailpiece corroborates that. This almost-000 body size is rare to see on a Harmony flattop and its "voluptuous" body shape corresponds to some of the smaller-body archtop molds the company used at the time.

After work, it has a big, cutting, loud, and bar-brawl voice. It's not pretty, but it's very bluesy and up-front with a lot of midsy kick. The bass is decent and when you play it old-time style with a lot of boom-chuck chording mixed with bass-run twiddles, it sounds fantastic. I suppose it would also sound "ace" with fingerpicks, too.

Work included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, installation of a hard-mount adjustable bridge (archtop-style), a replacement (vintage) nut install, general cleaning, crack cleating (where possible) to the back, and a setup. The neck is straight and action is spot-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, strung with 50w-11 gauges. Action can be adjusted up/down with the adjustable bridge.

Scale length: 25 1/8"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/8"
Body length: 19 1/8"
Lower bout width: 14 7/8"
Waist width: 9 3/8"
Upper bout width: 11"
Side depth at endpin: 3 3/4"
Top wood: solid birch, faux-grain painting
Back/sides wood: solid birch
Bracing type: ladder
Fretboard: ebonized maple
Bridge: rosewood, old archtop saddle
Neck feel: big V-shape, flat board

Condition notes: it's in relatively good shape except for the back. It's all-original save the nut and bridge, too. Overall the guitar has the usual minor scratches and corner wear you'd see for an old non-bound Harmony, but the back has one long crack and one shorter crack that've been repaired poorly in the past. The back has bulges/waviness along these cracks and someone in the past just sunk glue and putty into them to fill them up. They also attempted to reglue the braces over the wavy back, but weren't successful. As a result, where the back has warped-up around the cracks, the braces are not glued to the back, but where they come back to "normal, they're glued-up just fine. The back is stable and I added cleats along the cracks where I could, but that's an oddity the next owner will have to live with!

The nut was originally a wood one that was all worn-out and broken. I replaced it with this same-period old bone nut that happened to have good spacing for this neck.

I added side dots as well.

The bridge is a 1940s-era rosewood topper from an archtop guitar. I've modified it to fit and intonate correctly on this guitar. I installed posts directly into the top for it to ride up/down on and it adjusts with small hex-nuts. This makes it adjustable to taste -- something very useful if you're a player that does normal-style "Spanish" playing one day and slide the next.

The wartime rosewood tailpiece is neat-looking and functions well. It was used because of steel shortages during the war. I tried it mounted with "air" under it and also "as-normal" which means flat against the top. The guitar sounded better with it flat on the top, so I left it that way instead. Curious, no?