1940s Harmony-made H53 Silvertone Hollowbody Electric Guitar

Judging by the original open-plate Kluson tuners that this had on when it came in, I'm guessing this is a late-'40s box -- probably '48 or '49. Harmony stamped these H53 on the inside but they're just the Silvertone-badged version of the normal H50 model which looks almost identical -- except the headstock is oh-so-killer on this variant. These are basically Harmony's attempt at a Gibson ES-125 clone but with nicer appointments (bound board, slick trim).

What makes these guitars so special is that they're solid wood throughout -- spruce for the top and maple for the back and sides -- and that gives them a much more "acoustic" attack both plugged-in and... unplugged! It actually sounds pretty decent just picked acoustically, too, for practice work. That "acoustic" quality when mixed with the Gibson-supplied P-13 pickups (which are a little microphonic) that these wear... is just about a perfect old "jazz guitar" or "blues guitar" voice. It stinks of '40s/'50s rootsy music.

The P-13 was Gibson's proto-P90 pickup. Internally it has a lot of the same features and sizing of the coil and whatnot and, unsurprisingly, it sounds a lot like a P90 from the '50s. Well, it sounds a lot like one but perhaps with a bit less aggressive snarl on top and a cleaner, mellower lilt to the voice. The metal (grounded) cover also changes the sound a bit, too, reducing a little of that P90 slur with its peaky mids.

Harmony bought these pickups off of Gibson after the war as Gibson had moved on to different designs. Harmony then used them on all sorts of instruments -- mostly these hollowbody H50-style models and oodles of lap steels. I've seen many of those oodles of lap steels with their guts ripped-out to take advantage of the P-13s in them, though, which is a bit sad -- but understandable.

Repairs included: many seam repairs, bracing repairs, neck block reglue (it was slipped on the back), board level/plane and refret with pyramid-style jumbo frets, replacement Gotoh Kluson-style tuners (originals were slippy), modification of the bridge (new posts, "modern" adjustment with wheels on top rather than pushing from the bottom Harmony-style), modification of the pickguard to get it to lay flattish (it's pretty warped), general cleaning, and setup.

Setup notes: the neck is straight, action is bang-on at 1/16" overall at the 12th fret, and it's strung with 50w-11 D'Addario Chromes (flatwound strings).

Scale length: 25 1/8"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2 5/16"
Body length: 19 3/4"
Lower bout width: 16 1/8"
Waist width: 9 1/4"
Upper bout width: 11 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 3 1/4"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid maple
Bracing type: tonebar/patch-plates at upper bout
Fretboard: Brazilian rosewood
Bridge: original adjustable w/new posts
Neck feel: medium C-shape, 9.5" radius to 12th fret, 12" radius beyond

Condition notes: while there are two cracks at the waist-top on either side and some funkified small patches of seams on the back/sides join, it's overall in really good shape. The guitar is clean and was all-original when it came in. Right now the tuners, frets, and a few screws are replacements. I also compensated the bridge and made it "modern" in operation, so it's a bit changed as well.