1960s Harmony H1201TG Tenor Guitar

This cute old tenor guitar was sent here for a refret and associated setup-side work, but it got damaged in transit, so I had to patch a (new) hole in the side (shoulder) as well. Per the customer's ask, that got covered-up with one of my silly paintings -- in this case it got a pine marten peeking-out from the side.

The H1201TG model is the "Sovereign" version of this Harmony tenor guitar body shape, and so it has some upgrades compared to the more-pedestrian versions (usually labeled Stella). The top is solid spruce and the back and sides and neck are solid mahogany. It still has a junkwood (ebonized maple or pearwood) fretboard and bridge, however, which get prone to chipping and splitting as they age. The fretboard edges are bound and the top and back are bound in multi-ply, too.

Its owner tunes it BF#BE but I have it tuned BF#BEb (open B) in the clip above because my brain is already imprinted on those shapes. Tune that up a half-step and you have open CGCE (open C). This same string set will retune to DGBE as well.

Repairs included: a board plane and refret, repair to a damaged side, fill of some already-repaired (numerous!) side cracks, fill/recut of the saddle slot and a new bone saddle, replacement (aged) Kluson-style tuners with old '60s Harmony buttons installed on them, reglue of the pickguard (it was sloppily-reglued in the wrong place), and general setup.

Setup notes: the neck is straight and action is a perfect 1/16" overall at the 12th fret. String gauges are 32w, 20w, 16, 12 for DGBE or related open tunings.

Scale length: 22 3/4"
Nut width: 1 1/4"
String spacing at nut: 1"
String spacing at bridge: 1 3/8"
Body length: 17 1/2"
Lower bout width: 13 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 3 3/4"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back & sides wood: solid mahogany
Bracing type: ladder
Fretboard: ebonized maple/pearwood
Bridge: ebonized maple/pearwood
Neck feel: medium C/V shape, flat board
Neck wood: mahogany, bone nut

Condition notes: it's quite worn all over and has a ton of repaired hairline cracks on the sides. The top and back have no cracks, however. There's wear/repaired chip-outs on the fretboard, though I did plane it level before the refret. Replacement parts include the tuners, saddle, bridge pins, and endpin -- though the last bit is an older one from my parts-bins.

Here's the pine marten painting.

Here's the repaired area in-process. The fill is where there was a gaping hole before. This guy was attacked by a kid-sized electric guitar shipped in the same box. Oops!

Because I knew he wanted it painted, I didn't repair with mahogany and then touch-up. This is wood-dust and superglue mixed -- almost like a fast-setting epoxy -- which you can "fit" in place by taping behind the break to make a scaffold.


I had one of them for a while. Picked it up for $30 when they were selling on ebay for $120. I knew I wasn't going to keep it. I was waiting for the right time to flip it. I did a few years, with a few other instruments, later for a mandocello build. I tuned it in 5ths, because that's what I was used to, per the mandolin. I found it hard to play, because the strings were very high. They had to be a factory specs. I felt I could have cut block cheese, and cold cuts with it! I like the lower sounding tuning on the one you played. Too bad about the damage. Other than that repair, the owner should be happy. Love your videos. Cut a CD with some of the instruments you get to play. Cheers!
Sir Farrow said…
I live in the Baltimore Greg. Have some other worthwhile instruments?