1970 Harmony H1266 Sovereign Jumbo Guitar

A recurring question from blog readers is, "do you have any H1265 or H1266 Sovereigns?" The answer is often no. Fortunately, one of my consignors found this one out there in webland needing a little love. These guitars command much higher prices than they used to as they become increasingly-popular in hipster culture. It's high time that the nicer Harmony products get their due, though -- this guitar's every bit as fun to play as a J-45 and it looks crazier and extra-countrified to boot.

The mix of "eagle" (or mustache) bridge, classical-style rosette, high-contrast sunburst finish, and big pickguards totally speaks to its era (it has a 1970 date stamp inside) and cowboy-hat-toting songsters or dusty, western-tinged folk-rockers. You know who you are. I jam with you folks.

It arrived in decent shape -- though missing its pickguards (a common issue) -- but needed all the usual work to get it up to snuff. It's almost entirely original (save new pickguards and a saddle-topper) and it's crack-free, too. It has a big, gutsy, full sound to it that's even closer to a Gibby J-45 vibe than the more-usual H1260 Sovereign models. The body designs are almost exactly the same between the H1260 and H1265/H1266 models internally, so I attribute that to the heavier adjustable (steel base) bridge saddle, bigger bridge, and pickguard footprint. They're just as loud as a normal Sovereign jumbo but the EQ spikes a bit more in the lower-mids so they have a more relaxed, rumblier voice that's a little less-airy than the H1260s. It's better for folk/rock-strummers because of that.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, headstock veneer reglue, new pickguards which I cut from tracings of the "shadows" of the original pickguards on the top, and a new (properly-compensated) rosewood saddle that slots into the original adjustable steel saddle-plate. Harmony routinely put bridges in the wrong place and this solves the 1/16" off this bridge was from its proper intonation points. It also sounds better than the "standard" plastic saddle insert these usually have.

Setup notes: action is spot-on and fast at 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble, strung with a standard 54w-12 lights-gauge string set. The neck is straight, the frets have good life left in them, and the truss rod works as it should. The fretboard extension "dips-down" away from the rest of the fretboard over the body, so after the 16th fret it gets a little harder to play up high.

Scale length: 25 1/8"

Nut width: 1 3/4"

String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"

String spacing at bridge: 2 1/4"

Body length: 19 5/8"

Lower bout width: 16"

Side depth at endpin: 4 1/4"

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: solid mahogany

Bracing type: ladder

Fretboard: rosewood

Bridge: rosewood

Neck feel: medium D-shape, ~10-12" board radius

Neck wood: mahogany

Weight: 4 lb 6 oz

Condition notes: it's all-original save replacement pickguards and a replacement rosewood saddle insert. There's a bit of wear and tear to the finish throughout (mostly finish-checking) but it's really, really clean for its age. The heel cap has a chip-out and I can replace it if desired.

It comes with: a Fender-branded hard case that's nothing to look at but perfectly functional.


Ken said…
The wood on the back!