1960s Harmony H417 Monterey A-Style Archtop Mandolin

I worked on one of these just before the holidays last year, and this one is much the same as that -- a good, dry, choppy, barky, bitey, snappy little thing that won't compare volume-wise to a good carved-top instrument (these are pressed-top, not carved) but it definitely gets the job done. I'd rate it similar to an old '40s or '50s Strad-O-Lin, though the Strads tend to have a little more "spring" in their step. That's the only way I know how to describe it. These Harmony A-styles just go ka-pop, bluegrass-fashion.

This one's here (presumably) for consignment and it's pretty clean overall, though someone reglued the top center seam in the past (it's a little visible when you're looking for it) as well as the seam near the endblock. It arrived nearly-playable but needed just a little bit to make it get-up-and-go the way I like them.

Post-repairs it plays slick and fast and has a quick, easy-handling neck that reminds me of Gibson A-50s but with a bit more of a round cut to the back of the neck. I like how Harmony kitted these out with 18:1 tuners at the headstock -- something you just don't see on most mandolins from the time but makes it easy to tune-up without overshooting the mark.

Repairs included: fret level dress, minor mod to bridge, cleaning, setup.
Made by: Harmony
Model: H417 Monterey
Made in: Chicago, IL, USA

Top wood: solid spruce (pressed-top, not carved)
Back & sides wood: solid maple
Bracing type: tonebar
Bridge: rosewood
Fretboard: rosewood
Neck wood: maple
Tone: clean, bright, percussive, snappy, poppy

Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall (low, quick) w/adjustment room
String gauges: 36w-10 lights
Neck shape: medium C/very-lightly-soft V
Board radius: flat
Truss rod: non-adjustable steel rod
Neck relief: straight
Fret style: small

Scale length: 13 7/8"
Nut width: 1 3/16"
String spacing at nut: 1"
String spacing at bridge: 1 5/8"
Body length: 12 1/2"
Body width: 10"
Body depth: 1 7/8"
Weight: 1 lb 13 oz

Condition notes: it's original save for strap-button add-ons. The finish is clean and looks good, too. The top's center seam has a slim dark line of fill/repair down the middle which is associated with an earlier repair. It's stable, but you can see it if you're looking (I took a photo with glare so it'd show-up). There's also a slightly mismatched reglue of a back/side seam right next to the endblock and near a strap button. It's good to go, too.

It comes with: a recent f-style hard case that works just fine.


Nick R said…
As I understand it, those tuners were made by Grover. After Waverly went out of business in the early 1970s, Grover made these for Harmony with the same plate shape as the previous Waverly type but with that new ratio- gears with more teeth.