1955 Harmony H1325 Monterey Electrified Archtop Guitar

Above: the electric sound

Above: the acoustic sound

My friend Tom brought this cool old box in for trade/consignment and as he was owed a slot in the lineup, I "did it up special." It's a 1955 Harmony Monterey archtop (date-stamped inside) that I've electrified with a National Slimline humbucker. These are clean, bright-sounding pickups that work really well, actually, for vintage jazz or popular music styles from the same time.

It sounds best, of course, through the pickup. As an acoustic instrument, it's on the quiet and midsy side, though it's still fun to work on songs acoustically as the tone is engaging.

Compared to the usual all-birch Monterey archtop, this H1325 model is a little more upscale. It has a nicer neck, more binding, and a solid spruce top over solid maple back and sides. It has the wider body style, too. Most of the Montereys I see that come through are solid birch throughout and just a hair larger than a 000-size guitar.

It needed a bunch of structural work to get it playing nice and fast (which it does, now), but after that work was done I fit the pickup, wiring harness, and jack. The pickup is fastened to the top with that super-sticky acoustic pickup adhesive film stuff. I can "hard-mount" it with glue if desired, though. Unfortunately there's no "surround" for these that would keep them in place with screws or whatnot. If you're interested in the guitar, let me know if you'd like it glued instead.

I like how articulate, clean, and balanced the voice of this box is. You can alnmost just chug-along on it like an acoustic archtop when plugged-in. It sounds really nice on up-the-neck chords and is a gem for fingerpicking as the tone is so even and sweet.

The old Harmony necks like these can only really take 52w-11 strings at max. 12s would have been normal when it was built, but these necks prefer lighter gauges to keep them straight and stable in service. It's got 46w-10 on it right now with a wound G string (the bridge is compensated for wound G).

Repairs included: neck reset, fret level/dress, replacement neck binding & new side dots (one is placed a hair out of alignment -- sorry!), replacement tuner ferrules, minor seam repairs, a mod to the bridge (fixed bridge post mountings), new compensated rosewood bridge topper/saddle, pickup and wiring harness install, and setup.

Body wood: solid spruce top, solid maple back/sides

Bridge: rosewood-topped, ebonised-maple bottom

Fretboard: ebonized maple

Neck wood: poplar

Pickups: 1x National Slimline humbucker (US-made, fancypants)

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 46w-10 with wound G

Neck shape: medium C

Board radius: ~10-12"

Truss rod: non-adjustable

Neck relief: straight w/hair of relief on treble side at pitch

Fret style: medium-low

Scale length: 25 1/8"

Nut width: 1 3/4"

Body width: 16 1/4"

Body depth: 3 3/8" + arching

Weight: 4 lbs 5 oz

Condition notes: the finish shows dulling and weather-checking throughout with some strips of flaked-off finish on the sides and especially at the endpin. There's one shorter repaired hairline crack on the lower-bout back but the guitar is otherwise crack-free. Tuners, nut, tailpiece, and bridge base and posts are original. The pickup, knob, wiring harness, and bridge saddle/topper are replacements. There are new strap buttons, too, and the neck binding and a small 3" portion of binding on the back at the waist is replacement as well. The tuners are not wonderful but they work just fine.