1963 Silvertone (Harmony) Rubber-Bridge Electrified Parlor Guitar

Above: electric clip

Above: acoustic clip

I bought this old Harmony-made Silvertone (it's basically an H929 Stella model with different livery) off a friend of mine specifically to mod into the rubber-bridge fad that's going around. There's always at least a few folks asking for these and it's a nice diversion from time to time.

I reset the neck, reglued a seam separation, leveled/dressed the frets, fit some parts-bin tuners and a tailpiece, and then wired it up which meant fitting a stacked, Strat-sized humbucker at the neck, volume and tone pots on the shoulder (the tone pot has a cool old '50s .047 cap on it), grounding at the tailpiece, and a jack on the top-lower-bout. I know that seems like a strange jack location, but it makes it easy to find when you're on stage and is less susceptible to the "bump-and-crack" thing that happens with side jacks and acoustics -- especially if you're using a right-angle jack at the guitar.

The last bit was to fit the "rubber bridge" -- in this case I used a spare rosewood bridge base and installed the saddle on top of it. The saddle is the foam rubber from the bottom of a tiling grout float and it's a thicker, more-damped material than used on the "wrapped bridges" of other rubber-bridge setups. Is it better or worse? It damps it a little more and the sound is neat but it's initially a little more difficult to work with. I use a series of screws, these days, to keep the rubber material in place and non-floppy and that also allows me to adjust the intonation a little bit by shaving bits of the rubber down where the strings pass.

Floating bridges like to move-around on their owners so on lower-end guitars like this I often "tack them down" with a couple of screws also in the bridge wings. To adjust action height, one can loosen these wing-screws and then simply shim-up the treble/bass bridge feet to taste with thin strips of veneer wood, plastic, or whatever -- and then tighten it back down again. It's dialed-in perfectly at 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble at the moment, however, and the neck is nice and straight.

The only piece of hardware left on the guitar that's original is its pickguard, though the rest of the gear is in keeping with the design and "period-ish." It originally had a bolted-on "pin bridge" setup (sort-of like an Ovation) but those work terribly so I swapped it over to the (more-usual for a Stella-style) tailpiece setup. This also plays much more nicely with the rubber bridge.

The tuners are not original but are '60s or '70s Japanese ones that work and look about the same. The tailpiece is a '60s one as well -- probably from an electric. The potentiometers are 500k minis (Bourns) and have Dakaware-style knobs on them which match the vibe of the guitar. I added a strap button at the heel but the endblock-side one is original.

Luckily, there are no cracks and the solid birch body and its bracing are all good to go. The treble-side upper-bout top/side seam is slightly misaligned where it meets the neckblock area but is glued tidily. I've had the guitar strung-up for a few days and it's settled-in just fine and hasn't budged setup-wise.

Strings are 50w-11 nickel electrics with a wound G. It's got a 1 3/4" nut width, medium-bigger neck profile, and short, 24 1/8" scale length.