1960 Harmony H1215 Rubber-Bridge Archtop Electric Bass Conversion

This is a downtrodden old Harmony H1215 archtop guitar that I've modified (with some help from the enviable Jose here and there) into a rubber-saddle/rubber-bridge electrified bass guitar. Is it awesome this way? Well, of course!

It seems like a pretty quick mod to do these instruments up but one has to do all the normal ground work (neck reset, fretwork, etc.) that one would do with setting it up as a guitar, too. After all that was done, I routed for the pickup, swapped tuners at the headstock, wired it up, modded the bridge and saddle to give it a rubber top, and fit a parts-bin bass tailpiece/bridge at the endblock.

It uses normal long-scale electric bass strings because of all that extra string afterlength, which makes it easy to find strings for and means the "overwinds" at the headstock end don't clutter-up the tuners too much. The pickup is a simple lipstick-style, Strat-sized one and has output about like a Strat pickup, too. It gives the instrument a clean, even sound.

The big advantage of using a rubber saddle/bridge on an extra-short-scale bass like this is that intonation is improved (the rubber lets it intonate more or less on a straight line) and because the strings travel less when plucked it makes it harder to put out of tune by digging-in when you play, which can sometimes be an issue with this style of instrument. The other big advantage is that it gives the instrument an "upright-like" attack with shorter sustain and a rounder, damped, more fundamental sound.

Repairs included: neck reset, fret level/dress, many seam repairs, side dots added, pickup install and wiring work, added tailpiece, bridge modifications, tuners swap/headstock changes, new nut, setup, etc.

  • Weight: 3 lbs 11 oz
  • Scale length: 25 1/8"
  • Nut width: 1 3/4"
  • Neck shape: medium-bigger C
  • Board radius: 10"
  • Body width: 16"
  • Body depth: 3 3/8"
  • Top wood: solid birch
  • Back & sides wood: solid birch
  • Bracing type: tonebar
  • Bridge: ebonized mysterywood, adjustable w/rubber top
  • Fretboard: mysterywood
  • Neck wood: poplar
  • Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
  • String gauges: 95w-35w D'Addario EXL180, heavier is fine, too
  • Truss rod: non-adjustable
  • Neck relief: straight
  • Fret style: medium/lower

Condition notes: it has numerous nicks, small dings, and scratches throughout. The body has some repaired/mismatched-but-trimmed edges on the back/side seams especially. It doesn't distract. The top has "sagged" over the tonebar bracing and you can see it most-easily around the tailpiece and bridge areas. Most of these pressed-top old Harmony products do this to some extent and this one has mildly-dramatic "stagging around" the tonebars near where the tailpiece would have been. It's perfectly stable but shows itself as wavy/curvy lines in the top. The tuners, bass tailpiece, nut, and rubber saddle are all unoriginal.

It comes with: sorry, no case.

Consignor tag: MM