1964 Harmony H39 Hollywood Archtop Rubber-Bridge Electric Bass Conversion

The poor owner of this bass had to wait ages for me to finish it off. We've been so extremely busy with repairs and sales around here that out of state work has gotten completely backed-up way above my eyeballs. He sent it in as a stock Harmony Hollywood electric guitar and wanted to get one of the rubber-bridge bass mods done to it.

The work's all done, now, and it certainly plays a treat. It's got a big, fat, boomy, bloomy sound to it that's just pure joy if you're into retro tones. The short decay keeps it "uprighty-feeling" in the attack, too, and so it sits in the mix closer to an upright than, say, a Beatle bass or similar.

Work included a neck reset, level/dress of the frets, ground wire added to the tailpiece, tailpiece modification, saddle and nut and bridge modification, and setup work. Oh -- and, of course, new tuners. I like using bigger sealed tuners on these (I usually have plenty spare in the parts-bins as pull-offs on '60s Gibsons and Martins) because they hold-up better to the heavier-gauge windings and are easier to use than, say, Klusons or the funky old Waverlies that would have originally come on this.

The strings are recycled old flatwounds but these also sound great with lighter-weight (95w-40w or so) roundwounds for a more marimba-like, bouncy, sing-song tone. With flats you have to be really careful so as not to break the outer wrappings and "unspin" the windings off of the strings when you put them through the posts and tune up.

Per the usual for this model, the body is solid birch throughout. It has a press-arched top and back, the neck is poplar, and the board and bridge are ebonized wood of some sort. The bridges on these usually have posts that "adjust in reverse" from other brands, so I always make it a habit to "reverse the reverse" and set them up so they work like normal posts (where the adjuster wheel pushes up on the bottom of the saddle rather than down on the bridge base with the post fit into the saddle/bridge top itself).