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NGD - Wartime Guitar (Sorry Not a Banner)


zombywoof
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My 1942 J-50 now has a playmate. But first, a bit of a backstory. A while back I uttered an oath to myself that I was done with guitars which, when all was said and done, would run me over $1K. So a few weeks ago I passed on a guitar which I actually had been keeping an eye open for - a Waterloo WL-S Deluxe. Instead, me being me, I jumped all over something else that would allow me to keep my promise to myself - a 1942 (it is date stamped) figure 8, all-mahogany Harmony H165. The fun part is this guitar is not supposed to exist. There was a 12 fret, slothead H165 Stella offered in the 1940 catalog which was built at least into 1943. But this ain't one of those. This is the Grand Concert, 14 fret, solid headstock, pinless bridge H165 which does not appear until 1944 and which was a mainstay in the catalog for thirty years. And the kicker is that Harmony marketed this guitar as a Stella, the headstock being adorned with the old Oscar Schmidt-style logo. The upshot is, while I may never be able to document the existence of this guitar other than the fact I am holding it, everything lines up - the style of the date stamp, the tuners, the headstock shape, the neck carve and the fact Harmony already had a spruce top "Master Line" version of this guitar in production so obviously had the tools, jigs, and fixtures they needed.

 

Anyway, this little beauty has a big fat V neck and 1 3/4" nut so me automatically like. The tuners are bent tab peened Klusons. It is in surprisingly nice shape with only one small back crack and a few scratches. Somebody has added bolts to the bridge. Not surprisingly, it does need a neck reset. Hey it a Harmony. Sound, Holy Crap, this thing is not shy about letting you know it is in the room. It has a loud voice which has clarity to it and almost a bell-like chime. Nice mids but lacking a bit in the low end. Very fundamental sounding though without a whole lot of harmonics/overtones. And lest you doubt the H165 has some serious blues creds - Lightning Hopkins played one. Yowzaah!

 

H165_Front-2.jpg

 

H165_Logo.jpg

 

Stella_Tuners.jpg

Edited by zombywoof
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Goodness me Zomb, that is BEAUTIFUL! My heart almost skipped a beat at the sight of it. Huge Lightnin’ fan here...

 

My Thanks. My heart almost stopped when I stumbled across this thing. A 14 fret Stella. Who would have thunk it.

 

And I am with you all the way on Lightning Hopkins. There has never been anyone else like him. Here ya go albeit with a post-1956 version of the guitar.

 

Edited by zombywoof
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Nice looking guitar.

We have a couple of wartime mahogany guitars.

1942 Lg-1

1944 00-17

 

I ran across a Banner LG-1 up for grabs on the UMGF last spring. As I do not spend a lot of time there by the time I saw it the guitar It was gone.

 

Strange thing about Harmony is that while the only all-mahogany guitar which shows up in their 1940 catalog is a 12 fret, slothead concert, the 1940 B & J catalog lists an 000 size, 14 fret, pin bridge all-mahogany Harmony-made S. S. Stewart. So they were obviously building a version by 1940.

Edited by zombywoof
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I ran across a Banner LG-1 up for grabs on the UMGF last spring. As I do not spend a lot of time there by the time I saw it the guitar It was gone.

 

Strange thing about Harmony is that while the only all-mahogany guitar which shows up in their 1940 catalog is a 12 fret, slothead concert, the 1940 B & J catalog lists an 000 size, 14 fret, pin bridge all-mahogany Harmony-made S. S. Stewart. So they were obviously building a version by 1940.

 

Both of ours are pawn shop guitars, but we have had them for years. Both are also x-braced.

The 00-17 is a really ethereal guitar -- the guitar that ruined our life by making us fall in love with small Martin tone.

 

Here is the bracing on the LG-1 -- sort of early banner, but the tone bars were pretty much there. It would do nicely as a blues guitar. The Martin not so much -- seems like the Martin bracing etc. tames even mahogany tops really well. Lots of power AND nuance -- it is a dream but not for a blues player I think.

omCgfKc.jpg

 

What is the bracing on yours like?

Best,

-Tom

 

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The 00-17 is a really ethereal guitar -- the guitar that ruined our life by making us fall in love with small Martin tone.

 

Here is the bracing on the LG-1 -- sort of early banner, but the tone bars were pretty much there. It would do nicely as a blues guitar. The Martin not so much -- seems like the Martin bracing etc. tames even mahogany tops really well. Lots of power AND nuance -- it is a dream but not for a blues player I think.

omCgfKc.jpg

 

What is the bracing on yours like?

Best,

-Tom

 

 

I have not photographed the innards of the Harmony. But it is ladder braced. The only X braced guitars Harmony ever built were the Opus line which they came out with in the 1970s in a last ditch effort to keep the company afloat. The Martins I have gown very fond of though are those early fan braced koa guitars they built for the South Californian Music Co. Great fingerpickers.

 

The X brace in my '42 J-50 looks very much like that in your LG-1. But in mine even the tone bars are more of just a long taper with a slight uptick at the very end rather than the two hump Brooklyn Bridge carve

Edited by zombywoof
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