Monday, June 28, 2010

JJ's Harmony

Yeah, haven't been been blogging for months now. Well, JJ isn't always that busy going public either, is he? I did hear some rumours of another JJ album in recording, but that's another story...

But anyway, this tima I am talking about the the mystical "that piece of shit" Harmony, that Eric Clapton so anxiously wanted to see when he showed up at JJ's recording session in the mid-70s.

He bought it in the late 60s, for $50, the story goes:
"My favorite guitar is this old fifty dollar Harmony, now backless for easier access to the electronics. Originally it was a round hole acoustic, but I've added five pickups for making records and playing concerts. Four of the pickups are Gibson, two of which are low impedance for recording direct. The other bar type pickup came from a Sears Silvertone guitar, it was manufactured by Dano Electro. The guitar has three high impedance outs and one low."
The shiny white humbucker on it being from a "Les Paul Signature" guitar (a short lived 70s model).

Most places they say it is a H-162 (spruce top, the H-165 had a mahogany top). Later on they had adjustable truss rod, but his is an earlier model with fixed rod, but here's the catalog bit on the later model from 1970 catalog:
"No. H162. Folk Guitar-Mahogany with Resonant Spruce Top. Grand Concert Size. Back and sides of selected quality mahogany; top of resonant spruce. Soundhole, top and back edges are celluloid bound, with inlay. Durable natural color eggshell lacquer finish. Ovalled rosewood fingerboard. Rosewood bridge, with bone saddle. Hardwood neck with Torque-Lok adjustable reinforcing rod. Shell celluloid pick guard. Excellent tone quality. A value stand-out.

No. H162 - Size 15 1/8 x 39 in"

It's also ladder braced, which is an older simpler bracing style, nowadays almost all guitars have x-style braces instead. Many fingerpicking blues players dig that, but most others don't like the ladder bracing. I remember reading Lightning Hopkins played a Harmony H-162 in 60s.  

25.25" scale length says this bit on Harmony guitar info site:

Here's a link to the harmony central reviews:

Here's somebody's blog bit on one of these:

It seems you can still quite easily get one for $300 or even less. Strings will be high, I bet. JJ had coin at the base of the neck for adjusting the action. The frets were small and the neck big, and JJ shaved the neck some.

It finally gave up in the '80s, I think. The airlines finally broke for good, he said. Maybe Travel-log has some of it still, but haven't heard it since. He took the wiring and pickups out and put the back on. It's stored somewhere in Southern California...