Claescaster

Category: Made in USA

Harmony H-162

Harmony H-162, Made in USA
Harmony H-162, Made in Chicago, USA in the late 1960’s

I finally put the second Harmony H-162 back together. I got two late 1960’s Harmony H-162 acoustic guitars about 2-3 years ago and it has taken forever to actually find the time to re-set the necks on them. The first one I put together back in November and that one was sold straight away. This one is reserved for a friend of mine but if he decides to get one of my Levin guitars instead then I will put it up for sale. They are really nice these Harmony guitars, wide neck, strong tone and great wood. Harmony used the same wood supplier as Martin back in the day. These were called folk guitars which is a grand concert size, the exact same size as a Martin 000. The Harmony H-162 was produced in Chicago from 1940-1971, this one is most likely from the late 1960’s looking at the headstock. Even though it was an inexpensive guitar at the time they were built with all solid woods, back and sides of selected quality mahogany with a resonant spruce top. It’s a surprisingly well sounding guitar for being a mass produced ladder braced guitar, way better sounding than any Gibson B-15 or B-25 I’ve heard and it cost a third. The neck is pretty wide which makes it extremely comfortable for finger picking. Considering the price of a late 1960’s Martin 000-18, or even a Gibson B-25, the Harmony H-162 is a bargain for a USA made all solid wood vintage guitar.

Harmony H-162, Made in USAHarmony H-162, Made in USAThe Harmony H-162 was missing machine heads, nut and saddle so I cut new ones in bone and added machine heads and some ebony bridge pins.

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LR Baggs Lyrics

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAMartin HD-28LSV, Made in USA in 1999

Last week I changed the pickup in my new Martin HD-28LSV. It came with a LR Baggs Anthem SL installed which sounded good but I had a feeling that a LR Baggs Lyrics might sound even better. I’m also not a big fan of having things stuck under the saddle, when I installed the LR Baggs Anthem SL in my 1966 Goya T-16 I felt that the tone died a bit. I’m sure there might be some other pickup system out there that is even better, but for me, nothing beats the Lyrics for the dry and woody sound that I am after. Now I have the LR Baggs Lyrics system installed in my 1981 Sigma DR-41 and my 1968 Levin LT-18, my main guitar for the Claes Anderson Band. I really enjoy this new Martin HD-28LSV and will use it for our gig tonight at La Sonora de Gràcia but I think I will stick to the 1968 Levin LT-18 as my main guitar for playing live, it’s Swedish and just looks nicer on stage. Here is a quick comparison of the LR Baggs Lyrics and the LR Baggs Anthem SL.

Martin HD-28LSV

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USA
Martin HD-28LSV, Made in USA in 1999

I finally got myself a Martin D-28. Well it’s actually a Martin HD-28LSV which is a HD-28 but with a large soundhole and a vintage vibe, LSV: large soundhole, vintage series. It has an Adirondack spruce top with forward shifted scalloped X braces and solid East Indian Rosewood back and sides, apparently they changed from Adirondack  to Sitka spruce in 2000 so this is one of the last ones with a red spruce top. The mahogany neck has a really nice modified V profile, not as fat as I would have hoped for but the chunkiest neck I’ve felt on a modern Martin. It has all the nice vintage trimmings of a HD-28V, fine herringbone binding and zig-zag back strip. It has a bound ebony fretboard without any position markers, just like Tony Rice old 1935 Martin D-28. The Martin Book says: HD-28LSV (1998-2000), based on D-28 #58957 owned by Clarence White and later Tony Rice, 4 15/16″ sound hole, bound finger board with no position markers. It doesn’t have the same pickguard as the legendary #58957 Martin D-28 and the machine heads are closed Kluson style, I believe the original ones would have been open back Waverly’s. Considering the $5,999.00 list price for the now discontinued Martin D-28CW, Clarence White Commemorative Edition, I think I got a decent Tony Rice copy pretty cheap. The sound is very deep, warm and woody but at the same time resonant and very punchy in the midrange. I’ve never played a guitar this fine so I’m still blown away every time I pick it up. It’s such a perfect bluegrass guitar so now I really need to learn some reels and become a bluegrass player. Last night I removed the LR Baggs Anthem SL that was installed, I love ebony bridges with long bone saddles so I really didn’t want to have a piezo strip stuck under it. Now it’s even more resonant and clear sounding. I’ve ordered a new LR Baggs Lyrics that I will install as soon as it arrives so I can take this baby out in public.

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAMartin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAThe unofficial Tony Rice model, the Martin HD-28LSV. Adirondack spruce top, scalloped X bracing, Rosewood back and sides with the large soundhole and a bound ebony fretboard without any position markers. I used to own a Martin SPD-16R that I could never get used to the neck on, too flat and modern profile but it sounded pretty nice. Having said that, there is a huge difference between a Martin and a MARTIN. This Martin HD-28LSV will blow the sock of any standard Martin D-28 and most Martin HD-28.

1978 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1978-79

Earlier this year I decided to buy a late 1970’s Fender Telecaster but ended up with three identical 1978-79 Fender Telecasters. The first 1978 Fender Telecaster was bought from a music store in Italy and served me really well during the summer but then I found this 1978-79 Fender Telecaster from Andy’s Really Great Guitars in Worcestershire, UK that I just couldn’t resist. I should of course have stopped there but stumbled upon a third 1979 Fender Telecaster from a record store in Southport, UK which I bought but now have sold. I’m planning to keep this 1978-79 Fender Telecaster since it’s lighter, 3.8 kg instead of 4.3-4.5 kg, the grain is amazing and most importantly it sounds awesome. It has a really nice full neck profile and I guess this is the Nancy I’ve always dreamt of. Well done me.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978 Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978

It’s always a bit disappointing to take a late 1970’s Fender apart since you realise that the headstock shows one year and all the other parts another. In this case the headstock and body sticker says 1978, #S840573, the pots say mid-May 1979, #1377920 and the neck stamp shows 17th of August 1979, #3395. Well done Fender, well done.

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978Taken from Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978A Fullerton built Fender Telecaster from 1978-79. Body and headstock shows 1978, pots and neck stamp shows mid-1979.

3 original Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978-79The three late 1970’s Fender Telecasters together, 1978 Fender Telecaster, 1978-79 Fender Telecaster and the now sold 1979 Fender Telecaster 

LR Baggs Lyrics

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968Levin LT-18, Made in Sweden in 1968

I recently installed a LR Baggs Lyrics in my 1968 Levin LT-18 and I’m well pleased with the result. This has been my main guitar for the past year and I’ve already tried a LR Baggs M1A, M80 and now a Lyrics. I’ve had a LR Baggs Lyrics installed in my Japan made Sigma DR-41 for about two years but I never really use that guitar since I have so nice Levin guitars to play on. The Sigma sounds fantastic with the Lyrics so I decided to leave it there and buy a brand new one for the LT-18 instead. The LR Baggs Lyrics sounds similar to the LR Baggs M80 but better, more natural and woody. I’ve also had a lot less feedback issues with the Lyrics, the M80 has been a nightmare with a full band on stage. Here you can compare the LR Baggs M1A, M80 and Lyrics fitted in the same guitar, a 1968 Levin LT-18.

Harmony H-162

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960'sHarmony H-162, Made in Chicago, USA in the late 1960’s

Two years ago I came across a couple of Harmony guitars, two late 1960’s Harmony H-162 acoustic guitars and a late 1950’s Harmony Monterey H1325 archtop guitar. I sold the archtop pretty much straight away since I got two Levin archtops at the same time. Both of the Harmony H-162 were in desperate need of a neck reset and were unplayable so they got packed away for the first year and a half and then in April I got around to remove the necks and now last week I finally managed to reset the first of the two. This Harmony H-162 feels a lot like my 1965 Goya T-16, but of course ladder braced instead of X-braced. These were called folk guitars which is a grand concert size, the exact same size as a Martin 000. The Harmony H-162 was produced in Chicago from 1940-1971, this one is most likely from the late 1960’s looking at the headstock. Even though it was an inexpensive guitar at the time they were built with all solid woods, back and sides of selected quality mahogany with a resonant spruce top. It’s a surprisingly well sounding guitar for being a mass produced ladder braced guitar, way better sounding than any Gibson B-15 or B-25 I’ve heard and it cost a third. The neck is pretty wide which makes it extremely comfortable for finger picking. Considering the price of a late 1960’s Martin 000-18, or even a Gibson B-25, the Harmony H-162 is a bargain for a USA made all solid wood vintage guitar. This guitar is now for sale.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960'sOnce the neck was reset all the hard work was done. The rest was just cleaning, polishing frets, oiling fretboard, repairing some binding, installing machine heads and creating a new truss-rod cover.

Harmony H162, 1959 Harmony catalogue
I got myself two late 1960’s H-162 so now I will start on the second one and get that neck reset as well. Taken from a 1959 Harmony catalogue

How to… reset a neck

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960'sHarmony H-162, Made in Chicago, USA in the late 1960’s

This is a project that could have been done in two days but has taken two years. I guess it’s partly my fault, I wasn’t really sure how to reset a neck so I kept putting it off. I also have a 1.5 years old daughter and she is like a black hole when it comes to making time disappear. Anyway, now it’s done and everything worked out pretty great. I steamed off the necks back in April and then I had a lot of gigs and moved house in the middle and then last week I finally managed to get the guitar back together.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
I drilled a small hole under the 14th fret and tried to steam it off that way but it worked really badly so in the end I got frustrated and just removed the fretboard and got the neck off that way instead. I glued the fretboard back straight away so I wouldn’t mix the parts between the two late 1960’s Harmony H-162 that I had lying around at home. Once the neck angle was corrected I glued the neck back with Tite­bond 506/​4 classic wood glue.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
The late 1960’s Harmony H-162 in parts, it was actually quite easy to reset a neck. It’s pretty worn but the solid woods are really nice, mahogany back and sides with a two piece spruce top.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
I cleaned up the dovetail and heel with a chisel and then adjusted the neck angle with a file, it felt less risky than doing it with a chisel. I didn’t have to remove much for getting the action down and making it playable again.

 

1979 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant on the 4th of July 1979

As usual when it comes to me and guitars I never just buy one, well I do at first but then I always end up with two or three in the end. Since I really liked my 1978 Fender Telecaster I started to search for others and ended up with three different 1978 Fender Telecaster. Now after serious consideration, and  moving house and realising that I don’t have as much guitar storing space as before, I’ve decided to sell two of them. It was great in a way to get to explore three identical guitars from the same year, to compare the sound, build and feel of them and to learn more about late 1970’s Fender Telecasters. This one is great, it has a few battle scars and the frets are a bit low but that just builds character. All three of these Telecasters have a pretty chunky neck, something I love. They are around 23-24 mm on the first fret and about 24-25 mm on the 12th, not bad for a Telecaster. Unfortunately they weigh like a Les Paul, around 4-4.5 kg, perhaps that’s where the great twang and sustain comes from. As soon as I get the new flat in order I will make some videos of all three to compare them. This guitar is now for sale.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979I took this guitar apart and checked all the numbers and this one was made in 1979 even though the S8 headstock serial indicates 1978. The neck stamp says #2794 which means week 27, 1979, day 4, that was Thursday the 4th of July 1979. Here are the basic numbers to check:

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978

The colour codes I mentioned in my previous post might just have been for Stratocasters because these Telecasters are stamped with a large A, which I assume means nice good looking grain for a natural see through top.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979I filled all the dents on the back of the neck with Nitro lacquer so now you can’t feel them when you play. The volume pot has been changed at some point and the knobs are not the same as on the other two S8 Telecasters. The frets are quite low and I need to replace the first five since they are pretty worn but she plays fine as it is. Except for that, it’s all original and sounds amazing. If I had space for them, I would have kept all three.

Martin SPD-16R

Martin SPD-16R Made in USA1999Martin SPD-16R, Made in USA 1999

I have this beautiful 1999 Martin SPD-16R for sale. I really like it but the likelihood of me playing on anything that isn’t a Swedish Levin is so slim that it’s not worth keeping such a great guitar. I haven’t opened the case to my beloved Sigma DR-41 for ages either, it’s so hard to put the Levin guitars down. These late 1990’s Martin SPD-16R has quite a following and is getting harder to find so if you are interested send me an email. Update: This guitar is sold now

1978 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978
Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1978

I sold my 1979 Fender Stratocaster a couple of weeks ago and managed to find myself a late 1970’s Fender Telecaster at the same time. This was my secret plan all along, sell the Stratocaster and get a Telecaster instead. I’ve dreamt of a 1970’s Fender Telecaster for over 20 years and now I finally got one. Ideally I would have loved an early 50’s one but I realised already at 15 years old that a late 70’s is probably all I could ever afford. I found this 1978 Fender Telecaster in Musicarte Strumenti Musicali, a guitar shop in , Italy. I got a pretty descent price but you never really know what you are getting, unless you have seen all the numbers stamped on the guitar you are just taking someone’s word for it to be all original. I’ve also never bought anything from Italy, a lot of eBay sellers refuse to ship to Italy because of problems with the post and perhaps even more, Italian buyers. I just had to trust these guys and luckily it worked out fine. I really love this guitar, the neck is chunkier than the 1979 Fender Stratocaster which I love, the fatter the better. The colour will hopefully darken over the years from the sun which will make it even more Bruce Springsteen and Roy Buchannan looking. Actually, I guess this is my Nancy now, even if she is a late 1970’s natural Telecaster and not an early 1950’s butterscotch one like Buchannan’s. It weighs a good 4.3 kg but is so worth it for the feel of the neck and the sustain of the body. The pickups are pretty damn good too, I really like how sweet it sounds. Overall, an amazing Telecaster and a dream come true for me, even though my Japan made 1981 Greco TL-800 is almost as good. This guitar is now for sale.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978

I haven’t taken the guitar apart yet to check that all the numbers match the serial number. I managed to date my 1979 Fender Stratocaster via this site, Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters, I found it extremely helpful. Since the S7, S8, S9 etc stamped on the headstock are so inaccurate to show if the guitar was made in 1977, 1978 or 1979 you really need check all the other numbers to know what year the guitar was made. Here are the basic numbers to check:

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978

Here are the colour that were available in the late 1970’s, I have to try to find #521 stamped on mine to make sure that it was originally natural colour and hasn’t been stripped. Antigua (523*), Black (506*), Blond (501), Natural (521*), Sunburst (500), Tobacco Sunburst (525*), Walnut (522), White (505*), Wine (524*)

I used the 1978 Fender Telecaster for the first time last weekend at our gig at the AMCCC – American Cars 2017 in Platja d’Aro, Girona.