Hollow Archtop, my new Project Guitar.

Volitions Advocate

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Hey guys, just got back from an auction.  And i got some goods!!
for 160 bucks (including the auctioneer's fee) I got 2 guitar stands, a keyboard stand, a boom mic stand all brand new, as well as a Hardcase for a bass. brand new. I put my Dean EVO in it. it fits but not so well, but at least it works. i havent had a hardcase for it and I"ve owned it for over a year.

And last but not least.. this amazing project guitar. I got for 30 bucks.!!!  I'm quite sure its hand made by some guy.. who knows i could but wrong, but I dont think it was made by any universally recognizable name.

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Its an Arch top, the back has an arch in it too... No bridge just a Tailpiece.
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Its definately got a lot of work to put into it.. I dont like that tailpiece and I'd like a nicer one.  As for a bridge I originally thought I'd make one out of rosewood but upon reflection I want to be able to use this guitar live so I was thinking of going with a Piezo Bridge.  I'd love to be able to put some 'buckers in there but I dont think I'd be able to do it easily or without ruining the guitar.  Plus then you can see more of the wood.

The inlays arent' flush with the fretboard... not sure how to fix that.  I need to replace all the frets, they're worn nearly flat. the way they are now I can tell there woudl be a lot of buzzing.  So maybe I can pull the frets out and then sand the whole fretboard level? or maybe The inlays will pop out ? so i can clean their cavities a bit (its got some gunk on it) and maybe sand them down too? I dont know if you can sand inlays or not.. they're MOP, and they've got nice figuring you cant see in the images.. its got to be cleaned up tho.
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Here you can see the inlays aren't higher than the frets but they're certainly higher than the fretboard.

Theres also a nasty crack in the back of the wood. Its just a crack in the grain not like a damaged bit. and it looks like who ever made this thing didn't make the back big enough or he didn't measure twice because the binding in the back doesn't match up with the  back.
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Heres a profile shot, you can see the neck angle really well and the arched top looks great from the side.  I'm a little worried though about the headstock, it looks a little thin. and as far as I can tell this thing doesn't have an adustable truss rod.. it may not have a truss rod at all..

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My plan was to plug the holes with some dowel and put a nice veneer on the top. maybe that would add some stability, and I'll re drill the machine head holes in a spot not so close to the edge.

The heel looks alright:
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So it needs a nut, a bridge.. perferrably a Piezo one that I can work with. A new Tail piece, new frets (i'm thinking Warmoth SS) clean the whole thing up. fix the inlays.  I'd like to sand the finish off.. Its not terribly thick. it looks like maybe that cheap spray stuff.  I know most of the guys on here are die-hard natural finish fans, but I'd love to dye this think a deep color like red or blue with a nice burst over.. cover up the binding because its all discoloured and awful looking. then with a nice tail piece on here this thing could be a killer guitar.

I'm really excited about this.  But I need help.  I"ve only ever assembled one Warmoth before and warmoth doesn't really have much in the way for hollow archtops like this.  So if any of you gearheads and luthiers out there have some advice i'll take it.  And i'll post pics of my progress.

Cheers guys!

 

dbw

Senior member
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4,531
You could get an archtop tune-o like this (http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Bridges,_tailpieces/Archtop_guitar_bridges/Tune-o-matic_Bridge_For_Archtop_Guitar.html) and put a piezo TOM bridge on it.
 

Volitions Advocate

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It could be, i'm not sure. theres a little design in the top of the headstock..but it looks like it was carved with ap encil.. not a real tool.
 

jackthehack

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5,630
From the peghead shape, inlays and especially the distinctive f-hole shape, that has to be an old Harmony Cremona; may have originally sold under a Silvertone or other brand name, from the 1940's

http://harmony.demont.net/model/57.htm

Here's a later Silvertone/Harmony "hot rod" electric version:

60s_Silvertone_Harmony_Meteor_III.jpg


You should put a Bigsby and dogear P90s on that...



 

Patrick from Davis

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2,197
I have Bob Benedetto's book on how to build an archtop.  You should grab it if you want a ton of good info on what you can/cannot do and why.  I think mine is in storage in the garage.  Even if you just get the book for the pictures, it is a lot of fun.  One of my favorites is the guitar he made out of pine, knots and all...  Try checking local libraries, maybe you'll get lucky.
Patrick

 

Volitions Advocate

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Jack you're the man!
Thats totally my guitar!!

I can see theres lots of different versions of it.  A few of those pictures had the same tail piece.  and on other I could tell by the pattern of screw holes on the back of my headstock that they used the same tuning heads.  Who ever owned this guitar tried to mod it I think. but didn't get very far.

I've verified that the problem with the inlays and the back is wood shrinkage.  it cracked on the back because of it and thats why theres the gap between the wood and the binding on the back.  I suppose if this guitar is 60 years old it would do this if not properly humidified.  Dang I was excited yesterday about this project..  today i'm freaking wigged out! :headbang:

Welcome to your first vintage guitar Curtis.

So now the question is....  do i hot rod it? or restore it  :doh::sad1: :help: :dontknow:
 

Mapleg4

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491
Volitions Advocate said:
Jack you're the man!
Thats totally my guitar!!

I can see theres lots of different versions of it.  A few of those pictures had the same tail piece.  and on other I could tell by the pattern of screw holes on the back of my headstock that they used the same tuning heads.  Who ever owned this guitar tried to mod it I think. but didn't get very far.

I've verified that the problem with the inlays and the back is wood shrinkage.  it cracked on the back because of it and thats why theres the gap between the wood and the binding on the back.  I suppose if this guitar is 60 years old it would do this if not properly humidified.  Dang I was excited yesterday about this project..  today i'm freaking wigged out! :headbang:

Welcome to your first vintage guitar Curtis.

So now the question is....   do i hot rod it? or restore it  :doh::sad1: :help: :dontknow:



I reccomend you to contact this Harmony website, show them the pics and see if you can get some parts, tuners, bridge, etc. Maybe you could do something about the finish on the front.
 

jackthehack

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5,630
There may be a "factory pre-set" truss rod that would require pulling the neck to attempt to readjust. An example of a cutaway version of the same guitar in near mint condition seen below is listed for $595, hard to tell if that's a good guideline as to value or not.

HarmonyBig.jpg
 

Xplorervoodoo

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984
Volitions Advocate said:
So now the question is....   do i hot rod it? or restore it  :doh::sad1: :help: :dontknow:

In my opinion, if you want it to be yours, hot rod it, and make it yours.  If you want it to be someone else's, restore it.  Either way, it should be pretty cool when you're done.  :icon_thumright:
 

Volitions Advocate

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1,239
well I think i'll go the middle road.

I'd like to stain the top.. I have to sand the whole thing.. the guy who was working on this before did a really sloppy job and laquer runs all over it. and theres some splatter on the inside i can see with a flashlight.  I'd like to maybe dye the top a deep color like a trans blue or red with a really cool les paul style burst over. the way gibson used to do it.  and i'll just put peizo's in it so that I dont have to cut any new holes.  I havent decided about the pickguard yet.  That woudl have to be handmade I think.  I also found the serial number.  I know theres places you can type that kind of thing in and it will tell you when it was manufactured and such.  If anybody knows where that is I'd love to find out.  As far as i know gibson has one on their website but obviously its just for gibson guitars.

@ JackTheHack

I think you're right about the factory preset truss rod.. I mean i can't be sure without taking the  guitar apart which Id rather not do.  Bu tlooking at my ibanez the truss rod adjuster is inside the tone hole. you don't see it at all at the headstock.  So assuming this guitar was built in a similar fashion, its there it just can't be adjusted. 
As it stands the neck is straighter than the neck on every gutiar I've got save my warmoth.  I'm kind of amazed, its ruler-straight.  So hopefully this puppy will handle a set of martin lights once its in playable condition without much bow...  Its definatly had steel strings on it before.
 

blue313

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Yeah you can sand the inlays, especially if you're planning on refretting and leveling the board.  But, the old adhesive coming loose is all thats probably happening...and will continue to happen over time.  Just try to glue em back down flush with the wood first so you remove as little of the original inlay material as possible (trying to find a good match for an older inlay can suck if you destroy one.)  Some super glue and an exacto knife to carefully get underneath should be do it.
 

chuck7

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+1 to Jacks suggestion of a bigsby and dog ear p90s :)  Even if you dont want to go with pickups, you could still do the bigsby!
 

Volitions Advocate

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coudl do the bigsby now and keep with piezos till a later date when I feel confident enough with my skills to put some pups in.

I actually really like the idea of a bigsby
 

Volitions Advocate

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woudln't I have to cut holes in the top?

I know the fretwork is going to be the hardest.  Im happy that at least they are already in the right place and I dont ahve any measuring to do .

How would I go about adding pups? without being able to reach at them from inside to do the wiring?  Id have to take the back off wouldn't i?
 

jackthehack

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5,630
Depends on what you want to use for a pickup(s) whether you need to cut any holes, that's up to you.

You could just install a Baggs TOM pick up system in an archmount, or a Fishman undersaddle transducer in a wooden bridge.

ES-335's for example have no control cavity or rear access; you wire everything up outside the guitar and fish it through, rather than taking the back off.
 

DangerousR6

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15,464
jackthehack said:
From the peghead shape, inlays and especially the distinctive f-hole shape, that has to be an old Harmony Cremona; may have originally sold under a Silvertone or other brand name, from the 1940's

http://harmony.demont.net/model/57.htm

Here's a later Silvertone/Harmony "hot rod" electric version:

60s_Silvertone_Harmony_Meteor_III.jpg


You should put a Bigsby and dogear P90s on that...

Duuuuuuuude, that was my very first electric guitar, cept mine was a blonde model, and no Bigsby trem. i traded my trumpet and $50 for it in a guitar shop in Beaverrton,OR. Then later traded the Silvertone and $135 to a guitar shop in Portland for a '76 Les Paul.
 
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