NBD - 1960’s Harmony H22 - A project begins...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RobTheRiot, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    I regularly keep my eyes on the marketplace sights, just to see if there are any deals. Altho I don’t have any needs, I’ve been wanting a Hollowbody again, so when this bass popped up for a price where I’d get change from 3 $20 bills, I was intrigued.

    Tried to do some quick research, the pickup made me think 60’s Japan, but the most distinguishing feature I think is the odd alignment of the 3 Neck bolts. A little looking and it led me to believe this is a Harmony H22, the singlecut version which was made between ‘61 & ‘69, and surprisingly, made in the US as far as I can tell.

    I plugged it in & I was sold immediately... an amazingly clear but old school thump, and really “uprightish”, which is really what I was hoping for.

    A couple observations:
    - Electronics all work, even the “baritone” switch functions.
    - Apparently pickup is a DeArmond Gold Tone - sounds great!
    - The neck is incredibly thin - a jazz bass feels chunky in comparison - and bass is a 30” scale.
    - Really light, thin, and resonant; it projects decent volume acoustically.
    - A pretty big body in all but depth, but very comfortable to play.

    Now, as can be seen, this Bass was practically given away because it needs some work... luckily it’s mostly cosmetic, basically reversing someone’s half completed, poor refinish job. LUCKILY, the binding is undamaged and in great shape all around. The neck is in good shape, and adjustments on the rosewood bridge work well. Unfortunately the tuners have been replaced, as the originals are 2 pieces, each piece containing 2 tuners each.

    I’ll probably make a restoration thread in the LC, but in meantime I hope someone can answer a few questions.

    - Where the wood has been stripped, it looks quite dry in places: should I do something to nourish the wood before putting a finish on it?

    - The bare wood seems dirty, is there an effective way of cleaning it before finishing it?

    - All pictures I’ve seen these have had some kind of burst finish, so I’m assuming the finish on the back was done as part of the half finished refinish? We’re any sold with a solid color finish?

    That’s it for now, I’ve yet to really dig in, but I’m really excited. Hopefully I can bring it back close to its original glory, as the price these go for in good condition is telling of the sound & build quality of these Basses.

    Please, if anyone has any info on these, or can help with any restoration ideas or advice, chime in. I’d love any info & ideas TB has to offer!

    .... and now, the pics!

    96FDAC9E-C3E2-44CC-AA9F-753A2A263044.png CFEA6A83-3BAC-4F49-9BE8-E12FB08264DF.png 5D0E6C4D-8309-469F-9742-2406458E272C.png 6F25AA07-A918-480E-B059-42DE2F30D4A3.png 5E629D80-FFBC-4982-B2B0-C8F5B40282F5.png
  2. That looks fantastic, what a score! Looks pretty good with the current finish imo.. just needs tort. :D;)

    How’s the intonation with that bridge?
    RobTheRiot likes this.
  3. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Sweet old bird you got there. Wood is dead, I wouldn’t worry about feeding it any. :D The new finish will seal it up. What are you thinking for finish? I’m guessing it was painted originally, no splashy figure. I’d probably paint it again, or maybe a darker stain or dye. If you want to leave it natural, I’d try good old Naptha and a fine scotch-brite pad, should lift the dirty funk off and then it just evaporates. Good ventilation mandatory, of course, and no smoking! I wouldn’t touch it with water or anything with a lot of water in it. How’s it hang? I had a weird old Japanese hollowbody years ago, fun bass but a horrific neck diver. Please post resto photos.
    Reedt2000 and RobTheRiot like this.
  4. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    Thanks! I’m excited about this one!

    I think the pictures don’t quite reveal the state of the finish - the back is clearly finished, but the front & sides have been stripped and seem to be dirty up close.

    I haven’t adjusted anything yet, but the intonation is really good as is; the action is a pretty high, so I’ll be adjusting that soon. I did test the adjustment wheels on the bridge & they turn readily, so I’m hoping it won’t be much trouble getting it set up nicely.
  5. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    Ha! Fair point about the wood being dead; after I posted this I thought that the finish might be enough.

    Not sure which way I’ll go yet w/ the finish - almost every one of the H22 ‘s I’ve seen have a kind of dark burst paint job, kind of gold into an outter rim of black. Some also have that same effect on the back of the neck. That’s one consideration, or I can go with something I have more experience with, like staining it then finishing it w/ either a wipe on poly or a Tung oil finish. I like how the back currently looks, with that light colored stain.... I have to think on it, and of course I’m open to ideas!

    Thanks for tip about Naptha & scotchbrite pad, I think I’ll give that a go... I def want to remove some of the funk before sealing it up.

    Last, it actually hangs very comfortably with no real neck dive... even tho the body is light, it’s big enough and the back strap pin is far enough back to offset the headstock (which isn’t really too large and the tuners seem pretty light weight also.); it actually hangs in a pretty ideal playing position.

    Thanks again for your feedback; I’ll def create a post to follow the restoration and so I can pick the brains of TB along the way!
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  6. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    An interesting note - most of these I’ve seen have had a pickguard, kind a triangular batwing shape. I have seen pics of some w/o, so figured some came w/o a guard, mine being one.

    However, upon closer inspection I see where screw holes were filled, and they match the locations of pickguard screws perfectly.
    So that’s another decision, to replace pickguard, or leave without... I honestly think it looks cool both ways.

    Also, here’s a pic of the what’s under the bridge cover (a replacement also, I believe). Decidedly un-high tech, huh?

    Matt Liebenau and Gilmourisgod like this.
  7. roskuski


    Oct 25, 2007
    I thought you might appreciate a scan of the bass page from my 1967 Harmony catalog. The H22 is right out in front. My Harmony Rocket guitar has the same 3 bolt neck attachment. I always wanted to get an H22 (or maybe even the 2 pickup H27) but never ran into one. Congrats on your find!

    Oh.. the last page of the catalog has drawings of their 2 factories in Chicago.. definitely American made during that era.

    Duder, Mastermold, RobTheRiot and 2 others like this.
  8. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    Thank you for that - very cool piece of literature to have.

    Interesting, in my search I hadn’t seen the H27, didn’t realize there was a 2 p/u cousin to the H22!

    And Made in Chicago... I really thought those p/u’s were a dead give away for MIJ - I learned something new! A little research did reveal that the p/u’s are one of many variations made by DeArmond at the time.

    Thanks again!
    Axstar likes this.
  9. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Nice score.

    I used an H-22 for several years. I especially liked the tone with the toilet handle in the flush the highs position.

    Good luck with the restoration.
    Axstar and RobTheRiot like this.
  10. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    Here's a couple shots of me with my first bass-circa 1977...

    GarageBand.jpg RickHarmonyBass1978.jpg
    Guitar tuners made it a bear to keep in tune, but it was a good first bass. $75 in a Los Angeles pawn shop- played through a Peavey Mk IV & 2x15 cab. Had a lot of fun with that guitar. Bought my first Precision in 79. Still have the P bass, wish I still had the Harmony. Oh well...
    Mastermold and RobTheRiot like this.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    nice score! congrats on your new instrument and great good luck on your restoration quest! :thumbsup:
    RobTheRiot likes this.
  12. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    Great looking bass; thanks for sharing!

    Too bad you still don’t have it, but I’m sure it sounded huge thru the Peavey and 2x15!
    Coincidentally, I have a Peavey 400 Series bass head and Carvin 2x15, both from the 70’s (It is a complete beast - just to much to carry for almost every gig), and I can’t wait to plug in mine and hear that awesome old school hollow body thump thru those 15’s!!

    So you think I’d be better off going w/ more modern, reliable tuners instead of bringing it back to complete stock (assuming I can even find those 2 on a side tuning machines)? That’s one of the decisions I must make - of course if I go more modern & reliable on the tuners, I’d still have to find a set that is visually compatible w/ the overall look.

    Thanks again for posting!
  13. Great find! Thanks for sharing!
    RobTheRiot likes this.
  14. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    I would really try to find some 2 x 2 tuners like something on a Gibson Grabber or the like. Tuning mine with those small plastic guitar machines was a real bear. Probably the number one reason I upgraded to my Precision.
    RobTheRiot likes this.
  15. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Beautiful!! Personally, I'd go with the tuners you have here... they seem different than the plastic button ones usually seen, might even be replacements. Definitely on my "dream bass" list!

    RobTheRiot likes this.
  16. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv

    Actually I might end up sticking with these... they are def replacements as the original screw holes are still visible, another minor detail I have to clean up.

    Esthetically they work ok - they seem slightly newer, but the sealed back design doesn’t stand out as out of place or anachronistic.

    And, after checking them out more thoroughly, functionally they are A-ok. Actually they are quite smooth & seem secure.

    Totally original is cool, but I have no doubt just from looking at them, that like @filmtex said, the original tuners were a bear to deal with.

    Since this bass is intended to be a player when finished, not just a restoration project to be hung on the wall, functionality trumps style.

    Thanks everyone for your input & comments!
  17. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    The chrome tailpiece cover definitely is Teisco. The bridge and tailpiece, who knows? Definitely not original. And the three bolt neck seems to be a Chicago thing. Kay used it too.
  18. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    This may be a silly question, but I’m apparently backwards today, doing research after making a purchase.
    Now, I see the scotchbrite pads actually come in all different “grits”.

    I figured that out *after* going to supermarket, looking at selection, thinking the green ones felt too course, thus picking up a pack of the blue “non-scratch” scour pads.

    Do you think these will be sufficient to clean the bare wood up in combination w/ Naptha, or should I go pick up a different kind and/or grit of scotchbrite pads?

    Also, while I’m here, do I need to worry about the Naptha having any detrimental effect on the celluloid binding? I’d hate to be cleaning the bass and melt the binding or something crazy....

    Thanks for any help!
  19. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    Thanks for responding!

    I’m quite sure you’re correct, the chrome tailpiece isn’t original - the original flares out on the bottom and sits flush on the bass - guess it’d make sense if this one is Teisco if it was replaced back in the day when both were common.

    If you look at H22’s online tho, I’m quite sure the rosewood tailpiece and adjustable bridge are both original; they are identical visually as best I can tell without having both in my hands.

    Interesting that the bolt alignment can be placed geographically - that adds up tho, as @roskuski above mentioned that Harmony had 2 factories in Chicago.
  20. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Naptha won’t touch celluloid binding, but dont slop it on either. If you can find them, use the white scotchbrite pads, I think that’s the finest. I avoid steel wool like the plague, all those tiny steel particles lodge in the grain and rust eventually, causing staining on some woods, plus it sticks to pickups.
    RobTheRiot likes this.