Repair: Harmony H22 Bass Ebay Disaster

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by vid1900, Dec 16, 2019.

  1. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    Guy brings in an old case.

    Guy: Hey, bet you don't know what this is! [opens moldy case]
    Vid: Moldy, Harmony.....H22? [it's missing the pickguard, threw me for a second]
    G: Yes! Pretty rare huh? This is the 13th one ever made!
    V: You don't see too many, but guys worship them because they sound like an upright bass. They re-issued them last year.
    G: Really????
    V: Yeah. Not a perfect replica, but it kinda, sorta is a H22..... at least from the upper balcony, 15th row.

    G: Well, I need a fret level.
    V: Buddy, this thing does not have any frets at all. I've got to level down to the deepest valley here, and that does not even leave tinfoil behind.
    G: I think you are wrong there, the guy who sold it told me his luthier said it has "plenty of meat for another leveling".
    V: Better send it to his luthier, because in my 40 years, it can't be done.

    [15 uncomfortable seconds of silence passes]

    G: I just want to keep it all original. Even these strings are the original strings.
    V: I hear ya. I'm the first one to stop someone from ruining a classic guitar by doing unnecessary repairs. See these divots on the back of the strings? Those are wearing the frets out faster too, cuz they are sharp.
    G: Yeah, I noticed that. But still: original strings!
    V: I might gently suggest you put the original strings in a heat sealed bag, and play with a new set, on some new frets.
    G: Do people do that?
    V: All the time. We've got a heat sealer machine just for people like you.
    G: [nodding] OK, OK, I can maybe see that.
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  2. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    V: What's up with this nut??
    G: That's how they were back then!
    V: No.
    G: I'm serious!


    V: I've worked on these before, and never have I seen a neon pink piece of plexiglass as a nut.
    G: I swear, the guy said that was original!
    V: It's a piece of crap, I swear. I guarantee you that the original was a white piece of plastic or bone.
    G: Mmmmmm.....You might be wrong on that.
    V: Google it, and show me a single bass anywhere on earth that has that nut.
    G: Yeah, but this is an early specimen.
    V: Let's heatseal it.
    G: Seriously???
    V: Yep, it's too fragile to use - old, brittle, loosing it's florescence from UV light....
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  3. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    G: I can't believe people heatseal guitar parts.
    V: Old pickguards especially. They outgas and shrink. They become more brittle and finally the screwholes shatter. We seal them up, and you keep them in the freezer while you use a carefree replica. If you ever sell it, you give the buyer the frozen original. People love that.
    V: Speaking of pickguards, you got it?
    G: No, that's why I got the guitar for only $1800, because no one can find those guards anymore.
    V: Gotcha, we'll make a new one. And a new thumb-rest for it too.
    G: You can't just **make** a new one!
    V: It's just plastic, not unicorn horn.

    Note here that a knot of Rosewood has been lost from the edge of the fretbnoard.
  4. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Do you want to play it, or flip it? If its a player, it needs a refret and a new nut, just get 'er done. An unplayable bass is wall art.
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  5. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    Punch List:

    1. Refret with same size frets, but in Stainless
    2. Make new nut in Bone
    3. Make new Pickguard in single ply plastic
    4. Make new Rosewood Thumb Rest
    5. Put body in gas chamber and de-mold with formaldehyde gas.
    6. Solder pickup back in (was in a zip lock bag for reasons unknown, could be bad)
    7. Straighten bent tuning peg
    8. Ground bridge to Jack (appears to be totally un-grounded.)

    Ready for de-molding:


    Neck pocket was TIGHT. That thing had never been apart.
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  6. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Sweet old bird gets rejuvenated, warms my heart.
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  7. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019

    If your lifetime dream was a Harmony H22, then this one needs a bunch of work.

    Otherwise, like you said, it's just unplayable wall art.
    Fluid Power likes this.
  8. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    This was one of the better frets that came out in a single piece.

    There was no evidence of glue.

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  9. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    I used some of the fretboard sanding dust, and ended up filling in the missing knot.

    This angle might show the knothole better, 4th fret:

  10. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    Here she is on the leveling jig (sorry about the messy bench, pics for posting were an afterthought, lol).


    You can see the nut slot, no way was that neon plexiglass nut original.

    Truss rod nut was re-greased, and adjusts with a 1/4" nutdriver.

    Fretboard had a 12" radius, so frets were rolled to the same before installation.

    The neck was tensioned with new strings, tuned up, then clamped in place.

    Strings were removed, and tops of frets were covered in blue Sharpie to see any low spots
  11. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    After the frets were leveled under tension, they were re-crowned, file marks removed with sandpaper, then hit the buffing wheel station for a full mirror finish:

    Stainless frets are quicker to install because they polish out faster than Nickel. Don't let anyone tell you they take longer, they don't. Less grades of sandpaper, and ready for the green polishing compound.

    Don't leave regular masking tape on more than 2 hours.

    Don't use regular masking tape on fragile finishes, either (go with the low-tak blue). This lacquer was plenty solid for regular 3M masking tape.
  12. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    Here she is, frets polished and Rosewood oiled.

    Note the knot hole has been filled, for smooth playing.

    You would never notice that the knot was filled. It's seamless and natural looking.

  13. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    The fretboard is wider than even a Gibson bass, so I made a new nut totally from scratch.

    Even the **unbleached** bone seemed alarmingly white, so I soaked the finished nut in a cup of coffee overnight.

    I like to see half of the string diameter standing above the finished nut.

    You know the nut is cut correctly if you don't hear any pinging or ticking as you tune up with your ear to the headstock.

    Here you can see:

    Piece of neon plexiglass **nut**, unbleached buffalo bone nut blank, and finished/installed nut.
  14. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    dude! where are you?
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  15. Very nice restoration so far, and a classic bass. There was just a thread recently on the H22 I think, a "what kind of bass is this?" thread, where maybe Tal was playing one?

    Anyway, looking forward to the rest of the process.
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  16. There is something to that, though it's beyond me to put it into scientific terms, but the best nuts on my basses and guitars have shown a portion of wound strings above the slots. Very nicely done.
    MCF and vid1900 like this.
  17. Siggy


    Mar 15, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Nicely done
    vid1900 likes this.
  18. MCF


    Sep 1, 2014
    Only $1800 because the pickguard was missing? Typo, right? I’d love to sell a few basses to that guy.

    Fun thread.
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    $1800, eh? Well at least you'll get it working again. Great job so far.
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  20. fivestringdan

    fivestringdan Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2001
    Oh come on! You could have totally crowned the fret..rofl