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Thread: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

  1. #1
    FIDDLES with STRADOLINS your_diamond's Avatar
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    Default Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Looks like an elevated fretboard. Has a tight hairline crack on the back.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/165785987829?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    It's a Supertone Viol the firm's most expensive mandolin made by Harmony in the 1920s- to a shape pioneered by Shutt. Jake Wildwood has stated these are hand carved and sound great.

  3. #3
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Brisk bidding ...
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Michael Daves playing one on "The Georgia Crawl"...

    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Harmony-made Shutt style most likely. Jake Wildwood has one here and he is pretty certain of its manufacture by construction features: https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/20...tyle-viol.html

    Here are a few pics from the original eBay listing that the OP linked to (horrible photos):
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    Last edited by Jim Garber; Nov-21-2022 at 11:11pm.
    Jim

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    They weren't exclusively marketed as Supertone's. It was a Harmony product.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Isn't the pickguard cut down on that one? Also am wondering if there is a crack on the bass side near the tailpiece? Still, if it doesn't go for a lot probably a good deal. Was looking for one of those before getting the latest SOL.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    I think they had a pickguard that was cut out to not block the treble f-hole.
    Jim

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  13. #9
    FIDDLES with STRADOLINS your_diamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    Brisk bidding ...
    Sue, You make me smile. M

    It needs work. Binding is coming unglued (neck near the nut). The last picture shows a damaged back edge and the (mentioned) back crack... and that's only what's not "hidden" because as Jake mentioned, these have NO BRACING on a carved top.

    6 days 11 hours left to the auction at $87.00 (+ $17.85 shipping, but I think that varies by your location) with 22 bids (now 8:04 AM 11/22). It's not setting the world on fire but it's not exactly "THE Christmas present" everyone is currently looking for. The name Harmony comes with a bad reputation*** (of plywood guitars). It's not a Gibson but like Stradolins, occasionally Harmony puts out something that is just so sweet (if repaired properly). If I didn't have three projects that are taking forever, I might consider this. Currently, if I bring this to either of my two Repair Guys, they might kill me, especially right before the Christmas rush.

    The pickguard is one of the best parts of this mandolin. Is it (thick) wood? Ebony? Brazilian Rosewood? So cool! Terrible photo's tho.

    ***For those of you with a delicate disposition, no Harmony or any other instruments were harmed in the making of this story. If you are a Harmony fan please realize that I am too, or I would not have started this thread.
    Last edited by your_diamond; Nov-22-2022 at 8:46am.

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Quite a few days to go, though, Mike. Jake's description sounds tempting, but his workload is so large right now, I don't think he'd be super excited to see this arriving on his doorstep.

    I see what Eric was looking at (possible crack), but was also wondering about the adjacent dark spot. Shadow or something else?
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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    FIDDLES with STRADOLINS your_diamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Oh come on Sue, get your sled dogs out and mush on over to Jake's with it. It's gonna be a long cold snowy winter and he needs something to do.

  17. #12

    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    It's worth mentioning that Harmony made very few plywood guitars until the firm's last few years. The company's first f hole archtop- called the De Luxe in 1933 had ply sides and back but solid top. This was unusual, as for decades Harmony- unlike even Gibson steered clear of plywood- whereas Regal and on a much bigger scale, Kay, embraced it. Harmony did sell low end guitars but these were made of solid wood. I think this mandolin may have much potential- the profile of the top's arch would be crucial but I cannot see anything disturbing with it from the photos but better photos would be useful.

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    FIDDLES with STRADOLINS your_diamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    My Aunt got an F-hole archtop Harmony guitar for her birthday in 1942 that was all laminated (top back and sides). We pretty much destroyed it between the basement humidity and the abuse of 5 siblings and countless friends. The Harmony Sovereign guitars of the 1960's were good beginner's guitars but I have no idea if they were laminated or solid.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    In the early 30's in trade publications Kay was advertising their laminated back and sides as a feature. Nicer Washburn's with laminated sides were a hot item in the mid 20's (see the link below). Harmony built almost all of their mandolins solid until the very end. I still doubt that after the mid 20's Harmony cared what their instruments sounded like. They were manufacturing a cheap commodity.

    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Muse...af/lhgold.html
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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  22. #15

    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    "My Aunt got an F-hole archtop Harmony guitar for her birthday in 1942 that was all laminated."

    Are you sure it was made by Harmony? It may have been Silvertone branded and by then, Sears had sold Harmony and guitars made by Kay and Regal were sold under that new brand name as well as Harmony. As far as I know, Harmony never made any all laminated archtops- Kay certainly did. Old Harmony guitars normally feature a multitude of cracks- unlike Kay guitars although Kay did make all solid guitars- and I have one with its own fair share of cracks- especially on the back.

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  24. #16
    FIDDLES with STRADOLINS your_diamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    "My Aunt got an F-hole archtop Harmony guitar for her birthday in 1942 that was all laminated."

    Are you sure it was made by Harmony?
    I am 100% sure it was a Harmony! I asked my brother what brand it was, without giving any hints. He agrees, "Harmony in big white letters". I will never forget that (my first) guitar. We wore it out playing Beatles and "The Animals" songs, even before Eric Burdon got top billing. It actually pealed apart, layer by layer.
    I am also sure it was the ABSOLUTE CHEAPEST guitar in the music store (that's how we roll on first buys) so It may not have been indicative of all Harmony guitars. They probably made one, bottom of the line laminated cheapie, maybe to fill a price point.

    ...and by the way NickR, I am constantly picking up crumbs of knowledge from you (and several others). I appreciate you, YOU ROCK. Do you know if the 1960's Harmony Sovereigns were solid, I sold a half a dozen of them in my shop and never checked, but I liked them.
    Last edited by your_diamond; Nov-23-2022 at 8:33am.

  25. #17

    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    This is the 1940 Harmony catalogue page showing low end archtops. It was posted by the late Francois Demont on the Harmony Guys site to a thread I had started back in 2015. The Ridgeway was one or possibly the least expensive Harmony archtop at the time and was also sold branded as a Supertone and sold for quite a bit less as a mail order purchase. These guitars were all made of solid birch with various finishes- some faux and it states "to resemble curly maple" under one! It might be possible that during WW2 Harmony had to use laminates for a while but I don't know on that- but I do have a 1943 Ridgeway and it is solid birch and the top has a nice crack in it but the guitar sounds surprisingly good! Anyway, the guitar you had bit the dust long ago- so cannot be identified now but these guitars in the catalogue are branded Harmony!

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    Registered User mandotool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Lots of good info about Shutt mandolins here...
    https://www.harpguitars.net/history/...on-members.htm
    Thomas Quinn

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Quote Originally Posted by your_diamond View Post
    ...and by the way NickR, I am constantly picking up crumbs of knowledge from you (and several others). I appreciate you, YOU ROCK. Do you know if the 1960's Harmony Sovereigns were solid, I sold a half a dozen of them in my shop and never checked, but I liked them.
    Definitely
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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  31. #20

    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    With Harmony Sovereigns- and there were a few models, it seems that towards the end by the early 70s, laminates were used for the bodies and sides and various new models brought out just before the firm closed down definitely were- this has been discussed in the past on the Harmony site but I cannot recall the exact details. The Regal version of the jumbo Sovereign may have a laminated back- I have one but I have not checked if it is- but the top is solid. I understand that when Harmony's assets were auctioned off, a load of good wood was purchased by various guitar makers which suggests that Harmony had a treasure trove of decent wood but started to make economies to try and compete with Far Eastern imports and turned more and more to laminates. It seems that intonation was not always Harmony's strong point and the bridges might not be exactly in the right spot! My luthier said he made a new fingerboard for Denny Laine's Sovereign due to its frets being somewhat mis-positioned.

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  33. #21
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    I have 3 1920s Gretsch banjos- a tenor, a mandolin banjo, and a 6 string guitar banjo, and all three have the exact same inlay in the headstock as what this instrument has. Here’s the inlay on the ebay instrument:
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    And here’s the inlay on my Gretsch guitjo:
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    Could this not be some kind of Gretsch mandolin?

    Pete

  34. #22
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    I had a Harmony Shutt just like the one posted. Same inlay on headstock. It was a nice sounding mandolin. Mine was nit original as someone put a black top on it. And added a pickup.

    Im sure there were different makers following the same style.

  35. #23

    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    You see that inlay on the Harmony made and most likely Supertone branded instruments but it may have been more commonly used. This illustration does not show smaller detailers but the Supertone Viol is featured.

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  36. #24
    FIDDLES with STRADOLINS your_diamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    Quite a few days to go, though, Mike. Jake's description sounds tempting, but his workload is so large right now, I don't think he'd be super excited to see this arriving on his doorstep.
    Quote Originally Posted by your_diamond View Post
    Oh come on Sue, get your sled dogs out and mush on over to Jake's with it.
    I should mention, I meant no disrespect. I know you don't have sled dogs (or do you) and you don't go mushing (or do you)? I'm proud of anybody who can survive a Vermont winter! Floridians are big chickens when it comes to the cold. I could see my obituary, "Florida Man found frozen to sidewalk in spring thaw". Scary.

    Plus I think Jake lives to revive these old gems. If he don't do it who will?

  37. #25
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Know what this is? It keeps staring at me!

    I knew you were kidding, Mike. I'm not a giant fan of winter anymore, but the heat and humidity in Florida! My DH and I went to St. Augustine a few years back in November, and it was too hot to sit on the beach. And we went to Clearwater one time in August, and everytime you stepped out the door, it was like walking into a wall of humidity
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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