A Harmony 1950-60(no serial number I could find) TG1201 Sovereign model tenor guitar was passed on to me, likely because I started playing guitar and I am a better woodworker than I am a player. The guitar is in rough shape, but for the most part just cosmetically with the exception of the bridge and a missing screw from the tuning machines. I will chronicle my restoration with the hope that people provide me suggestions on how to proceed as my skills up until this past month have been with finish carpentry and furniture repair/renovation/building.
I have provided a photo montage of the raw guitar and the stripped cleaned guitar. The guitar suffered from the following:
- Surface mold on the outside and body interior
- The guitar was strung with nylon strings, which is perhaps why the neck has a slight concave bow
- A screw (gear retention) is missing from one of the tuning machines
- The bridge is shattered
- The pickguard is unattached and has a slight bow
- There appears to be a crack (3") on the right lower lobe of the belly
- The finish is crackled
- A surface wear spot is located just below the 20th fret
- Some upper frets need a polish and or re-cut
I could not find a screw to fit the tuning machines, so I ordered Grover Ukulele long machine tuners which, according to my measurements, should fit perfectly without any modification. I will try disassembling the Grover tuner gear/post and see if I can get it to fit the Harmony stock dual tuning machines, as I would like to keep the guitar as original as possible. If anyone knows where I can acquire a screw to fit the original tuners, I would be most grateful!
Next, I carefully removed what remained of the bridge and scraped the remaining glue with a razor blade. I have ordered an ebony flattop guitar bridge blank and Martin bleached bone saddle blank. I have reassembled the bridge such that I can reproduce it by oversizing the exterior dimensions 1/16th an inch laterally and probably 30% vertically in the area of the retention bolts as I have come to understand that the TG1201 bridges are prone to breakage.
The neck has a slight concave bow which I have not measured as of yet. I do not have the skills to attempt to correct a minor bow in a guitar neck which does not have a truss rod. I will attempt polishing the frets, but will not attempt fret levelling/cutting unless the guitar does not function properly, or rather I can detect a problem as a neophyte guitarist. As I become more proficient as a player/luthier I will likely attempt fretwork if it is necessary and I am able.
My intentions are to limit the re-finishing to the spruce top at this time. I intend to take a minimalist approach by attempting to remove the finish with lacquer thinner possibly beefed up with some acetone. Alternatively, I have had good experiences using a soybean-based non-toxic/non-caustic stripper. After stripping, I intend to apply either a thinned (really thinned) brushed on lacquer or a spray on (Rattle can) lacquer. I will be working in a garage which is approximately 60 degrees F and I have appropriate respiratory protection (organic vapor mask).
I do not know how to repair the wear spot below the 20th fret; the wear is slight, but I am hesitant to attempt to sand it out/smooth. I just want to get the guitar playable and have enough of a finish coat on that I can safely attach/maintain the bridge and pickguard. If my initial efforts are successful enough, I will revisit refinishing the guitar in a year or two.
If I may, I would appreciate suggestions for the bridge/pickguard glue. I can acquire Titebond Hide glue locally and use it for both the bridge and the pickguard, if that is advisable. I believe I can get away with using Elmer's white glue for the bridge as it is bolted on but am unsure if it would be sufficient for the pickguard, even if it is just for a year or two.
Thank you all in advance for following along, and I will post again after I receive the repair materials next week.