Anyway- didn’t get murdered. I did however pick up a great old guitar with a few issues. Chiefly among them- the electronics made a horrible noise when plugged in, and the neck was pitched so far forward it was impossible to play.
Step one: rip off the strings, and start some general cleaning. I generally only ever use warm water and a soft rag. When it comes to old guitars, removing dirt and sweat grime is absolutely necessary, as it can break down the wood. What you don’t want to do is use any harsh chemicals that can Johnny Marr the surface, and take away that amazing, aged patina.
Cleaning the neck is a delicate matter- as it collects the most sweat and grime. Solution is spit. Saliva actually the safest and most effective way to clean a fretboard. Cheapest cleaner in town. Once cleaned and dried, I rubbed in a thin coat of fretboard oil.
To fix the neck pitch, I unscrewed it to install a shim. A shim can be anything- credit card, pick, etc. In fact, the Fender guitar factory used to shim most of it’s guitar necks with guitar picks. I like to use a tone wood (in this case, basswood).
Simply drop the shim into the neck pocket like so, and screw the neck back on. This should pitch the neck angle backward, bringing the strings closer to the neck. Good way to test this is to quickly string up one string to see how it plays.
Harmony guitars were cheaply mass produced, with all of the electronics wired to the pickguard. When I tested the wiring away from the body, everything looked and sounded the way it should. Contact cleaner cleared up all crackles and noises.
When I placed the pickguard back on and plugged it in however, I got the same horrible noises. Upon further inspection, it looked as if the input cable was hitting the inside of the body cavity (impact scar pictured), effectively dispersing the current into the wood. Solution- I made the hole bigger, allowing for the cable to input without hitting the wood. It Johnny Marred up the inside surface a bit, but no one sees the inside anyway.
Here it is now, sounds great and plays easy. Before you would have sworn it was one of Jandek’s guitars (perhaps it was). Now it’s ready for the house, if I may make another obscure reference.
Up for auction on Ebay this week!! Click here