Harmony H164 acoustic guitar repair - Projects - Audio Artillery

Harmony H164 acoustic guitar repair

  1. Intro
  2. Pickguard
  3. Neck removal
  4. Fretboard hole filling
  5. Top repair
  6. Neck reset confusion
  7. Hacking the neck angle
  8. Bits and pieces

1: Intro

This is a 70's Harmony H164 acoustic guitar. It's similar to the common H162 model except it's black and has a "Sovereign" brand name. It's in need of a neck reset, refret, and some cosmetic work.


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You can see there the action is absolutely terrible.


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Someone decided it would look better without the pickguard.


 

2: Pickguard


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There was a lot of residual glue from where the pickguard was. Most of it came off easily. Towards the pointier end of the guard there was some tougher glue (probably someone tried to superglue it down) that took some finish off with it. So it will need a new pickguard to hide that.


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Since the glue discolored the finish just slightly I can use that as a guide for the pickguard shape. Little pieces of tape give me raised surface so I can trace the guard shape.


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There's the new pickguard in place on the guitar. It turned out decent.


 

3: Neck removal

Time to yank off the neck. This is the usual remove 15th fret, drill a hole for the steam needle, and steam the neck off step. But first the fingerboard extension needs to be separated from the body. I use an iron and a spatula.


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Once that was separated I pumped steam into the neck thru the 15th fret hole and then went about removing the neck. I had a really hard time getting this neck off after several bouts with steaming and drilling different holes I just couldn't press the neck off. I decided to get my rubber hammer and start wacking on the heel. Don't do this. I got lucky and just lost a tiny part of the dovetail.


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Here's why:


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I missed the neck pocket with my drill. Looking at the gap when the neck is inserted, I'm not sure I'd ever be able to tell when I'd hit the pocket. I'm lucky it didn't turn out worse. But there is one more problem.


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The heel cap was in pretty bad shape to begin with but beating on it with a hammer didn't do it any favors. This will have to be replaced.


 

4: Fretboard hole filling

Since I had trouble finding the neck pocket under the 15th fret I ended up drilling several holes and at funny angles. You can see that a little bit in the picture where I'm prying up the fingerboard, but I really went at it after that. It looked like I gouged it up with a screwdriver to be honest. Somehow forgot to take a picture, but trust me it was bad.


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I saved some rosewood dust/shavings from a previous fretboard planing. Here I've taped up the holes from underneath and crammed some of this dust in. After that I soaked the dust with superglue and let it dry. Then I filled it with glue again so it would be flush with the board. After re-cutting the slot and planing the fretboard it looks like new.


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I'm not sure the wood dust was really necessary but it did help keep the glue from seeping out the bottom while it was drying.


 

5: Top repair


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I wasn't exactly gentle when I pried up that fingerboard extension. It split the top a little bit. There appears to be a lot of pressure on the top from the sides. My theory is the sides have been shrinking faster than the top, which caused a little buckling when I caused this to split. You can't really tell that from the picture, but if you look at the inlay you'll see it's sliding over itself a bit.


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Luckily with enough clamps you can fix anything. I used regular wood glue here because it doesn't need to come apart ever again. Here's another example of this side/top pressure:


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That's the bass lower bout. I'm not sure this is easily fixable. It's totally stable so I'm not going to mess with it.


 
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