Sunday, January 6, 2013

Nashville Tuning and The Harmony Stella H929

I won this Harmony Stella H929 by accident from the Goodwill Auction site last July. I had put in a low bid because I really didn't want or need another guitar. Still, $55 (including shipping) latter, it ended up on my doorstep.
Bad Nut
S 64
When I got it, I noticed that the nut was bad and the low E string wouldn't stay in place. Other than that, there wasn't much that seemed unusual or troublesome with the guitar. It has some fret wear, and was dirty but not excessively so. No major cracks, the neck (though as thick as a baseball bat) was solid, and all parts were present. The tuning machines are stiff but useable. Even with the old strings that were on it, it didn't sound bad.
New Nut
I have a good Arts and Lutherie parlor guitar, and a Taylor Mini, so though this Stella wasn't in bad shape, I didn't know what to do with it. I just let it sit in the garage for a few months, thinking that I'd need to replace the nut at some point and tune it up. Then, while thumbing through an old Guitar Player magazine, I stumbled on an article on Nashville tuning. In Nashville tuning, the guitar is tuned using the high ocatve strings that would be on a 12 string guitar. I had an old set of strings, and thought this guitar would be perfect for Nashville tuning. The big neck meant that I was mostly going to use this for strumming, so having it tuned differently than my other guitars made sense.

eBay provided a new nut for a few bucks, which I installed using Elmer's Wood Glue after easily popping the old one off. I used some furniture wipes to clean and polish the exterior and a shop vac to collect the dust bunnies on the interior. It polished up pretty good, much better than what is showing in the pictures. I had some strings that I bought a few years back and pulled them out for tuning. 
The guitar now has an interesting, jangly 12 string sound without having 12 strings. I find it difficult to play scales on it, because the notes on the B and high E are lower than the G, but it sounds great strumming big, cowboy chords. 

I wouldn't do all my playing with a guitar tuned this way, but it does make a nice change of pace. It's a great use for this inexpensive guitar.

If you're looking for information on Harmony guitars, please visit The Harmony Database. They have tons of info and pictures of these old guitars.


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