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  1. #1
    BluesTalker
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    Default New Funky Old Guitar Day

    Guess I got bit by the Stratotone bug, but couldn't pay the full ticket.
    This one was a great deal with original cheapo alligator case.
    rex.jpg
    neck.jpg
    guts.jpg
    It's a '55 Rex. Distributed by Gretsch, probably made by Kay.
    Neck-through construction (!!) and by FAR the fattest neck I've ever held.
    Considerably beefier than my '36 Dolian!
    It has a surprising array of tones for a 1 pickup guitar.
    I'm not one to automatically relegate weird old guitars to slide-only status, but this one has a slide sound to DIE FOR...so, we'll see.
    My touch isn't light enough to play slide with the same action and string gauge as normal playing, so I may have a mission to learn so I can use this guitar for both.
    And then...there's this very similar guitar...
    ElmoreJames.jpg
    Really looking forward to Saturday's gig.
    I still haven't plugged it into the tweed Bassman!

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to charlie chitlins For This Useful Post:

    JLHooker (09-30-2017)

  3. #2
    BluesLover
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    Default

    Congratulations, Charlie! That's a true vintage beauty and the sound you describe...what a prize! The action being so good... if there's no truss rod that's good fortune... yeah, it's a challenge playing slide...but what a good quality problem. My '36 Duolian has that beautiful low action the full length of the neck, too, and my touch with the slide has kinda adjusted itself as I practiced. Not too hard an adjustment really. All my slide tunes include fretting, so the low action turns out to be a bonus.

    BTW, your Rex' young cousin is in my collection. A real player like yours. These axes have good genes...very handsome players:

    http://harmony.demont.net/images/0/H...Jupiter_12.jpg

    Cheers,

    Doug

  4. #3
    BluesTalker
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    Default

    Sweet Harmony!
    I've had several and they can be very cool.
    This Rex is a whole new ballgame...the neck-through really makes it sing compared to a bolt-on.
    I pulled it out before a gig and the guys in the band were interested in its looks, but when I plugged it in and played a little, everybody's head turned.
    Holy!!!! That thing sounds GREAT!
    And the drum, keys and sax don't generally pay a lot of attention to guitar tones.
    I stuck with this one the whole gig and re-tuned for slide instead of changing guitars.
    My '65 Firebird III and Supro Dual-Tone stayed on the stand.
    Is it possible that this weird little guitar is now my #1?
    Yup.
    AND!!!!...the pickup is crazy powerful.
    It hits the front end of the amp very hard and I get some great grit at low volume.
    Serious fun!
    Gotta pay attention, though...it is NOT easy to play.
    I don't think this guitar NEEDS to be original, so I'm considering a refret with some bigger wire.

  5. #4
    BluesLover
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    Charlie, it's inspiring to hear your joy and success with this old Harmony...especially as you're an experienced pro.

    Seems to me that vintage preservation is not messed up by playability repairs like re-fretting or neck adjustment. My 36 Duolian, George Gruhn straightened the neck in 1979; he recommended removing the fretboard, installing a non-adjustable truss rod, and maintaining his work order & receipt to preserve the vintage value.

    Similarly with my 62 Epi Casino...Lindy Fralin re-wound one of the P 90s and I keep the papers in the case. My best understanding is that changes like these will not affect the vintage value...and I don't mean just the dollar value but also the integrity of the instrument.

  6. #5
    BluesTalker
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    I did the refret.
    Total nightmare.
    I'm not sure what Kind of wood the fretboard it, but it's unlike any other wood I've worked with.
    I had to prebend the frets to a much smaller radius than usual and glue them in.
    Still, it came out super uneven and took me hours of dressing.
    Really weird.
    Anyway...it's a killer player now. Bends are much easier with a little more fret and, for me with a 25.5" scale, that's super important...for that extra little distance you have to push the string compared to my accustomed shorter "Gibson" scale.
    I kept the original frets on my '36 Duolian (so cool that we both have one!), and Marc Schoenberg heated/steamed the neck straight.
    I'm wondering If I shouldn't have gotten a truss rod because he said it's one of the really rare ones that he couldn't get all the bow out of.
    It's still very playable, though.
    You wouldn't BELIEVE how many "top" luthiers suggested really invasive stuff!
    Planing the fretboard flat (there was a lot of bow and a LOT of material would have had to come off...it would have gone right through some of the dot markers), replacing the fretboard...several suggested replacing the whole NECK because the "good" part of these guitars is the body.
    That was so foreign to my ears.
    Try telling that to someone with a vintage Les Paul or even Strat!
    Anyway...
    Looking forward to gigging the old girl this weekend!
    This pickup is so strange...I thought it would be very hot because it hit's the amp so hard...it reads about 5.8ohms iirc...less than 6.
    But there's a lot more to it than DC resistance.
    Some real interesting numbers on this guitar....
    .01mf tone cap, 85k pots, 1 13/16" wide at the nut...
    Even the 25.5" scale surprised me because it looks so small.
    It all adds up to a tone monster.
    This into the '58 Bassman with tube reverb unit is heavenly!

  7. #6
    BluesLover
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    Default Sacred Trust. And humidity.

    Yer so diligent and careful, Charlie.

    Glad you've got both the Duolian and the '55 Rex where ya like 'em. That Rex is simply beautiful. We're their stewards as they pass to the next generation. You feel that responsibility. That reverence. I know, brother.

    BTW, my daughter Tanya just sent me two Case Humidifiers by Oasis. One goes to my Harmony Stratotone Jupiter; the other to my "69 Guild F-50". What's your take on humidifying yer older guitars?

    Cheers,

    Doug

  8. #7
    BluesTalker
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    Default

    My take is, and always has been....for better or worse...ignore it and hope for the best.
    Probably not the best plan, but it's served me well with stuff like letters from the Bureau of Taxation and Finance and my doctor
    I don't live with any kind of climate extremes, though...mid-atlantic states...
    It gets damp and swampy here in the summer, though, and dry in the winter; especially when we heat with wood...I just try to find a spot in the house that doesn't get too hot, cold, damp or dry.
    I'm a bit of a slacker with my gear.
    Maybe I shouldn't even admit, I've never even written down my serial #s.
    Maybe if I had some old Martins or a '50s J45, I'd feel differently.

  9. #8
    BluesTalker
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    Funny that you've also got an F50.
    My main acoustic was a Guild for many years...I think it was the smaller version of the F50...same general J200-like "jumbo" shape, maple back and sides...but a bit smaller...I've forgotten the model designation.
    I sold it to get something I couldn't live without at the time
    BTW...The REX continues to deliver the groceries.
    I had to make a new nut for it.
    At the last gig, the other guitar players in the audience were all over it!
    I played the whole gig with it.
    A former band member was in the house and he knows all my stuff.
    He had a copy of the set list and he said he was saying to himself, "He's definitely going to have to change guitars for THIS one."
    He was shocked at how the guitar could be made to work for the whole night.
    Next project...install a ground wire to reduce the copious amounts of hum.
    I'm going to take the tailpiece off and drill through to the control cavity to do it invisibly.

  10. #9
    BluesTalker
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    Default

    brownoriginal.jpg

    Just found this very early pic of James Brown at the drums.
    I think I see the same guitar!

 

 

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