This is a 1967 Harmony-made H1218 solid birch archtop guitar, branded Barclay for the United Buying Service mail order company. It has a faux tiger-flame and painted-on “binding,” and has had a neck angle set and crack repairs, so it plays like a dream.
- Upper bout: 11 1/2 inches
- Waist: 9 3/4 inches
- Lower bout: 15 3/4 inches
- Body length: 19 3/4 inches
- Scale length: 25 inches
- Action: A hair over 3/32 inch at the 12th fret
When I received this archtop, it was in a bad way. The neck was coming loose at the heel, and it had been exposed to water on the end pin side, which had softened and damaged some wood and caused a few cracks in the back at the tail block. The back was also half-detached. When I tried to push the cracks closed, the pressure just went to the top of the arch. So, I filled the cracks with maple splints. Once the glue dried, I shaved them flush with a sharp chisel, and then touched up the finish to make them less noticeable. (The sunburst pattern on the bottom of the back is not quite the same as the rest, but it doesn’t stand out, which was the goal.) In order to properly repair the back, I removed it all the way, so I was able to cleat the cracks after splinting them from the inside.
I then tightened the neck by running two screws in from the neck block into the heel. When I replaced the back, I “slipped the block,” putting the neck under tension to hold it at the proper angle while gluing the neck block up, This is a less-labor intensive alternative to a neck reset that works well on older, less valuable guitars. The neck angle is perfectly set now, and I was able to raise the original bridge up, which means you’ll have the option of lowering the action further if you want.
I also chiseled out and replaced a few areas of wood under the tailpiece legs which had been damaged when wet. The tailpiece had pulled itself right into the sides. I added maple to replaced the damaged wood, and then touched everything up to hide the repair. Since the back had been off, the “painted binding” on the back was pretty rough, as was the white strip above the end pin. I repainted the binding to cover up some of these issues. It’s not intended to be a perfect repair, but to look good from the stage (or a few feet away).
Lastly, I scraped some hard gunk off the dyed fretboard, replaced the missing end pin, straightened and lubed the original tuners, and strung this up with D’Addario EJ16 light strings (12-53). It has a chunky neck and that all-birch archtop tone without the booming low end of a dreadnaught, just a sweet chordal voice.
This guitar is listed for sale on Reverb, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist.