Cataloging my experiences and encounters repairing and restoring guitars new and old

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I picked up this instrument for a small price due to its condition but it looks to be an instrument that is worth restoring. This guitar i...

1936 Harmony-Built Custom Kraft "18" Archtop Guitar

I picked up this instrument for a small price due to its condition but it looks to be an instrument that is worth restoring. This guitar is valuable to me for two reasons, one the history it holds and two for the  age and condition that the intact pieces are in.

Image from Vintaxe
This guitar appears to be a Harmony H-1390 Marquise [sic] model which the Demont Harmony database says were made from 1937 to 1940. Mine has "S 36" stamped in red ink on the back which definitively places it as a 1936 model.

Large, full toned, beautiful in appearance. High arched spruce top, inlaid with cut colored wood-block marquetry. Heavy celluloid bindings. Ovalled bound fingerboard. Tortoise celluloid guardplate. Adjustable bridge. Compensating tailpiece. Rich maple-grained mahogany shaded finish, highly polished.
No. 1390: $25.50

The history of the brand is fascinating too as Custom Kraft was one of the names used by St Louis Music and I've often seen the claim that the brand was only in use during the 1960s. I own a Kay-built archtop labelled Custom Kraft that I believe to be from the 1940s or 50s and I've seen similar claims on Reverb listings. There is also the possibility that the brand name changed hands but I've seen nothing yet to support that.

Breakdown of the binding by approximate size.
The total width of the binding is 9/32nds 


Besides the sorry state that this guitar was left in, it was very lightly played during its lifetime. The fretboard has very minor divots and the frets are rusty but not worn. The guitar unfortunately was not stored with care and so the back is completely detached from the instrument, the tail end is missing nearly all of its ornate binding, and it has a pretty nasty chunk taken out of the top

My conclusion is that Custom Kraft instruments were built by Kay at least in the 1950s until the brands dissolution in 1968 but before then they were also built by Harmony. Both Chicago manufacturers but of course very different guitars.




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Be excellent to each other dudes