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Hello. I acquired a project guitar that has suprisingly good tone and playability as-is, but still would like opinions regarding possible improvements. The Harmony Sovereign (see pix - will post better ones) appears to be late 40's early 50's, with laminated mahogany sides and back (despite reading numerous posts that the Sovereign was solid mahog) and a very interesting spruce top - hopefully you can see the grain and advise. It is lacquer finished with a nice gibson-like neck ( reset by previous owner and now has very good action even with lifting bridge), ladder braced, and is very loud, and resonant - notes ring on, with excellent highs though the point needing improvement is a somewhat weak hollow-ish bass. Sounds best played with thin pick

My questions, admittedly sophomoric, are -

Is there any bass benefit in enlarging the soundhole? (you will note that the sound hole is smallish at 3.5in).

I have not looked at the bridgeplate, but wondering if that could be changed to improve tone/bass?

and lastly since I do not think I am skilled enough to X rebrace this, are there any modifications that can be done to ladder bracing to tweak the tone? Thanks.

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Well I removed the already loose bridge to reveal a second set of peg holes (prom the original bridge as predicted in a previous post) with a lot of white space and a badly decomposed bridgeplate. the bridgeplate was totally void at the holes and not holding the ball ends.
It feels like it is spruce...will heat it up and pull it later.

Considering the bridge and bridgeplate were at least 50% disfunctional, perhaps the already decent tone will improve with the repair. I need to determine what material and dimensions to use for the new bridgeplate.
So you're going to revert to a fixed bridge?
Tim - I believe it always was a fixed bridge... Pulling off the bridge reveals two sets of bridgepin holes, either an "original" bridge as someone here suggested, or the bridge was moved either following the neck reset or for other reasons.

I need to remove and replace the original bridgeplate, and also patch the top under the bridge area. I guess i'll use maple for the bridgeplate though the existing one certainly is not maple...

I plan to reuse the bridge I removed.
I didn't have any doubts that original bridge was fixed ....I just think it's less stress on the top w/ the tailpiece setup and way cooler for the look of that style. I don't trust the internal bracing for the period but good luck !
IMHO, tailpieces on flat top guitars are a patch, not a fix. They don't get nearly as much down force on the bridge as an archtop instrument and don't seem, to me, to transfer as much of the strings energy to the face of a flat top as a pin bridge. I've also seen a few guitar that were fitted with tailpieces with depressed tops so I'm not so sure that the bracing is a good reason to go this route. There are lots of ladder braced guitars around that work just fine with extra light strings and a pin bridge.

Ned
Funny,I also thought there was more down pressure from a tailpiece
setup.and assumed that pins created more pull from the saddle/bridge forward! Hellllp!!!Feelin' like the brave who rode his horse bkwds in Little Big Man.I also suspect over tuning and neglect led to a lot of early
guitars placed in the wrong hands.
Tim,

With a pin bridge set up there isn't only "down/push" pressure but "up/pull" pressure that drives the table. The pin bidges "rocks" more than the tailpiece type one of the primary reasons that the "X" bracing works so well for flat tops while the long longitudial braces work well for arched tops.

Rob
The top appears to be pretty strong with no signs of distortion over the past 40 or so years. So Ithink the fixed bridge is th eway to go.

Has anyone ever successfully supplemented ladder bracing with additional bracing to any tonal or other benefit?
I've seen several cases where these guitars have been opened up and rebraced with a Martin Style X-bracing and people rave about them. Personally I'm looking for that old Ladder braced tone that screams the Blues. There are plenty of X-braced guitars in the world I like the variety that you get with these old ladder braces models...YMMV.

Cheers,

Blue
Fred,
I think you're back to where you were page one. My opinion, worth a grain of salt, is that you should consider what you really want. If you do not care much about the outcome for this guitar, then go for it and let us know what you learn BUT you should probably make sure you are willing to accept the possibility that things will not turn out as you hope.

If your intentions are to create your dream guitar, I would suggest you start looking at other guitars that fill your wants/ needs better than this one. As Blue pointed out some people really like these guitars just as they are.

Ned
I appreciate all of the feedback. The guitar has the potential to be a great player with decent tone - just another to add to the arsenal. I will only make repairs, not rebuild, but since I am going to install a new bridgeplate, I'd like to
make the best choice. If adding an extra brace or strut is advised, I would consider it.
...have most of the chewed up bridgeplate removed in pieces...looks like spruce glued in with unknown glue type. I have removed several bridgeplates from guilds, gibsons...this was by far the most difficult due to glue type and smaller soundhole.
No suggestions as to new bridgeplate material??? I guess i'll use a piece of masonite....

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