Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Talk about modding or building your own guitar from scratch.
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Kramertron 2000
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Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by Kramertron 2000 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:03 pm

I should just stay at home.
Just picked up this Harlem mosrite style guitar for $150Au. Clearly a beater/mod platform
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Anyone know anything about them? Its got a set neck/neck-thru, ancient strings and horrible les paul tulip style tuners and a jazzmaster bridge and trem. It was cheap, so Im ok with possibly wasting some money on it.

The other question is what should I do with it? I havnt played it plugged in yet, so cant comment on the sound, but looks like itll be a cool mod platform. Throw your suggestions at me

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by tribi9 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:09 pm

Pretty cool. Id just set it up and play it. Maybe a Staytrem if needed, would be the only mod id do.
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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by antisymmetric » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:21 pm

I'd try it out properly before doing anything- from the one pic it looks pretty good- the overall appearance, the neck joint and the way the fret ends finish out over the binding makes me think someone was making an effort. Some more pics would be cool if you can swing it...
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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by Ohioisonfire » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:24 pm

That looks sweet, I’d be all over It for that price.

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by tribi9 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:26 pm

Oh wait, nevermind. I had a better look at the original bridge. So, yeah.... No mods.

I didn't even look. I just assumed it was a Jazzmaster bridge ;D :blush: :fp:
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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by Kramertron 2000 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:32 pm

Yea I couldnt resist. Ill take some more pictures when I get home, but the bridge is the same as a jag/jazz with the threads. It looks pretty cool and apart from the action being a touch high the setup isnt terrible. Cant wait to see how it really sounds with some new strings and through my new Vox Night train 15. I cant see me playing it more than my TVL jazzmaster or VM jaguar, but its just another cool beater to go Kurt Cobain/sonic youth on.

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by tribi9 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:54 pm

Oh it is? the fuck.. My eyes are playing tricks on me.
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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by Kramertron 2000 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:27 pm

Its not a very good picture - it was taken on my phone through the FB messenger app then downloaded from there lol.

More pictures to come when I get it home and get some proper strings on there.

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by Kramertron 2000 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:04 am

So, I spent about an hour or 2 cleaning it and putting a set of EB Not even slinky strings on it (12-56's). Boy was it disgusting - I live in North Queensland, so its a tropical climate, and guitars get sweaty quickly (not to mention having to adjust the setup every couple of months due to the changes in humidity), but this thing looked and felt as if it had never been cleaned. Ever. The fretboard was caked in gunk and the whole guitar felt sticky and gross. Some spray and wipe cleaner and some o'cedar furniture polish took care of that, but I had to go over the fretboard twice with the oil to get as much of the finger gunk off as I could.
Next thing I noticed when putting the strings on, is the bridge is clearly wonky. The screws in the saddle should have enough range for it to be intonated properly, but its very strange. I couldnt be bothered taking all the saddles off to clean them and under them, so they can just stay as they are for now - greasy. It cleaned up quite nicely however, after a bit of elbow grease, and the white finish (probably not evident in the pictures) has yellowed quite nicely, but the binding on the neck has become fairly opaque.
Here are some pictures after it was cleaned up.
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Ignore the cat toys on the floor lol

The tuners arent terrible, but one is very hard to turn and they are a little wobbly with no strings on. The trem arm doesnt stay in at all, so that sucks a little, but otherwise there isnt much wrong with it. The neck relief will need to be adjusted since the new strings have gone on as the action around the 12th fret is now a bit high. The frets are a bit worn down, but nice and even with no sharp edges.

Now the most important bit - the sound...
Its great! The humbucker is reasonably high output and drives my night train nicely, and the P90 is punchy as ever. Its fairly dark sounding, but thats a nice change from my other offsets, which are all quite bright. The only problems are that the switch is absolute crap and I think it must have some grounding issues because its buzzy even on the humbucker and middle position, and the P90 is much louder than the humbucker for some reason. Playability is good, but the switch is in a spot where I managed to hit it several times in the half-hour or so I was playing it, so when I replace it ill probably turn it sideways, and the balance is a little funny (nowhere near as bad as the SG I had once, which used to neck dive and flop forward if I let go). On the balance thing, I have no idea what its made from, but its very light. I doubt its plywood or anything, because I think its a neck-thru, so the neck would also have to be made of plywood if that were the case.

Super pleased with my impulse buy though, and really only a few things will need modding as far as I can tell. Itll be interesting to see what it looks like behind the pickguard. I can see myself playing this more than my Squire standard series Jagmaster (my only other humbucker equipped guitar) because I think it sounds as good, if not better. I may even steal the Duncan Distortion out of the bridge of that guitar to put into this one.

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by Ohioisonfire » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:23 am

Looks really good cleaned up, even better that it sounds good..

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by Kramertron 2000 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:31 am

Update time!

After playing it fairly exclusively for a week now Iv noticed a few things. Firstly, the neck needed more adjustment - a LOT more - like 2 full turns of the truss rod! Its still not quite there, but I think its about as good as Ill get it myself, and its pretty much buzz free and the action isnt too high (but its noticeably harder to play than my TVL jazz), however the last fret on the high e string always frets out no matter how I set it. The other day I was playing it and it sounded fine with a distortion pedal, but when I switched the pedal off it sounded all muffled and weird - the input jack had unscrewed itself, and when I pulled it out to look at the soldering and bend the contact in a bit a bunch of sawdust and globs of solder fell out all over my bed, but the solders were fine.
The second bit of weirdness I noticed was the pickup mounting ring for the HB has three different types of screw. Something that became kind of funny when I took it off to check it out. The screws are three different lengths, sizes and threads! Also its apparent it was originally two P90s and a previous owner hacked at it with a file to fit the HB. One of the screws doesnt even go into the wood. Speaking of wood, it looks like it might be made of mahogany going by the appearance where its filed back, but its hard to tell. Fortunately, I work at a warehouse that distributes nuts, bolts and fasteners and sells to the public, so I can get some that are all the same, as well as some Cyberbond threadlocker to stop the bridge rattling for next to nothing.
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Notice how ludicrously long those two screws are! They are all mounted crooked too, so when I replace the pickup Ill fill the holes, tidy the routing up with a dremel and re-drill with a drill press.

The trem arm not staying in was fixed by wrapping a piece of magic tape (the clear stuff) around the trem arm and slowly pushing it in. Now it stays in, but can still rotate freely, and actually takes a lot of effort to pull it back out.

I took the pickguard off to have a look at the wiring and it looks alright, but clearly done by an amateur. The switch is blackened where the humbucker was installed (no idea what sort of HB it is, but it does have 4 wires) and the ground wire from the HB is way too long, and was touching the metal parts of the switch. Also the wires from the HB are ridiculously thin, and one wasnt soldered on very well. I fixed the soldering and wrapped the wires together with some gaffer tape to tidy it all up and stop the ground from touching anything. It looks as if the previous owner tried to shield it with aluminium foil, and the cavity is painted black, but not very well. I also turned the switch sideways while I had the guard off so I dont keep hitting it all the time.
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That capacitor is marked 0.068 and is quite small, and the pots are small alpha's, which I forgot to check the value on.

Now to mods:
-Its going to need a new switch and jack, and while Im at it ill probably put some good 500k pots in.
-Its going to need the pickup mount and cavity for the HB tidied up and the holes re-drilled and matching screws to go in there.
-New tuners. The ones in there are ok, but feel like they will break sooner or later, one is really tight and all of them as soon as you relieve any tension turn way too easily, making it hard to tune. Once they are at pitch they hold the tuning fine though.
-There is a Seymour Duncan vintage P90 on a FB page going fairly cheap that I might get if its still there next week when I get paid.
The big decision is what HB should I put in it... Im into grunge and noise rock type stuff as well as industrial and electronic music, so Id want something that can do cleans, but can also do anything up to metal type distortion without sounding like mud. Im also probably going to put a push pull pot in for coil-splitting. Im intrigued by the BKP Warpig and SD Pegasus at the moment, but Im wondering what others could suggest - the original univox phase IV pickups would be cool, but are about as common as unicorn farts, so something in the style (high output with a sound of their own) would be ideal, but it has to get along with the P90. I have a Duncan distortion in my Jagmaster, but I think I want something a little different and maybe a little more modern sounding.

Iv also considered refinishing it in the future, but the German carve and painted through-neck will make that a bit of a challenge to do a good job. Really this guitar was super cheap, and sounds and plays alright, but is still nothing on my Squiers and Fender, so I dont want to go too overboard and spend more on it than its worth, and ultimately it is going to be the beater guitar I use when there is the possibility of it getting knocked around.

Anyway any suggestions or info would be appreciated.

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by kimson » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:50 am

Interesting find & a cool guitar. Unfortunately I don't know anything about the brand either, but here are some thoughts anyway.

The bridge HB seems to be some sort of SD Quarter Pound copy by Artec: https://reverb.com/uk/item/3921940-arte ... pickup-set

The soldering looks like it was done with a blowtorch so I guess it would be a good idea to replace the pots & switch.

The pots & switch may well have already been replaced once so unless someone has some solid info about the brand, probably the only things that might shed some light on its origins are the P90 and the tuners. Did you check them for any markings?

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by MayTheFuzzBeWithYou » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:09 am

Hey Kramertron!

What a nice looking guitar!
I would keep it that way! Love the black pickguard on the white. A refin could also be difficult because of the body and neck binding...
what color would come to your mind?

I just got my Eastwood Sidejack Deluxe back from my technician... I got it (not so... but still quite) cheap last year - and it terribly needed some fret-work and a neck set up. It was a challenging guitar when I bought it - now it plays like a dream!
It also has two P-90s in it (love how the end of the neck and the pickup look together), sunburst finish on top but all black on the back.
First I found the headstock really ugly - but no I can't unsee the top shape of a Batman logo! :)

For me it's my back up/rehearsal room guitar as it is my only other guitar at the moment with a vibrato system besides my Jag.

It's a quite rare, outstanding shape - so you'll defenitely get a lot of looks when playing it!
A lot of people surely find it ugly... but I think it has got character! But for me it's way more a guitar for Garage-, Punk- and Surf-Rock than for Grunge... :)
Have fun with your Harlem!

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by Kramertron 2000 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:50 am

Thanks for the replies :)
Awesome that you were able to find the pickup - that definitely looks like the one. Its definitely hot; it drives my night train head no matter what the gain is set to. The only issue I have with it is it gets a little muddy and doesnt clean up all that nicely with the volume pot.
You're right about the soldering too, it looks horrible. The main issue with the switch is it feels really flimsy, but otherwise it works ok. Id say the pots have been replaced at some point too because they are much smaller than anything Iv seen on a guitar before.

As for markings, the tuner doesnt have any I can see, and I didnt take the P90 out to check.
Its definitely a cool looking thing, and I was instamtly drawn to it when I saw it, mainly because Kurt Cobain and Lee Renaldo have used Hi flyers, hence the grunge/noise connection. The music scene around here is pretty much only DJs and metal aside from the usual pub rockers playing tired classic rock covers, so you dont really see any offsets around let alone something like this. The local music store (there is only one left in my town) only had 1 or maybe 2 offsets in store last time I was there and one of them (a cream coloured squier duo-sonic) has been there for at least 2 years.
You're right about refinishing - if I was to do it it will be a long way off, because itll be quite difficult. I kind of have a thing for silver, so Id probably want to do it in some shade of silver (also difficult to do properly from what I understand).
Cheap guitars are super fun - Id never dream of doing much other than easily reversible mods to my TVL jazzmaster or even my VM jag, and I baby them a bit so I dont do too much damage. Cheap guitars on the other hand are prime for personalisation and not such a big loss if they get damaged or ruined, and usually with a bit of work they can be set up to play just as well as a mid-range or better one. This one would probably benefit from a professional set-up to get it perfect, but at least the frets all seem to be pretty good. The crooked bridge is really strange though.
Your eastwood sounds cool too - I love sunburst finishes. Its funny you say the headstock reminds you of the batman signal - it reminds me more of Bart Simpson's hair ;D

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Re: Harlem mosrite style guitar - anyone know about them?

Post by MayTheFuzzBeWithYou » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:08 am

Okay! Your's does indeed look more like Bart Simpson...didn't notice that before (on my mobile's screen).

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on the Eastwood the edges are a bit more rounded... therefore the Bat-Wings...

for those who still don't see it some quick photoshop doodling with the laptop's mouse-pad... so don't expect anything spectacular.
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I totally agree with cheap guitars being great fun a great platform to mod the shit out of them! I sadly gave away a Danelectro Dead on 67 Baritone a few years ago - still want the same guitar in the standard version... maybe in Cobalt Blue instead of Green... but today I would upgrade the electronics and turn it into a sound-beast!

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