On the heels of Gene Autry’s 1940 western-musical classic Melody Ranch, Chicago-based Harmony Guitars manufactured a run of “Melody Ranch Gene Autry” model guitars, sold exclusively through the Sears catalog for $6.85. At the time, Gene Autry was the ultimate Cowboy songster, and he was a hero to children all across the country.
Although these parlor-sized guitars—with their classic Western stenciling on the top—may have felt like a guitar Gene would play, they were never built to be functional instruments that would ever tune and play properly. Over the years, these highly collectible guitars became wall-hangers at best, even though they were actually constructed of quality Spruce and Maple.
Fortunately, Scott Baxendale and his team of luthiers in Athens, Ga., recognize the potential of these cowboy-inspired guitars and regularly remanufacture them. In doing so, they totally, re-build, re-brace, and re-voice these instruments, giving them new life and world class tone with no shortage of authentic mojo. These inspiring instruments are an exceptional value, and they're an incredible way to recycle and repurpose old axes.
This Baxendale ‘40s Harmony Melody Ranch has been totally rebuilt and re-braced to a scalloped X-braced pattern, which maximizes the sonic potential of this old cowboy box. Interestingly, this one has gorgeous Birdseye Maple on the back and sides. While Birdseye is now a high end up-charge, the guitar industry didn't think much of it at the time, so it's incredible—but not surprising—to see it used on a budget-priced beginner guitar.
This Baxendale Conversion sports new frets, a new 1-3/4" bone nut, a new solid rosewood bridge with bone saddle, and Golden Age Restoration tuning machines. Its lightweight, parlor-guitar feel is comfortable and inviting, and it plays like a brand new guitar. Impressive projection for such a small body, nice balance across the register, and quick, accurate response. Its short 24-1/4" scale and 12-fret parlor guitar design provide authentic small-body tone and comfort. The result is an inspiring cowboy guitar with the tone, intonation, and playability of a fine acoustic guitar.
Every Baxendale Conversion includes a lifetime warranty. Although it started as an old guitar, this Baxendale Conversion has been made new, so think of it as a "new" old guitar. It includes a period chipboard case that is cool but isn't a great fit. We'll also include a Guardian 500-Series Duraguard bag.