The Harmony conversion is a process by which we take old USA-made Harmony and Kay guitars and remanufacture them using our proprietary bracing and internal design, giving the guitars a new life and a world class tone that compares to vintage guitars of the highest order. This re-manufacturing process allows us to create a guitar that is also green, recycling and repurposing by starting with an existing guitar that was originally made with quality woods, and requiring no finish work. These are great guitars that retain their vintage patina and mojo at a price that the average musician can afford.

Many musicians have an old Harmony or Kay laying around that was their first instrument. Some have sent them to us to be rebuilt, and these guitars subsequently became their favorite instrument! Many of our customers are professional recording artists and musicians. If you would like to purchase a remade Harmony or Kay, have one rebuilt, or have one to sell, contact us here.

The Conversion Process


Before we can work our engineering magic on your acoustic guitar we have to completely disassemble it into it's component parts.

We carefully remove the neck and bridge, separate the back from the body, and remove all hardware and old braces. We then inspect and remedy any structural problems.

Neck Reset

Through years of string tension, the neck can pull up, the top can warp, and the dovetail joint can slip: resulting in high playing action or impossible playability.

We remove the neck and clean out the dovetail, before setting a perfect neck angle and glueing back in place to ensure further more years of life.


A precise re-fret, built on-top of a level-planed fingerboard, greatly enhances playing feel, action, sustain, and intonation.

All frets are carefully leveled, crowned, sanded, and polished to a mirror finish as part of the Baxendale Conversion process.

The Nut

Making the perfect guitar nut, ensures optimum resonant transmission, acoustic coupling, and intonation. Each guitar that passes through has a hand carved nut.

Every bespoke nut is made to fit, ramps and guides are filed to be flat and true, and each guitar is expertly tuned for playability and function.


Our bracing pattern, inspired by pre-war models, increases headroom, richness and projection. Combined with vintage tone-woods, we create top shelf guitars at a fraction of the cost.

Each brace is meticulously hand carved, shaped and perfectly fit using the highest quality spruce stock we can source.

The Bridge

Here at Baxendale Conversions, we consider the bridge to be the engine of the guitar. Converting energy supplied by your pick to project sound.

Every guitar that comes through our shop gets a bespoke hand carved bridge to match the style and footprint of the original.

Tuning Gears

Over more than 40 years, the tuning gears on vintage guitars tend to warp and bind together leaving them stiff and unusable.

We replace all tuning gears with high end models as standard. Ensuring precision tuning and years of further use.


Guitar making accounts for a substantial amount of the lumber economy, older guitars are made from exotic wood, unobtainable in todays market.

Our guitars are constructed using the original neck and body woods, and we use minimal new wood for our conversions. We're proud to support environmental concerns.

*Please note, during the conversion process there is a chance of minor cosmetic damage.


The Science


Have you ever wondered why the vintage guitar you have in your hands sounds, and feels, so inviting?

Guitar designs have evolved over time to allow for increased tone and playability. We harness physical laws to produce world class instruments.


The acoustic guitar is a structure under enormous tension. Precise engineering is required to keep it from collapsing under its own forces.

Guitar builders exploit tonal resonances to increase projection and frequency content, setting the top in perfect resonant motion.


Every musical note has its own fundamental frequency, which is the lowest point in a periodic waveform.

As a stringed instrument vibrates, it generates harmonics, which are octaves of the same frequency.


As a string is plucked, it’s motion generates mechanical energy. This mechanical energy is converted to acoustic energy working in harmony to produce sound.

Energy creates resonances, which send structural vibrations throughout the guitar that amplify and combine to create the modern sound of the acoustic guitar.


The internal engineering is where all the secrets lie within a phenomenal sounding guitar.

The top and back bracing collaborate with the tone woods, the bridge and bridge plate to create the engine room of the guitar.


Wood is mainly composed of three components: cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose. The chemical makeup changes over time.

Hemicellulose gradually evaporates, which causes a guitar to lose some of its composite weight. As the pores open up, so does the character.


Our History

From the 1940’s onwards, there were two main players in the department store boom of the era: Sears and Roebuck, and Montgomery Ward. These huge nodes within networks across America stocked everything from fishing tackle and groceries to musical instruments.

Big-time producers of the musical instrument lines were the Harmony Company, and Kay Musical Instruments: both making guitars and amplifiers that ended up with different branding names including Airline, Biltmore, Kent, Knox, and Silvertone, as well as Kay and Harmony in their own right.


Iconic in many households, varied levels of quality from the beginner level Stella, to higher end models such as the Roy Smeck, and Buck Owens editions.

While the quality of tone woods differed, one thing is consistent, they all had solid top, back, and sides, often made from Spruce, Birch, or Mahogany.


As economic measures favored using less desirable source materials and the electric guitar became more of a prolific fashion item, acoustic guitar quality started to suffer.

By the mid 1970’s Harmony and Kay had ceased production. From the 1890’s to mid 1960’s, it is estimated that Harmony Company alone, produced approximately ten million instruments.


When the 90’s arrived, popular music was starting to rebel against the mechanical sheen of the 80’s.

Cheaper guitar models came to the fore with the pawn shop guitar and amp movement for musicians in search of more cranky and authentic sounds.


When Pat Smear played a Buck Owens Harmony on Nirvana’s live recordings for MTV unplugged, it created a surge in popularity.

Renewed interest in unique models resurfaced, continuing to the present day with artists such as Jack White, Dan Auerbach and Alabama Shakes.


After building and repairing guitars for many years, Scott found himself at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, home to some of the most desirable and valuable guitars.

While there, Scott illuminated many guitars to uncover why some sounded better than others, carefully documenting models and applying to his own builds.


From 1998 Scott operated the Colfax Guitar Shop in Denver Colorado, becoming a one-stop-shop for guitar restoration & repairs for touring musicians from the Bluebird Theatre.

Scott’s son, John a future master guitar builder, was apprenticing on Harmony and Kay guitars, learning neck-resets, re-fret’s, and deeper structural work.


After acquiring the basics, they started experimenting with re-builds, discovering the rebuilds rivaled guitars of many times the price and prestige.

What better place to A-B test an idea, than in the store. One day, a customer played a round of vintage guitars and exclaimed “this weird old Harmony is the best sounding guitar in the store”, the Baxendale Conversion was born.


Lee Ronaldo

"I’ve been raving about the Baxendale remanufactured guitar process, to any and everyone, since I had one of my own guitars restored. Scott took a $400 50-s era Kay Super-Jumbo guitar–that I bought on a whim–and turned it into a true world class instrument. You should hear this thing! It’s got bottom end that goes on forever!

They are a-MAZ-ing!"

Lera Lynne

"There’s definitely no shortage of character or quality at Baxendale. It’s the place to go if you want something truly special. Somehow my refurbished ’57 acoustic is surprisingly super rugged too. It’s THE place to go when I’m looking to buy a guitar."

Mike Cooley

"It’s been almost twenty years since I stumbled upon Scott Baxendale and Baxendale guitars. Since then I’ve lost count of how many of these instruments have ended up in the hands of current and former members of DBT, other artists we’ve toured with and fans from all over. What I do know is there is a genuine love of music that oozes out of every one. That’s why they’ve been such a huge part of the sound of Drive by Truckers and I look forward to playing them for many more years to come."

Buddy Miller

"Nobody else does what Scott Baxendale does, Scott stands alone with the vision to re-engineer and transform an old guitar into a much better instrument than it ever was…a masterpiece. I’ve purchased several and they are some of the most soulful instruments I own. My Kay Jumbo sounds as good or better than any of my ’50’s Gibson’s."

Patterson Hood

"Our friend Scott Baxendale has been one of the world’s foremost luthiers for decades. He takes an old vintage guitar and recycles it into a brand-new handmade guitar using as much of the original parts as possible. These are among my very favorite instruments and have been used on our last several albums and played in literally hundreds of shows around the world."

Luther Dickenson

"Baxendale conversions are not only the sound you hear on my records, they are the sound of community. Most recording sessions start with comparing Bax conversions or someone realizing "they need a Bax!". Robert Plant, approached my Sovereign every day, and picked it up, because that’s what "Pagey" played.. They are instant classics, dry, open and ancient–but respond like the classic Martin I’ve never had."

Carl Broemel

"The 3 Baxendale Conversion guitars I own are all unique, inspiring, and useful in their own special ways. I use them on stage and in the studio all the time!"