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Harmony Guitar

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Ballyholme 22 May 02 - 08:18 AM
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Lonesome EJ 24 May 02 - 07:36 PM
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Subject: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,ozmacca
Date: 21 May 02 - 07:20 PM

Thanks for all the help on the American Standard mandolin - and now another challenge... I play with a friend who has an old guitar which came from his father, who bought it second-hand, possibly sometime in the forties/fifties. And he doesn't think it was exactly new then. Can anybody pin-point a date or other maker details?

It is a 6 string with an exaggerated classic guitar shape. It has pronounced swelling to front and back, F sound holes, and the dark (not black) fingerboard has lighter wood between some of the frets. The head carries the marking "HARMONY - Paloma", and is fitted with old style small button machine heads. The finish is a medium dark overall stain with white edge. The strings are carried over a separate bridge to an open-work metal tailpiece. It has the holes where a scratch-plate used to be fitted.

Oh yes, and it plays and sounds great. He uses it regularly in performances and wouldn't part with it for worlds.

What intrigues me is that it looks for all the world like a mandolin maker decided to build a guitar and just sort of scaled up and changed the shape but kept the technique.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: bill\sables
Date: 22 May 02 - 06:03 AM

Harmony guitars were made in Chicago till they were bought out by Japan sometime after 1962. I bought a Harmony Soverign in 62 and it still plays better than it did when new. They also made mandolins and banjos.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 22 May 02 - 06:20 AM

Harmony Guitars (Click)


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 22 May 02 - 07:20 AM

I recall Harmony made the cheapest guitars that were still playable back in the late 1950s. Their bottom of the line was the Stella, which didn't even have the Harmony name on it, and sold for around $15. An almost identical guitar with the Harmony name cost about $25. The top of the line was the Harmony Sovereign, selling for about $50 or $60. Overall, the Harmony tone was bearable at best and God damned awful at worst. But at least the action was decent, which is more than an be said about the other El Cheapos.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Ballyholme
Date: 22 May 02 - 08:18 AM

I've got to agree with bill\sables. I have a 60s Harmony Sovereign and it probably sounds better now than it did when I bought it. The curved fretboard has always given me a problem when using a capo, though. I always have to retune. Because of the method of construction, however, most models I have seen have cracked front and/or back. I did find a website some time ago which had great photographs of Harmony guitars and current values. A search on Google will probably find it.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Mark Ross
Date: 22 May 02 - 12:27 PM

The website for those guitars is;

www.stellaguitars.com

This site covers a wide range of instruments, Stellas, Oscar Schmidt, Harmony, Galliano.

MArk Ross


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Mudlark
Date: 22 May 02 - 05:28 PM

Janice...I had one of those "worst sounding" Harmony guitars...it was my first, given to me by my folks for xmas, back in the 50's. I learned to play on it, but it sounded like someone had strung a stump. I was glad when I found someone who actually wanted to buy it.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,ozmacca
Date: 22 May 02 - 06:17 PM

Thanks everybody. I found the Harmony guitars site etc, but was wondering about the Paloma model, which doesn't seem to rate a specific mention. Just one of those things. Not to worry though, I thank you, my friend thanks you, My friend's lady friend thank you, her mother's auntie thanks you, the cat thanks you etc etc etc....


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:00 PM

I have an early 80s Korean Harmony dreadnought. Action is a bit stiff, but she has excellent tone and an incredibly vibrant bass response. I've played sweeter and gentler guitars, but my Harmony has a characteristic, powerful sound, and most players who've had a chance to play her have praised her as a quality instrument.

Didn't Hank play a Harmony?


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: 53
Date: 23 May 02 - 02:25 PM

I wish that I had one of the older Harmony guitars, that would be neat. Maybe I'll run across one in a yardsale one day. Maybe I could get it for 5 or 6 bucks. Bob


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 02 - 01:21 PM

...Martin makes a D-28 in honor of Hank Williams - and as a promotional endorsement, the company lists Hank Sr. as one of the artists who has played Martin guitars.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 02 - 01:29 PM

Martin D-28HW


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 May 02 - 02:20 PM

Harmony made a classic guitar back in the mid-Fifties that sold for $55.00, and it was a pretty darn good instrument. I had a Martin 00-28-G at the time, and I used a Harmony as a second guitar. Good action, the dimensions were exactly the same as the Martin, and the tone was acceptable. I had a lot of guitar students who started out on them, and one of my former students was still playing his thirty-five years later. Great value for the money.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Ballyholme
Date: 24 May 02 - 02:34 PM

I believe that Ralph McTell used to play a Harmony Sovereign in his early days.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 24 May 02 - 03:44 PM

I WISH I could find any info on my Harmony Tenor guitar... IT's either a VERY young knock-off, or a VERY old guitar in AMAZING condition...

I gotta post some pics of it on my web site...

;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 24 May 02 - 07:36 PM

Jimmy Page had a 50s era Harmony that he used on some Zeppelin tracks, including When the Levee Breaks.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Reverend Georgie B
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 01:07 AM

I've got a way cool old (40s-50s) Harmony archtop that someone stuck a bizzare looking old single coil pick-up on. The pick-up looks like the top of an old Remington electric razor. The guitar is a sort of dark sunburst but not really. Sounds great and plays great once you get used to the hand-carved baseball bat they used for the neck.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 11:57 AM

About a year and a half ago I found a 1963 Harmony Sovereign laying in the basement of someone my wife works with. It had been unused for some 30 years. They were indifferent about parting with it and didn't even want to take the $100 I wanted them to have for their effort and for giving me a guilt free conscience.

After investing another $100 to my luthier who set the neck, and strengthened the top seam, I have found this is a guitar to be treasured. It was the top of the line Harmony, all spruce top with mahogany back and sides. Super tone and volume that jumps out of it's somewhat oversized lower bout.

If you find one cheap, grab it and put some money into it. 1960-63 Sovereigns are found fairly regulary in the ads in Vintage Guitar magazine for $500-$600. Keep in mind that it was American made with halfway decent materials and craftsmanship.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: fat B****rd
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 03:23 AM

Martin ? Gibson ?


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 03:44 PM

Fat?
B****rd?


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,jim
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 03:54 PM

Ian Tamblyn uses a Harmony Sovereign as a high-strung guitar and his friend and sometimes accompanist, Fred ?, plays a Harmony Sovereign strung with standard strings. Ian speaks very highly of these guitars.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 05:33 PM

Curved fingerboard Ballyholme? You should be able to find a curved capo easy enough. Keyser make one. Of course it might be the curve's too curvy. I've got a portuguese mandola like that, but I was able to get a cheap capo with a metal rod in a rubber tube, and it was just a matter of getting it bent to the right curvature.

I've got a Japanese made Angelica guitar, which I think dates back to 1960 or so, and someone told me it was essentially a version of a Harmony. Lovely guitar - nice low action, which I like, and very light to carry for its size. I'm hugging it in this picture. (And if anyone knows more about Angelicas, I'd be interested to find out.)


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: bigchuck
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 06:35 PM

IIRC, the Paloma? was a fairly standard archtop of the period and would have been made out of shaped plywood. I've had a couple of old Kays that were similar and fairly fun to play if setup properly.
SAndy


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 07:14 PM

Writing that got me curious again, and I found this about Angelica's:

Angelica:Instruments previously built in Japan from circa 1967 to 1975. The Angelica trademark is a brandname used by UK importers Boosey & Hawkes on these entry level guitars and basses based on classic American designs. Some of the original designs produced for Angelica are actually better in quality.
Angelica instruments were not distributed to the U.S. market. Some models may be encountered on the Eastern Seaboard, but the average price for these guitars ranges around $100 to $150.

(Source: Tony Bacon and Paul Day, The Guru´s Guitar Guide)


from this site - and it's also got some detailed stuff about Harmony Guitars which might solve those questions up the thread.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Peter Woodruff
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 07:22 PM

I purchased my first guitar in 1959...I was 12 years old! Oh my! I learned to travis pick "Freight Train" on that 3/4 size sunburst Harmony after many hours of frustration. I'm sorry to say I don't have it today...wish I did after reading this thread.

Peter


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 07:56 PM

McGrath of Harlow, I have a Keyser but I still have to make tuning adjustments when I use it. Believe me, I have tried everything and the frustration is probably the reason I took up the mandolin last year. That said, I love the sound of the Sovereign. With a fresh set of strings it provides me with a nice rich sound. The guy in my local music store drew my attention to the fact that the guitar would be approaching the "vintage" stage and I could probably find a buyer, if I was interested. Having had the guitar from new (bought around 1969 after its predecessor was knicked in Belfast) I think we'll grow old together gracefully.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: fat B****rd
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 06:05 AM

Touche, Martin.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 06:47 PM

I take it that'd be the Keyser which is made for a rounded rather than flat keyboard? I believe they have several variants. It's incredibly frustrating having a capo that puts you out of tune, but I've found that the rounded version works well with my Angelica.

And the bent-nail-in-a-rubber-tube version works pretty well with the Portuguese mandola, and that is a really curved fretboard, almost like a crescent moon.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: khandu
Date: 15 Mar 03 - 02:23 PM

I have a Harmony Tenor guitar (4-string). The date of manufacture is stamped inside. I don't know if this is true of all Harmonys, but I do know that on most Tenors the date is there.

Ken


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: Cleanhead
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 12:56 AM

Learned to play my first chords on an old Harmony archtop that my daddy owned, the guitar disapeared sometime in the 70"'s (think my druggie brother sold it) but even with rusty strings (my dad believed wasting money on strings was a sin and if it wasn't broke it was fine) I still managed to make music of a sort. Sure wish I still had that box, I think we all miss our first guitars. PS does anyone else remember buyin Black Diomand strings one at a time ha ha, this question is for the old guys.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 11:17 AM

Yes, I remember Black Diamond strings. I used to buy them at a place in Niles, Il called Pearson's music. The place was an old fashioned music store which sold some low end instruments, some accessories, and phono records which you could sample in a few listening rooms in the back of the store.

These were the days when you broke a string, you went out and bought a new one to replace it.


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: sian, west wales
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 11:42 AM

Didn't everyone start off with one-at-a-time Black Diamonds?? (Personally, I think they had a separate supply of Gs for girl customers; they kept breakin' and I kept going in and asking for them g-strings...)

My second guitar was my sister's hand-me-down Harmony Sovereign (circa 1962) and it's still my main baby! Spruce and mahogany. Sliced my fingers to ribbons, but at least no one else ever wanted to borrow it in a session ...

sian


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: khandu
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 12:12 PM

Heck, I thought Black Diamonds were the only brand of strings that existed back then. At least, that's the only brand available in Indianola, MS. And, yes, I bought them one at a time.

Ken


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: CraigS
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 06:09 PM

Shame on you, Sian, buying those exotic Black Diamond strings when all the rest of us were buying Rotosounds and St Davids which were made in Wales!


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Subject: RE: Help: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,Slickerbill
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 06:12 PM

Found an old Harmony arch top next to a dumpster behind the local second hand store. cracked in several places around the f-holes. Thus began my foray into guitar repair. Got the cracks fixed up best I could. It's still a work in progress though; in the process of fitting a bridge to it. Nice to hear it's got a shot at sounding decend (IF my repairs hold up :). sb


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Subject: RE: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 06:50 PM

Circa 1950 or '51, I wanted to learn to play guitar. My parents wanted me to take piano lessons, which I suffered for about a New York minute. They finally acquiesced, but as a penalty for dropping piano, my Dad picked up a used Stella from a pawn shop. The poor soul who pawned it couldn't have made $5 on the deal. It was dreadful, but it was my first instrument. The sound was dead. There was no resonance to the box. The neck was fairly true in the first position and potluck after that. I later complemented it with a badly worn Kay banjo, with the resonater missing in action. I was on a ranch, six miles from nowhere and taught myself in the barn. When you start with something so inadequate, it really makes you appreciate an average guitar and a decent venue, never mind my first Goya or Martin D-28.


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Subject: RE: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 10:52 AM

First guitar was a Silvertone arch top. BOught Black Diamonds one at a time at the local drug store.


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Subject: RE: Harmony Guitar
From: Slag
Date: 07 Oct 10 - 12:42 AM

Just before I got out of the Air Force in '73 the base exchange got a load of Harmony guitars in, classical style with nylon strings. They had a row of about 50 set up for display. "Yeah, I'll bet" I thought. I walked down the row plucking every other one's strings. Dull thuds mostly some had a little tone but then I hit one that just rang! What?!! I tuned it up and thought "Wow somebody made a mistake! A real guitar!" I bought it for $70. no tax and I've been playing it ever since. The tone has just improved over the years. My son grew up with it but plays nothing but electric these days. I hope he appreciates it by the time he inherits it.


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Subject: RE: Harmony Guitar
From: PHJim
Date: 07 Oct 10 - 12:03 PM

John Sebastion played a Harmony Sovereign in the Woodstock movie. I think he said that he borrowed it from Tim Hardin, but I could be wrong. These are great guitars and many players who have very expensive guitars have been seen playing these.


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Subject: RE: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,DDenny
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 04:02 PM

I have several Harmony guitars. My oldest is an 1896 STAR parlor guitar with Brazillian Rosewood back and sides and a Spruce top. Sold new for $3.95 in 1896. I also have a 1903 Harmony Kappelor guitar. There are only two of these known to still exist. It was a top of the line guitar when it was made and sold by Sears for $10.86 at a time when the average monthly wage in the US was $18. Both of these guitars are made of high quality woods and excellent craftsmanship that matched the Martins of their time. By the 1930's Harmony made 50% of all the guitars sold in the US. After WWII the brand declined until they went out of business in 1970. The Brand name was bought by a Chinese company about 15 years ago and they put out an economy line of guitars. Harmony also made Stellas and close to 50 other brands. If you can find a Harmony made before 1939 you'll have a quality instrument. After that until 1970 they were still American made of solid wood but they were production line cheapies except for the Soverigns.


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Subject: RE: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST,DDenny
Date: 22 Feb 13 - 05:01 PM

I've added a couple more Harmony's to my collection. A 1966 Custom Built Classic that is the same size as a parlor. It has a Brazillian rosewood bridge and fretboard and maple back and sides with a spruce top. I play it more than my '62 Martin 00-18C. I also picked up a 1970 Harmony Sovereign that is a mediocre player at best. I also found an original 1938 Supro Singing Cowboys guitar (a Harmony brand). It's going to need a neck reset but otherwise in excellent condition. If you are a vintage guitar collector on a budget you can't beat the old Harmonys and their offshoot brands.


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Subject: RE: Harmony Guitar
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 22 Feb 13 - 06:56 PM

I had a harmony in 1970 for several years. It sounded great to me after the sears guitar I had before. It cost $65 I paid for it with confirmation gift money. A good guitar for a 16 year old.


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Subject: RE: Harmony Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Aug 15 - 05:15 PM

Been a while since I've posted and several more vintage Harmony guitars have joined my collection and several were sold off. I had a 1904 round hole archtop and just bought a 1901 parlor that I think the model number is 12G60. It came with the trap door canvas case. I found two more 1896 parlors with the faux Brazilian rosewood back and sides at a barn sale but both of them have moved on to new owners. I also have a 1895 ARION model Harmony parlor that is one of the finest vintage parlors I have ever come across. Wish I could post pictures here.


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