Vintage Stringed Instruments and Amps: Electronic Musical Items & Brands

Vintage Stringed Instruments and Amps Electronic Musical Items & Brands
Written by Alyssia Walmsley

In 1915, after the Worlds Fair, Harmony became the world’s first large scale manufacturer of Ukuleles. In 1916 Sears & Roebuck Company acquired Harmony to take over the ukulele production. When WW1 severed the industries German wood source, Harmony became America’s only large scale violin manufacturer along with making other popular musical instruments.

Vintage Bass Guitars

Harmony made nice Bass guitar through the years.They had the unique vintage sound that Harmony was known for. Harmony’s popular H27 had 2 DeArmond pickups. Like the H22 model they were well balanced and great tone from the heavy hardware and beautiful wood. H22 was a cutaway and H22 1 was a double cutaway.

Tube Amplifiers

The Rally Stripe Series were the catalogue series solid state amps. The Model H-191 was made with 3 inputs. Most of the speakers from Harmony were middle of the road with the special design Jenson speaker that Harmony used on several of their models. The Silvertone guitar and amp were made by Dan electro (model 1448) the amp is part of the case.

Vintage Steel Guitars

Thousands of steel guitar players played Harmony Lap steel guitar brands. The Hawaiian guitar as it is sometimes called has roots in the South Pacific in the 1940’s and 50’s. In the 1950’s the Pedal Steel guitar was born and the lap steel faded away into obscurity. The steel guitar gets its name from the steel bar used to play it and Lap is from were it sat while playing. They are tuned normally in open G, A and E.

Harmony Mandolins, Ukuleles & Tiples Musical Instruments

Harmony created thousands of different variety of instruments through the years. They ran from cheap to indescribably cool. From the 1920’s there were #354 #325 and Smeck models also the Valencia and Patrician. The mandolin line was fine Marque models with a body and the F holes.

Mandolins by 1960 consisted of 3 basic models the 417 Monterey $59.50. A 410 Monterey for $40.00(intermediate). The Stella Lute (Budget model) and model H35 Electric Mandolin with Gold Tone DeArmond pickups came up in the 60’s and was $119.00

“To the player who is not familiar with the Tible, the strength and sweetness of its tone will be a revelation. Played with a Ukulele technique, its melody has all the charm of a guitar. There are 10 strings arranged in 4 sets, tuned like a ukulele, but in unison and octaves Any proficient ukulele player can readily master the playing of the Tiple.” The Harmony Co. 1934 Chicago,Illinois.

They are constructed of hardwood and trimmed with celluloid. They came in entry level #833 a spruce top #824 a deluxe model with mother of pearl inlays with rosewood fingerboard and genuine bone nut saddle. It also had rosewood bridge with tortoise shell pick guard. In 1934 cost $16.50.

Harmony really had some fun making these instruments and any one can tell by the interesting designs on them throughout the years. The ukuleles became popular at the Worlds Fair in San Francisco and Harmony capitalized on this and became the first large scale manufacturer in 1915. From 1915-60’s models #H8685 tenor H695 H695 Baritone #125 ¾ and the 119 (beginner instrument) #98 & the Roy Smeck H555 listed for $20.00

Harmony Tenor Guitars

The Archtop 4 string Tenor Guitar was 371/2 in. long and 31/2 in deep. Carved “F” holes and very pronounced arch. It had an Adjustable Brazilian Rosewood Bridge and a Trapeze Tailpiece. Originally Tenor guitars were used in “parlor” groups and Jazz bands. They were uncommon and desirable.

Harmony Tenor & 5 String Banjos

The Banjo was a standard at the Harmony Company. Just like everything from Harmony ran from the cheap to the more expensive models. The good models were under the Sovereign brand of Tenor and 5 string Banjo. Most banjo players started out on the student grade banjo and worked their way up to better models. They were made as early as 1900 until the end of production. The pre-war models were the most desirable.

After WW11 the the Roy Smeck model became popular because of his incredible performances. They were some of the highest quality instruments that Harmony had to offer. They still were middle of the road and could not compete with the Martin & Gibson line of Banjos. The models were the Roy Smeck model # 8125 Tenor Deluxe 30 # 28005 # 8000 ($45.00)in 1960. #H 28132 was a long neck Pete Seeger model. The # 28130 Bluegrass Model listed $75.00 The Traditional Folk Banjos were still about $45.00 used as the student model.

Harmony ‘s ability to mass produce musical instruments made them the number one supplier in student instruments. The selection of these Folk instruments was as diverse as all the differant instruments they made

About the author

Alyssia Walmsley

Alyssia is a Cornell University graduate of 2003 and a former lead technology development manager for Microsoft and Cisco Networking Systems. Between writing on her blog, SkyGone Inc, loves adventures and chocolate sprinkles!

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