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|Products||Guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, violins|
The Harmony Company was, in its heyday, the largest musical instrument manufacturer in the United States. They made many types of stringed instruments, including ukuleles, acoustic and electric guitars, and violins.
Harmony was founded in 1892 by Wilhelm Schultz. In 1916, Sears, Roebuck and Co. purchased it, in part to corner the ukulele market. At the time Harmony was led by Joe Kraus, who was chairman until 1940.
In 1928, Harmony introduced the first of many Roy Smeck models, and went on to become the largest producer in the U.S. They sold 250,000 pieces in 1923 and 500,000 in 1930, including various models of guitars, banjos, and mandolins.
In the late 1930s, the firm began making violins again after a 19-year hiatus. They also bought brand names from the bankrupt Oscar Schmidt Co.—La Scala, Stella, and Sovereign. They sold not only Harmony products, but instruments under the Sears name, Silvertone, and a variety of trade names—Vogue, Valencia, Johnny Marvin, Monterey, Stella, and others. In 1940, after Kraus had a conflict with management, he left, but then bought enough stock to restart the company independently.
Between 1945 and 1975, the Chicago firm mass-produced about ten million guitars. The company reduced their output over the years, later focusing on student models sold through JCPenney. The Harmony brand peaked in 1964-1965, selling 350,000 instruments, but low-end foreign competition led to the company's demise 10 years later.
The pickups on almost all electric guitars and basses that Harmony produced were manufactured by Rowe Industries Inc. (later known as H.N. Rowe & Company, Rowe DeArmond Inc., and DeArmond Inc.) of Toledo, Ohio. Many of the instrument amplifiers badged with the Harmony name were manufactured by Sound Projects Company of Cicero, Illinois.
The Harmony Guitar Company ceased in 1975, and sold the Harmony name. In the early 2000s, an unrelated company, the Westheimer Corp., based in Lake Barrington, Illinois briefly imported "reissue" Harmony guitars.
(Syd Barrett's 1st guitar)
Silvertone model 1219 Buck Owens "American" (1971) by Harmony Company
H1213 Archtone (c.1963)
H49 Stratotone Jupiter (Silvertone 1423)
H78 3-pickups with Bigsby
- Related brands
- Kohman, Peter Stuart (June 2014). "Journey to the Stratotone! Harmony and the Early Solidbody". Vintage Guitar. pp. 54–60.
"Harmony Guitar Page". Broadway Music Co. Archived from the original on 2012-09-23.
In 1975 the Harmony Guitar Co. in Chicago ceased operations and had a huge three-day auction.
- Zachary Fjestad. "Harmony Archtone H1213". Premier Guitar (Dec 2011).
- "1962 Harmony Roy Smeck Stratotone Model H7208". Traynor Tweaks (kilback.net).
Manufactured by Harmony in Chicago, USA, in mid-1962. Similar to Harmony Stratotone H49 Jupiter, but different pickups and controls.
- Acoustic Guitars: The Illustrated Encyclopedia. New York: Chartwell Books. 2011. ISBN 978-0-7858-3571-4.
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