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Thread: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

  1. #1
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    Default Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    It's been a little while since I've posted here, but I've just brought this guy home. No name on the headstock, but it seems fairly definitely Harmony made and identical to the Monterey models. It's not going to blow away your Gibsons or fine luthier built instruments, but it sounds good and is quite charming! It looks to be a solid but plain looking hardwood under the faux flame job. The price was very reasonable too.
    I suppose I'm curious to know about it's age and why no name on the headstock. Though I've seen similar labelling on Harmony built instruments sold through catalogues, so that seems likely.
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  2. #2
    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    Looks just like my Harmony Monterey H410 that I just gave to some friends’ son. - from 1960s, I believe. A fun little instrument and has a very decent sound when you use the right picks. I used to use mine as my “kitchen mandolin”.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Or maybe the seventies.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    Yes, it is a Sears vended Silvertone- a Harmony Monterey- the lower grade model with a faux finish.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/30415685804...0AAOSw1odfC3wV

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    It's a very late Harmony built mandolin that was made for the trade with no label. I'm not sure where the Sears connection comes in. For their history Harmony built unlabeled instruments. It's not unusual.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    I imagine it had that "Space Dot" logo and it has fallen off with time.

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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    Thanks, that's more or less what I'd suspected from reading older posts. I can't see signs on the headstock front of having lost a badge, but then if it happened early on it might have avoided any fading. And "late" in this context would mean up until some time in the 70s when they stopped US production, right?
    My main goal with it is just to have a mandolin that I'm happy to take camping or pass around to drunk friends when jamming at parties, but still a little more characterful than something new and cheap. And it seems like with some setup tweaks it'll fill that role nicely.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    I would imagine that the badge could have been removed early on and any glue residue polished off. I think you have bought a mandolin that fulfils your criteria, all right. Here is an analysis and appreciation of one- it is judging by the headstock logo- a very late Harmony instrument from the mid-70s. It also has the Grover tuners that were used after Waverly ceased manufacturing in the very early 70s and the new Harmony code for this venerable model. I think that the Waverly tuners make yours a late 60s or very early 70s build.

    https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/20...-mandolin.html

  8. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    Late would be just prior to 1975. I used to buy new when I was young. They didn't start labeling that way until just before the end.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Late would be just prior to 1975. I used to buy new when I was young. They didn't start labeling that way until just before the end.
    Ah, that would figure. While it looks like this model didn't change a lot over several decades, it doesn't quite have the look of aging that my older guitar and banjo do - it seems quite fresh. I've got it playing nicely now with some tweaking to the bridge. The tuners are passable rather than good, they're stiff even with a little oil, but they'll do.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    Yeah, the fake flame and model number stamp look just like what is in a Silvertone guitar I have from the late 60s (guessing).

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    I don't think much changed in the Harmony manufacturing world until the very late 60's into the 70's. Prior to that the finishes seemed pretty constant. I bought my first imported guitars in 1968-69. The finishes were much better than what Harmony and Kay had offered for years and I think they were trying to play catch up after not having to work too hard for a long time. Other than a few bright spots just after the Folk Music revival of the late 50's-early 60's they were pretty dull. They had owned the market for a long time and it became apparent that things were going to change. You saw the introduction of the Yamaha and Takamine guitars to name a few along with all the clones of the electrics. Things changed really quick. Don't get me wrong, the Gibson's and Martin's had always been there but for most of us they were an impossible dream. I still have my first Yamaha red label guitar. It's been beat up over the years and repaired and now lives in a later model case. They didn't sell with a case when I got mine. It was extra and I bought the best case they had, a crappy cardboard thing. I didn't know there were nicer cases at the time.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    I suppose it's a similar story over here in the UK with the lower end of European brands that were ubiquitous before instruments from Japan, Korea et.al came onto the scene. Some of those older budget instruments can be interesting to have around today as a "character" instrument, but it would definitely be frustrating if they were all that was available.

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  14. #13
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    One of the first things buyers noticed about the first Japanese instruments to appear around 1970 or so, was that they looked like the higher-priced instruments that many of us wanted but couldn't afford. The Harmony instruments, as well as Kay and the other budget US brands, looked cheaper, with dull finishes, few inlays, little binding or other ornamentation, etc.

    Your Takamine or Yamaha resembled a Martin or a Gibson, not a Harmony or Kay. Whatever construction improvements (or non-improvements) the imports featured, they looked a helluva lot better than their domestic competitors -- who soon met their demises.
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  16. #14
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    ...Your Takamine or Yamaha resembled a Martin or a Gibson, not a Harmony or Kay. Whatever construction improvements (or non-improvements) the imports featured, they looked a helluva lot better than their domestic competitors -- who soon met their demises.
    Exactly. Here a 17 year old guy from Oregon named Mike stands in front of his senior assembly at James Madison High School and plays a Donovan song on a Yamaha 12-string.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    I ran across this page from a 1972 Sears Catalogue, and sure enough, there's this model, with a catalogue number that also includes 12971. I know that chimes with everything in the thread already, but the page was still quite fun to see.
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    I'm finding it fun to play - it's not the loudest mandolin I've heard, it's not going to be anyone's choice to do battle with a banjo or accordion in full flight, but it's a likeable tone all the same and I've heard and played a lot worse for more money.

  19. #16

    Default Re: Unlabelled Harmony - Sears?

    Well done, good sleuthing. You just need that "space dot". They are out there- and I hope not at a stupid price and insane shipping- $40 to the UK or some madness when the item could be sent over in a letter!

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