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LDS714
06-08-2016, 01:48 AM
I found an old Harmony Classmate at the thrift store last night, picked it up for what I believe to be a good price.

It has the plastic fingerboard and seems to be in really good condition other that a slight ding on one of the tuners and the previous owners name painted just below the bridge. No cracks, no big dings. It plays well and has a nice, bright tone.

From what I can tell, it's a late 50's/early 60's model.

Anyone have any additional info on these?

river_driver
06-08-2016, 04:26 AM
Is the Classmate the one with the ADF#B stencil? I've never heard it called that.

Please post some pics!

LDS714
06-08-2016, 04:37 AM
Is the Classmate the one with the ADF#B stencil? I've never heard it called that.

Please post some pics!

Yes, it is. It also has the original owner's name stenciled below the bridge. The case had a "How to play ukulele" pamphlet from the 30's' and a handwritten note thanking the original owner for the loan of the uke, saying she was returning it because she'd 'graduated' to guitar. I'll get some pics of it today and post them.

PhilUSAFRet
06-08-2016, 04:55 AM
Congrats on getting a good sounding one. All Harmony's not created equal.

LDS714
06-08-2016, 05:11 AM
Pics!

9174791748

river_driver
06-08-2016, 05:22 AM
Pics!

9174791748

Nice score! Based on the asymmetrical Harmony logo on the headstock, this is an earlier one, from the beginning of the plastic fretboard era (~early to mid '50's). The body is solid birch. The neck is maybe poplar?

Ukejenny
06-08-2016, 07:15 AM
Looks great!!!

LDS714
06-08-2016, 09:06 AM
Nice score! Based on the asymmetrical Harmony logo on the headstock, this is an earlier one, from the beginning of the plastic fretboard era (~early to mid '50's). The body is solid birch. The neck is maybe poplar?

Not sure about the neck. Does poplar look a lot like maple? I would guess maple, but if poplar is more economical then that's probably what it is.

actadh
06-08-2016, 10:55 AM
Great score!

I have a similar Harmony, but not the Classmate. Such fun to play

Camsuke
06-08-2016, 11:51 AM
Excellent, this little ukulele has found a new home. Enjoy!

igorthebarbarian
06-08-2016, 12:30 PM
Sweet- that looks cool. I've never seen one of those before

Nickie
06-08-2016, 12:49 PM
Fine looking piece of musical history there!

dickadcock
06-09-2016, 03:05 PM
A nice find...
Check out the Harmony catalogs here (http://harmony.demont.net/catalogs.php) and you'll see that for less than 10 bucks -- and a time machine --- you could have a new one. I started on the #125 1/2 about 1960. Click the 1959 or 1962 catalogs!

LDS714
06-09-2016, 03:11 PM
A nice find...
Check out the Harmony catalogs here (http://harmony.demont.net/catalogs.php) and you'll see that for less than 10 bucks -- and a time machine --- you could have a new one. I started on the #125 1/2 about 1960. Click the 1959 or 1962 catalogs!

Man! I was ripped off! Figuring in depreciation, they should have paid me about $100 to take it! :D

Edited to add:
What a fantastic resource! Thank you very much!

The 1967 Sears catalog has my Silvertone twin twelve amp in it. I had no idea they were that expensive, $180 is about what a Stratocaster cost back then.

dickadcock
06-09-2016, 03:25 PM
Man! I was ripped off! Figuring in depreciation, they should have paid me about $100 to take it! :D

One like my old uke was in a local shop recently for $100! It might still be there. (I gave my old one away in 1968)... We had a 5-string banjo from the 59/62 catalogs, too, and my brother in Texas still has it, but he now plays a tenor plectrum style with a "banjo band".

UkerDanno
06-10-2016, 11:03 AM
Not sure about the neck. Does poplar look a lot like maple? I would guess maple, but if poplar is more economical then that's probably what it is.

If anyone knows, it would be river driver...

river_driver
06-10-2016, 11:44 AM
If anyone knows, it would be river driver...

Does this mean I've become the go-to guy for info on the humble Harmony? I can live with that...

I supposed (back in post #6) that the neck was poplar. Harmony typically used less expensive woods on the plastic FB models, since they were cheap and intended as entry-level "student" instruments. So, usually birch bodies and poplar necks (though I do have a Silvertone branded one from 1968 that's all mahogany). But ALWAYS solid woods. I've never seen a Chicago built Harmony uke that was laminate. If someone has one, I'd like to see it!

Poplar is considered a hardwood, but as such it is pretty soft. It was frequently used for necks on student grade, Chicago built instruments. Generally they didn't hold up on steel strung guitars, at least until the advent of the "Steel Reinforced Neck", and even then it was iffy. But the string tension on the ukes wasn't so much of a problem. The ukes were more likely to come apart at the seams than develop warped necks. Today poplar is sometimes used as a body wood on inexpensive solid body guitars.

Re: birch, I've heard people say that as a tonewood birch is somewhat similar to maple (that is, tonally), I suppose in the way that sapele is supposed to be tonally similar to mahogany. I remember reading somewhere (90% sure it was in Jake Wildwood's blog, though I can't find it now), that in the early 20th century furniture makers sold birch as "northern maple" even though it's not maple at all.

Edit to add: I found Jake's blog post: http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2013/12/c1920-harmony-made-mele-soprano-ukulele.html#more

Inksplosive AL
06-10-2016, 12:35 PM
Nice score! Based on the asymmetrical Harmony logo on the headstock, this is an earlier one, from the beginning of the plastic fretboard era (~early to mid '50's). The body is solid birch. The neck is maybe poplar?

I think its a bit later going by this resource. "The last of the Chicago labels" http://www.catfish1952.com/harmony.html

Scroll down a bit to read "I've been told that this model was marketed to school music programs...
(I guess that would explain the notes). I wonder if they made one for the "other" tuning"

I myself own two mahogany sopranos one with the 20's - 30's label this one really barks. Another with a slightly larger body with the 1950's label. Mine both have wooden fretboards. Trying to keep myself from buying the red one in the marketplace.

~peace~

river_driver
06-10-2016, 01:14 PM
Good catch Al! I looked more closely at the catalogs in the link dickadcock posted and the asymmetrical logo is indeed later than the symmetrical one. So this is maybe latest '60's, or very beginning of the '70's.

Here I had believed, erroneously, for some time now that the asymmetrical logo was older. Learn something new every day. These can be so damned hard to date...they churned out thousands of identical ukes, year after year, and didn't stamp any kind of number inside like they did with their guitars. I know my '68 Silvertone is a '68 because I have the original box with the sales slip still attached! Without that, who knows!

Oh and I will add, the red one in the marketplace is very nice...

LDS714
06-10-2016, 01:36 PM
I supposed (back in post #6) that the neck was poplar. Harmony typically used less expensive woods on the plastic FB models, since they were cheap and intended as entry-level "student" instruments. So, usually birch bodies and poplar necks (though I do have a Silvertone branded one from 1968 that's all mahogany). But ALWAYS solid woods. I've never seen a Chicago built Harmony uke that was laminate. If someone has one, I'd like to see it!

Poplar is considered a hardwood, but as such it is pretty soft. It was frequently used for necks on student grade, Chicago built instruments.

Cool. Like I said, I don't know much about wood, so yeah, poplar sounds right. Thanks!