View Full Version : harmony ukulele

05-11-2010, 07:25 PM
Does any one have an opinion of harmony ukuleles, specifically made around the 40's?

05-11-2010, 07:51 PM
I have a Silvertone with a wood fretboard, made by Harmony. I like it and I think it looks great as it has the stencil of the Hawaiian woman playing a uke. It is a rather quiet uke compared to other uke's I own, even with Aquilla strings. I have an earlier Regal made uke that looks very similar but is much louder and has a brighter sound. However, the Silvertone plays nicely and I am glad to have it.

Do you have a lead on an old Harmony?

05-11-2010, 09:06 PM
I have one from the late 20's early 30's with a Hawaiian style neck with the frets set in directly. It is loud with great mahogany sound. It has a nice rounded back. The only thing I don't like is the bar frets are not as smooth as I like on my fingertips, and the tuners are a bit hard to fine tune. Otherwise it's a sweetie!

05-12-2010, 01:04 AM
yes it is a 1940's harmony soprano with gold stenciling very pretty not sure what would be a fair price any ideas?

05-12-2010, 01:29 AM
Harmony (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmony_Company) was a mid-to-low range company, producing adequate but unspectaclar instruments for many decades (almost a century). It was founded in 1892 by Wilhelm Schultz but in 1916, it was bought by Sears, Roebuck and Co., which wanted to corner the rapidly growing ukulele market.

They were the largest stringed instrument and guitar maker in the USA for quite a while. A lot of their line was in the budget category, however. They also made many instruments that were rebranded for other companies. Vintage Harmony instruments are now collectibles for many people, but are not valued in the same range as Martin or Gibson instruments of the same era.

According to one site (http://harmony.rothguitar.com/#other):

By 1915, the time of the San Franscico exposition when the uke came into the public eye, they were the largest manufacturers of ukuleles in America. Through the 60's they continued to have an extensive line of ukuleles. Their line of 8 models consisted of the No. H685 tenor and No. H695 Baritone Ukuleles. These instruments evolved to being made with selected striped mahogany veneers, by the late 60's. The earlier ones were made of seasoned mahogany, nicely figured. The '62 catalogue lists the Brazilian rosewood fingerboards as a feature. The smaller soprano ukes consisted of No. 125 ½ as an excellent beginner's instrument. The No. 119 ½ and the later No. H 98 had stencil scenes and fingerboards that were "Accurately Molded " out of polystyrene. The Roy Smeck Uke No. 555 continued in the line, as the better soprano uke. This also had this plastic fingerboard by the mid 60's. It was the concert size, and larger, which had a rosewood fingerboard. At $20 list, it was real Harmony quality. Harmony's wide choice of ukuleles, whether it was " for fun or educational purpose…gave tangible evidence of their leadership."
Their baritone ukes and tenor guitars still show up as unplayed cast offs from the main stream of instruments.
My first acoustic guitar was a used, somewhat battered, Harmony.

05-12-2010, 02:32 AM
Harmony ukuleles seem to be the most prevalent old ukes on ebay. I figure there's a reason for this and that reason being they've held up decently.
Also, L.A. White Jr's Ukulele Players Guide seems to be keen on the old Harmonies.

05-12-2010, 02:59 AM
I think Harmony Ukes came about and were produced in HUGE numbers supporting the Uke craze in the 1930s. Many of them were entry level. I have a Harmony banjo Uke myself from 1930. It is not a percision instrument by no means. But, fun to own and play just for the nostalgia of it. It took allot of work to make it a joy to play. I replace the crappy original tuners with a decent set of geared tuners, and it took allot of work to lower the action to a playable level. New maple, ebony and bone bridge, and polishing the frets, as well as filing the edges of the frets to make it smoother to run my hands along the fretboard made an otherwise clumbsy old Uke into a nice playing uke. They are cool, just because they are vintage, but, again, not so un-common because so many were mass produced, and not the best of quality. The Banjo Uke is built like a tank though..

05-12-2010, 03:20 AM
At there peak, I think they produced 500,000 in one year. As mentioned above, alot of them aren't that great. However I've seen some really great ones. I once saw a beautiful Harmony baritone that looked like solid maple and sounded fantastic.