Harmony vs Gibson archtops

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by TheCheezyTeen, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. TheCheezyTeen

    TheCheezyTeen Tele-Meister

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    I'm browsing for old archtops. How do the Harmony archtops hold up to Gibsons? L-48, L-50 etc.

    Thanks
     
  2. SheldonP

    SheldonP Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    Not very well. While some are quite playable instruments, the construction and materials are not even close to comparable in most cases. In general they're going to have less projection, less bottom end and uber chunky necks. Not all, just in general. Most Harmony guitars up to the early 60's do not have truss rods. That said, there are a few gems out there. I have an early 60's Kay arch top that's a great guitar. It's funky and clunky and you kinda need to wrestle with it, but it's got a swampy sorta tone that's worth the effort.
     
  3. bingy

    bingy Friend of Leo's

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    No comparison!
    As has been stated, a Gibson will be superior, in all ways.
    That is not to say that the Harmony can't be a functional instrument. In the past they have been used by many pros, semi-pros and folk players.
    If one arrived at my house I would be very happy.
    Of course, I had one as a teenager and couldn't wait to get rid of it.
    /b
     
  4. SamClemons

    SamClemons Poster Extraordinaire

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    Almost every brand had there top of the lines and so did Harmony. They would probably compare with the Gibsons, but so would the price. Most Harmonies are pretty bad. Not a Harmony, but Harmony built is a Silvertone 1446L Fine, fine guitar. But the prices generally run in the 1000-2000 range. You can check out ebay and find some pretty pricy Harmonies.

    Best buys in jazz boxes are the Ibanez, some of the Guilds, and a lot of the old japanese copies from the 70's
     
  5. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    I like my harmony--lucky enough to find one with a straight neck. I can dial in great low action. Changed the tuners, so it keeps tune well also. $190 well spent.

    But it is nowhere in the league of a Gibson quality guitar.

    It does have it's own very boxy sound, which is nice.
     
  6. brianswindall

    brianswindall Tele-Afflicted

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    A Harmony Meteor would be top of the line, I would guess. Not even close to a Gibson. Still, a great instrument but Gibson set the standard.
     
  7. SheldonP

    SheldonP Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    I think the reason the 1446 is so expensive is because Chris Isaak plays one sometimes. Even the top of the line Harmony stuff is really marginal at best. The pictures look pretty, but when you actually examine and play one, the differences between them and any good quality archtop are glaringly evident. They compare more to a really, really low end Epi or Gretsch of the same period, and still aren't really even that good.
     
  8. gjman65

    gjman65 TDPRI Member

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    A lot of bands these days are using these second teir vintage models because of the popularity of guys like Jack White and Dan Auerbach using Airline and Silvertone guitars. Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes uses a Harmony Rocket regularly for recording and touring. The best thing about these guitars is that they are still relatively affordabe for a vintage guitar, but the prices continue to rise because they have become hipster/steam punk favorites. But still not anywhere the quality of a Gibson. If buying one over the internet I would feel so much more confident in purchasing a Gibson but probably wouldn't get much sleep buying a Harmony until it arrived and I had a chance to play it.

    Having said all that, I think Harmony guitars are cool.
     
  9. mbell75

    mbell75 Tele-Meister

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    Ill go against the grain here, I prefer Harmony. Not only can you get two (or several) for the price of one Gibson, the DeArmond pick ups (especially the gold foils) are better than any pick up Gibson has ever made IMO.
     
  10. BopT

    BopT Tele-Afflicted

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    I just would rather play one great guitar than a dozen good guitars. That is why I like a vintage Gibson.
     
  11. SamClemons

    SamClemons Poster Extraordinaire

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    I had a 1446 and a gibson for years. The 1446 will stand its own very well against a Gibson. Some of the other best Harmonies will compete with the Gibsons, but 99.999% arn't in the same league. Most guitar companies had one offs, special runs, promotional models, endorsement models that are far and above the norm. Someone started a Cort thread also. Don't know about the one listed, but Cort has sold some very expensive guitars over the years, special, custom models. I see some of my favorite artist being endorsed by Epiphone and playing them. I doubt those are off the floor models, but special setup one offs for the artist.
     
  12. mad dog

    mad dog Friend of Leo's

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    I just part traded for a Harmony made Silvertone 1427, with P-13 pickups. In the shop now getting some work done. Had it for just a short time before it went in the shop. A really nice feel to this guitar. This would be one of the higher end ones, going for bigger bucks. It's not a Gibson for sure. But it has its own thing going on. (And way cheaper than a vintage Gibson.) Plus some cool features (25.5" scale, those very cool P-13 pickups.) You won't find those pickups on a Gibson, though I believe Gibson actually invented the p/us, which are precursors to P-90s. Then soon after came up with the P-90, farmed out their inventory of P-13s by selling the whole lot to Harmony.

    Another reason the 1446L is valued is the Gibson minihums it came stock with. Tasty pickups. I find that neck a bit narrow though ...

    MD
     
  13. TheCheezyTeen

    TheCheezyTeen Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, guys. Your replies are really helpful, it's a jungle of old archtops out there.

    What would be a good archtop to look for at around $1000? Or alternatively, what is a decent L-50 worth?

    I don't really play jazz, but I like the sound of Freddie Green pounding out chords. I'm looking for something that would work mainly for recording some peculiar guitar parts. And perhaps as an eye catcher at gigs.

    I'm thinking of getting one with no pickups and perhaps installing a Johnny Smith pickup or something similar.
     
  14. Shango66

    Shango66 Friend of Leo's

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    I had an old L50 Gibson, nice, well made guitar.
    I used it in the Freddie Greene style when playing in a big band.
    It really needed to be mic d tho.
    I don't think a JS pickup would fit on this model as there isnt enough clearance between strings and body at the end of the neck.

    Freddie played an old Gretsch.
    Gretsch make or made a model that they named the jimmy Vaughan arch top.
    This might get you in the ballpark.
     
  15. Ed Miller

    Ed Miller Tele-Meister

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    If you are looking for an acoustic archtop generally, unless its a Gibson, maybe an old Epiphone, possibly a Gretsch-- its gonna be a money pit. I had a customer drop about four hundred bucks into a harmony , Neck reset and touch up, heat press on neck plus a refret and a set up. Without a good truss rod, it was mediocre at best.

    Polishing a turd just makes the corn and peanuts more obvious.
     
  16. flyswatter

    flyswatter Friend of Leo's

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    You might want to check out some of the offerings from Eastwood Guitars. I know a couple of pro-level players who use the Harmony/ Airline reissues and they are good guitars. Eastwood bases their models on old "second tier" classics like Harmony but upgrade the specs to modern player quality. YouTube has a bunch of Eastwood demos by R.J. Ronquilo, who's both a great player and tries out some Harmony-esque models.

    http://www.eastwoodguitars.com/guitars-1/

     
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