New 1940’s mystery Archtop!

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by Fretting out, Jun 15, 2021.

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  1. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    Gibson did not make Old Kraftsman guitars. Kay did.
     
  2. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

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    Old Kraftsman (house brand of the Spiegel mailorder company) guitars WERE made by Gibson for a few years in the early/mid-1930s!
    Regal also produced some; from the late 1930s till the 1960s they were then made by Kay.
     
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  3. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    @Fretting out ya done good, buddy! That is a looker, and if it plays and sounds half as good as it looks...

    I love a good guitar mystery, and I've enjoyed reading this thread. I know the Harmony brand best. My Dad had 3 Harmony made guitars throughout the '60s into the early '70s. I associate those segmented/stencil-style f-holes with the '30s and '40s, but again that's more with Harmony brand.

    I don't personally know the history of the Metro brand or the Concerto model, but I think I see in the third pic you posted something might yield another clue. Looking through the f-hole on the left/bass side, I see what appears to be stamped information on the inside of the back of the guitar.

    Harmony did this with their guitars, the model and serial numbers on the bass side, and a date stamp on the right side. For example, in my Harmony Broadway, looking through that f-hole on the left/bass side, you see "1286 H954." H954 was the catalog model number of the Broadway. The four digits prior to the model # has been called a "batch number" with unknown significance. It seems logical to me to take this number to mean the 1,286th unit produced to that point in the production year. It has been said that in the last three decades of the Harmony brand (1945-1975), they produced 10 million guitars. If so, it's believable to me that they could have produced several thousand Broadway models in 1953.

    And looking through the f-hole on the right/treble side, by the pickguard, is stamped "F-53." The date stamps always began with either an "F" or an "S". Different theories have been advanced as to the significance of the letters. One was that "F" stood for Fall and "S" stood for Spring. However, one Chicago factory worker interviewed stated that the production year was divided in two, and that "F" stood for the First half of the production year, with "S" standing for the Second half.

    For a long time I believed the first theory, until I read the theory based on a factory worker's testimony. That sounds more plausible to me. Either way, the "53" is the year my Broadway was made, and I have the same born on date, so it's my birthyear guitar.

    I bring all this up not to highjack the thread to discuss a different brand, but because I think it applies in your case. I saw in that aforementioned third pic what looked like stamped information. I copied your pic, enlarged and rotated it, and it looks like this...

    upload_2021-6-16_19-41-2.png

    Of course, you could see this more clearly. I was just bringing up the point because whoever made your guitar, it seems they followed a similar practice of stamping information inside their guitars. It might help you determine a model # or batch # or date stamp.
     
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  4. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    I’m surprised you saw it, interesting enough I was just watching your video on the dog thread of you playing your harmony with Bella in view

    It’s stamped 3428, that’s the only marking I can see

    I’m wondering if it could be a 1934 or if the number means something else

    I was thinking it was from the 40’s originally but am now siding more on the 30’s

    I think another member might be on track with it maybe being made by regal

    I think it’s really cool considering it may be close to 90 years old, also if it’s from that time period that puts it in the depression and was probably a pretty penny at the time

    As others have mentioned looking them up I’ve found one thats the same and one with a different headstock, so I guess there’s at least 3

    It’s amazing how many off-brand/catalog brands were made back then
     
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  5. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Serendipity. Bella is a cutie, and that night in our trailer was my first night with my Broadway.

    As for spotting that stamp in yours, anytime I see a pic of an old archtop, I look for a view that gives a glimpse through the f-holes into the body of the guitar. Your pics were good, and "3428" is what I thought the number read. But without knowing the significance of that particular number, it's impossible to say for certain if that's a date stamp. I did not know of the Metro brand before seeing this thread, but I have no reason to dispute the claim of it being made by Regal. Whoever made it, whenever it was made, whether close to 80 or 90 years ago, it's really cool.

    BTW, my Harmony Broadway also came with a nice plush-lined hardshell case designed to accommodate an archtop. I don't know the brand, but it's a nice one. And I paid $380 total for mine. I don't know if that's in the same ballpark as what you paid, but I felt like I got a heckuva good deal for mine.
     
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  6. comfortcove

    comfortcove TDPRI Member

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    I have two similar archtops that were OEM'ed by Gibson for Montgomery-Ward, 1935 and 1936. Great guitars, based on Gibson's L1.

    Do they sound like Gibsons? Yes they do. But a lot of corners were cut, mostly cosmetic.
     
  7. tombob

    tombob Tele-Holic

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    The binding is similar to some Harmonys I’ve seen but the rest doesn’t look like a Harmony to me. Overall I would guess it was made by Regal but that’s just a guess going by the headstock and a few cosmetics. I’ve got a Marwin Deluxe I’ve always wanted to know more about, I think Harmony might have made the Marwins. It has a one piece Birdseye maple back, big arch in the top and back and little “rubies” in the face of the headstock. It’s a real odd guitar.
     
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  8. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Tele-Meister

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    That is beautiful! IDK who made it but I do know that Kay and Harmony both made guitars for retailers and used names that the retailer specified or was happy with like Sear's brand Silvertone. From wikipedia "Kay was also a prolific manufacturer of guitars for retailers across the nation who would order instruments with custom branding to be resold as "house brand" instruments. "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." That said the name Metro isn't listed under either unless it was one of the "and others" mentioned above. I see someone posted about German made instruments and it might be one of those. Is there anything visible inside the guitar shine a flashlight through one F hole and look through the other F hole. I don't know what you paid but it looks like a very cool find to me.
     
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  9. Marblatx

    Marblatx Tele-Meister

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    There's a couple on Reverb going for $800 plus.
     
  10. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Afflicted

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    The f-holes give it a Kay/Harmony vibe...but since it's not in the process of disintegrating and/or caving in on itself, it may not be either of those.
     
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  11. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    So THAT'S where they came from! Thanks for that "Useful Trivia of the Day".
     
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  12. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    The only thing inside is a serial number and I can tell that the back is laminated, probably the sides too

    I didn’t want to admit it but I paid that much but figured just the case is probably worth about 400 or more with them being listed on reverb for between 6-700 dollars

    So I figure it was okay as 400 for the case and 400 for the guitar

    At least that’s how I justified it
     
  13. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

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    About the theory that it might be German:
    I doubt that. The decorations on this guitar have a definite Art Deco vibe - which means that it was most likely made in the early/mid 1930s.
    There weren't a lot of German guitars, particularly archtops, made during that time (after all, jazz & swing music was forbidden by the Nazis).
    The German guitar industry only really got going after WW II, when most of the German-speaking luthiers from the Schönbach region (a pre-war hub of instrument manufacture) fled to West Germany after Silesia became part of Communist Czechoslovakia, and after "American" music was popularized by US occupation forces.
    Also, almost all German-made archtops have a zero fret - which this guitar doesn't.
     
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  14. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    you seem to be well studied in these guitars do you think it could be likely that the 3428 serial could be the year? Maybe 1934?

    Or is it more likely that its a coincidence that it was probably made in the 30’s and has a serial that starts like that?
     
  15. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

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    Frankly, I have no idea...
    Most manufacturers (with the exception of CF Martin) during that period didn't use consistent numbering systems...
    But the whole style points to it being made during the 1930s, could very well be that it's from 1934.

    You could try the "Vintage Archtop' group on Facebook, or the forum at www.jazzguitar.be, people there might know more!
     
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  16. Deaf Eddie

    Deaf Eddie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    My vote goes for a Harmony, branded specifically for a certain retailer. The segmented F-holes and serial number stamping say Harmony factory to me. No clue on the "name brand" or logo...
     
  17. brashboy

    brashboy Tele-Meister

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    Nice, congrats. If you don't bond with it, someone will want it.
     
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  18. Jay Jernigan

    Jay Jernigan Tele-Afflicted

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    I have absolutely no judgement to make on the price and I don't know anything about the the guitar except that I love it.
     
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  19. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    On a not so educated guess I think it’s from around the mid 30’s

    The backs and sides are laminated so I’m not sure if that’s a clue whether it has a carved top or not, it’s not 100% uniform so may be carved?

    I think the case was bought later 50’s but this guitar has seemed to live in it since the case was new

    I’m not sure how to tell the cases age, maybe the color of the lining and the amount of “feet” on it could be a clue
     
  20. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    Can you take a close up of the tuners on your harmony?

    They appear to be vary similar to what replaced mine
     
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