The Amateur Luthier

Cataloging my experiences and encounters repairing and restoring guitars

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Vibraphone serial badge Image Credit:  Reverb - King Louie Music About Jen-Co Musical Products (JMP) was an Illinois-based manufactu...

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Image Credit: Reverb - King Louie Music

About

Jen-Co Musical Products (JMP) was an Illinois-based manufacturer of musical instruments located in Decatur (just west of Springfield). The company is often mispelled as Jenco Musical Products. The company was founded by owner G. C. Jenkins shortly after the first World War and his son, James B. Jenkins, later became owner. They were located at 1014 East Olive St. in Decatur, IL and their factory occupied 44,000 square feet and had 25 employees in 1959. They were the world's largest producer of mallet-played musical instruments in '59 with glockenspiels being their biggest seller. At the time they had 3,500 dealers in the US and Canada [1]. The company folded sometime prior to 1976 [2].

Guitars

In 1958, they launched their line of solid body guitars under the name of Decar (which I suspect came from the town's name, Decatur). These guitars were built in-house by Jen-Co [1]. Older pot codes may exist depending on when they bought their supply of potentiometers but the line officially launched in '58.

Their guitars follow a similar single cutaway style similar to the Harmony Stratotone or Kay K125 but definitely were not made by either of those manufacturers. This body style is often referred to as the "peanut" shape because of its resemblance to a legume.

Image Credit: Reverb - SS11211
The tuners appear to be generic imports from Japan. Definitely not the Waverly or Kluson tuners that the Chicago manufacturers were known for using. The bridges appear to be custom built as well and resemble nothing else that was being mass produced from that era. The bodies have Formica veneers on the front and back with a faux-wood finish. The pickguards are also apparently Formica. There also does not appear to be a truss rod in any of the guitars so that doesn't bode well for the playability of the instrument.

These guitars can be seen with DeArmond "hershey bar" pickups (common on Harmony instruments) or Kay "pancake" pickups. I've not heard of Kay selling their pickups to other builders so this is curious. The potentiometers are Stackpole.

I stumbled across a Reverb listing for a NOS pickguard for a Harmony H-16 Bobkat and the description mentioned that he got this as a samp...


I stumbled across a Reverb listing for a NOS pickguard for a Harmony H-16 Bobkat and the description mentioned that he got this as a sample from his time at the Harmony factory so I reached out to him.

This is my email interview with Kenneth B. who was an employee at the Harmony Musical Instruments factory from 1966-1975 and was gracious enough to entertain my questions.


October 1st, 2019

Do you play any instruments?
Yes. Believe it or not, I am a sax player. 

How did you find out about the job and how old were you?
I was 24 years of age when I walked through the back door looking for a job since I just graduated from DePaul University of Chicago. It was difficult finding work since I was eligible for the draft and the Vietnam crisis was in full swing. For whatever reason, Harmony was willing to take a chance on me. I was drafted within a year, but returned to continue my job functions at The Harmony Co. after serving 2 years in the military. 

What was your role at Harmony?
I was an assistant to the Vice President of Purchasing and Manufacturing. My main function was Purchasing.

Do you still work with instruments?
No, I am retired. I still play gigs on saxophone though.

What were some of your favorite experiences?
Working with the people at the Company. I found it to be one happy family. Also, I enjoyed meeting and working with the vendors from whom I purchase supplies.

What were some of your least favorite experiences?
The closing of the Company. I attended one of the days of the auction of completed musical instruments, machinery, parts, veneer, etc,, 
 
What was your opinion of the Kay Musical Instrument company?
Kay was our largest competitor. I saw the music industry as a friendly industry since companies would help each other when possible. I even got a request, which we fulfilled, from the Gibson Company for some celluloid the need for pick guards. Just a side note, we did not want to see Kay go out of business because the effect would mean more instruments arriving in this Country from overseas.

I hope I have answered the above questions to your satisfaction. You can ask more questions, but you must remember that it has been over 40 years since I left the Company so I may not have all the answers to your questions.


October 14th, 2019

How long have you been playing the saxophone? What kind of music do you play? Do you have a band?
Playing sax for about 65 years. Play some jazz and R n'R. The band I was part of, just broke up. That's show business.

What did your role entail? What was a typical day like?
My role entailed purchasing items to keep a manufacturing plant afloat, from lumber to toilet paper. I was also involved in testing new vendor items such as an adhesive or sandpaper, new type of coating, etc.
A typical day would be reviewing manufacturing orders against inventory of parts and raw materials.

Did you manage ordering parts, wood, or pickups from suppliers? 
Yes.

I believe I've heard that Kluson had their own catalogs for their tuners but I have only ever seen one on the internet, did they have like a catalog for purchasing their machines?
They did have a catalog. 

The I believe I've heard that Kluson had their own catalogs for their tuners but I have only ever seen one on the internet, did they have like a catalog for purchasing their machines?
Yes. The only parts I purchased from Kluson were banjo parts such as the 5th string tuner plus nuts and bolts which attached the ring which held the head to the banjo shell.

When did Harmony switch away from using Brazilian Rosewood and to Indian Rosewood?
I really can't say.

Did you interact with any of the businesses who purchased Harmony guitars for their own distribution?
Not really. That was handled by the Sales Department.

If so, was there a separate stage in production where guitars were custom branded?
I would not say that there was a separate stage since certain types of guitar went through the same stages. A work order would call out the differences on the instruments and those differences would take place in the same areas of the regular Harmony lines.

Was there an attitude shift into the 70s as more import guitars were pouring in from Japan? I believe that Harmony Opus guitars were some of their last attempts to compete. 
It was a line to compete against the higher priced guitars in the field. Here is a piece of trivia, I came up with the "Opus" name for the new line of guitars.

I plan to pick up on the rest of your questions hopefully later this week. Need to run
now. The Chicago Blackhawks are on the air.


October 18th, 2019

At the auction, did it appear to be mostly businesses or hobbyists that were buying up parts? I can only imagine what happened to all that stock of wood and guitars
Mainly business men.

Did Harmony build some of their own tuning machines and tailpieces in house?
Harmony did not build their own tuning machines. As far as tailpieces go Harmony had dies for a couple and purchased others from the outside.

That surprised me about Gibson looking for pickguard material, did you know why they couldn't keep up with demand?
The supplier could have been backlogged and lead times were long if they were out of stock, which I think was the case that I recall.

Do you have any memorabilia, documents, photos, or catalogs from your time at Harmony? One of my hobbies is digitizing items from daily life that most people overlook because I think it provides great insight into the past.
The only catalog I had is long gone. I have no photos. However, at a Barnes & Nobles I saw in a book containing many guitar manufacturers, a photo of a giant Harmony guitar, largest in the world at that time, exhibited at the NAMM show. Besides from a couple of Christmas gifts from the company, in our house we have an Opus style guitar, a Harmony electric guitar, Roy Smeck model, and a prototype 12 string guitar, only 2 of this model were made, as one of the choices for Fender's "F" series. There was another prototype made which Fender chose for their line. Unfortunately, the one we have does not have the Fender name screened on the headpiece since it was not a production item, only a prototype. At that time, we most likely did not have the artwork for the Fender logo from which to produce a silkscreen.

I thought of another highlight which I should have mentioned earlier which is astounding, I think. Harmony was producing about 2500 banjos per year. When the movie "Deliverance" which contained the song "Dueling Banjos" was released, it created a craze for banjos. We had one heck of a time trying to get enough parts to build banjos. Harmony went from building 2500 per year to 2500 per week near the end of the run. It was hectic, but it was fun. What a ride!


October 28th, 2019

Dueling Banjos is actually what inspired me to try and pick up the banjo, I didn't stick to it as well as I could've haha. That is astounding that banjos picked up to that degree especially so late in Harmony's lifespan. Have you heard of the newest iteration of the Harmony brand? Hand built guitars from Kalamazoo, MI that resemble some of the classics from back in the day. Here is their website, https://www.harmony.co/. Have you also heard of Baxendale conversions? Their business model consists of obtaining old Harmony and Kay guitars, converting them to X-bracing, rebuilding them, and selling them as a "greener" alternative to purchasing a new instrument. Plus you get the authenticity of having an instrument built from old wood which people seem to prize.
Thanks for bringing the above to my attention. Since I am not a guitar player nor any longer in the industry I do not keep up or hear much of the news on the Harmony name. However I did check a little bit of the Harmony website and it was quite obvious that these were not "original" Harmony's nor are exact duplicates. The pickups were a dead giveaway. Their warranty is for 2 years. The "real" Harmony company warranted their instruments for a lifetime. They were very confident about the quality of their instruments.


I thought it was pretty great that you came up with the Opus name, how did you pitch that? Were they looking for a name for a new line of instruments?
The president (Mandel Kapland) at one of our staff meetings requested that we summit names for this new line of guitars. I handed a list of names and the name Opus was chosen. He jumped on that one almost immediately.


How and why did Harmony get a hold of Gibson pickups like the wide-range humbucker and the P-13 for some of the semi-hollow models? Especially since most Harmony instruments used DeArmond as their pickup supplier.
Sorry, but that was before my time. I have no idea. 


Do you understand the meaning of the stamps inside Harmony instruments? I know there is always a model stamp like 1234H5678 where H5678 is the model and 1234 is something unrelated like a batch number.
You hit the nail on the head with this one: model number followed by the work order number. In this way the instrument could be traced all the way back to its final assembly, date, lot, etc. 

 Then there is F-67 which means the instrument was built in Fall of 1967 if I recall correctly. I've also seen letters follow the number too but I can't figure out what they mean. So like F-67 AB or something or that nature, I might have a picture somewhere of what I'm talking about.
Where did you see this type of number? I know there was a number inside the "back" of the instrument. I don't recall what the designation "F-67" means but the letters, such a the "AB", which would be at the end on the inside back are the initials  of the person who did the final inspection of the instrument.


Have you had any contact with any former employees since the company shut down?
Yes. Unfortunately, I lost contact with Mr. Edward Wozniak who was the chief designer and you could also say chief engineer for many years at the Harmony Company. As a matter-of-fact, he is pictured with the large Harmony guitar I have mentioned, in one of the guitar history type books I saw at a "Barnes and Nobles" book store. He knew more about the Harmony instruments than anyone in the company. I tried to keep in touch with a couple of others whom I have seen periodically.  

PS. I have enjoyed sharing these Harmony experiences with you and glad to hear someone is still interested in what was the largest musical stringed manufacturer in the world. Hope you get plenty of enjoyment out of your Harmony "Rocket".  I will see what I can do about getting photos of the 2 Harmony instruments I presently own along with a photo of a mounting plate with 2 mounted DeArmond pickups from the H.N. Rowe Company.


October 30th, 2019

Regarding tuners, I've seen this style of tuning machine on many, many instruments from Kay and Harmony. They aren't Klusons and you mentioned that Harmony didn't make them in house, do you know where they came from? The only other tuner manufacturer from that era that I know of is Waverly out of New York
Waverly was the manufacturer that sold most of the tuners used by the Harmony Company.

Here is another bit of trivia. when Regal was going out of business, Harmony bought the Regal name. If I remember correctly, the acoustics that we briefly made for Fender used the Regal name.

Image Credit:  Live Auctioneers I found this interesting box in an online auction for a Harmony Patrician being sold in Florida and figu...

Image Credit: Live Auctioneers
I found this interesting box in an online auction for a Harmony Patrician being sold in Florida and figured I'd document it since there appears to be no other reference to it on the internet.

Timi's Studio
Tortoise Shell Originals
Tetuan 200
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Genuine Tortoise Shell
Made In Puerto Rico by Timi's

Image Credit: Live Auctioneers

That was enough information for me to begin my search into trying to find the origins of the business. The Articles of Incorporation for the business through Puerto Rico's website refers to the business as "Timi's Tortoise Shell Originals." 

Image Credit: Puerto Rico - Registry of Corporations and Entities
The business appeared to be owned by John and Margaret Timiriasieff and was established in 1954 and continued operation until 1973 when CITES banned the trade of tortoise shell and the business likely folded. A third founding employee, Julio T. Rodriguez, is also mentioned as owning a single share. 

The business received notices about failure to renew in the 1990s but it took until 2014 for the name to be revoked.

Image Credit: Puerto Rico - Registry of Corporations and Entities
The business name was revoked in 2014.

Mr and Mrs Timiriasieff both passed in the 1990s according to public records. 










Image Credit: Mine Background The 1930s were the era of elegant, art deco inspired guitars and the rise of stenciling as a finishing ...

Image Credit: Mine

Background

The 1930s were the era of elegant, art deco inspired guitars and the rise of stenciling as a finishing technique. Thousands of instruments were styled with lacquer as a cheaper alternative to more complicated carving and higher quality or figured woods. This led into the trend in the 40s and 50s of cowboy stenciled guitars which, if you're interested, I would highly recommend this site: http://www.cowboyguitars.net/

These instruments mainly appear in the Continental Music catalogs from the era but they likely exist for a number of Kay distributors

Construction

These rare Kay guitars are most easily identifiable by their unique lyre soundhole shape which some folks may refer to as a harp shape (if they are unfamiliar with lyres). It is cut out of the laminated wood top and is more of a stylistic decision than one motivated by tone. The top is separated into sections by a painted diamond which features a sunburst on the outside and a faux-flame tiger stripe on the inside. The top is ladder braced and so a structural problem will be the sinking of the top around the soundhole when strung up to tension. 

Two variants of this instrument's headstock exist.
  1. Gibson-esque "open book" headstock
  2. Harmony-esque "rounded point" headstock 

When Were They Built?

Image Credit: [Wright 170]
The great book, Guitar Stories: The Histories of Cool Guitars. Vol. 2, lists them as being built from 1937-1938.

Two scans from a 1939 Continental Music Catalog show the No.2091 (with the open book headstock) and a sister model, the No.5400 (with the rounded headstock). The No.5400 has the lyre soundhole but does not have the extensive stenciling. 



The open book headstock profile with the Kay DeLuxe label is a design used by Kay in the 1930s and is gone by '44. The yellow and red label disappeared by the end of the 1930s

Image Credit: Mine

By 1942, the open book headstock vanishes from the lower end models (the K-60 and K-62 still sport it) and the rounded headstock profile takes over.

These Kay guitars lack the lyre soundhole design but have similar stenciling and thus are still representative of the design choices of the factory.
Image Credit: VintAxe - 1942 Continental Music Catalog

The rounded point headstock shape began, at the latest, in 1938 and continued throughout the 1940s. The blue shield logo can be found in a variety of instruments from the 1940s and is one of the traits to look for when dating an instrument to that era.
Image Credit: VintageGuitar.com

Conclusion

Models: 2091, 5400
Years built: [1937-1939]


The open book headstock profile and/or  mustard yellow/red label denotes an earlier build of the lyre soundhole series of Kay guitars. The rounded headstock profile and/or a blue label denotes a later build shifting into the 1940s.

Sources

Wright, Michael. Guitar Stories: The Histories of Cool Guitars. Vol. 2, Vintage Guitar Books, 2000.



Image Credit:  Reverb - Rock n Roll Vintage Masterson guitars were built by Ernest Leroy Masterson (1915-2006) out of Nappanee, Indiana...

Image Credit: Reverb - Rock n Roll Vintage
Masterson guitars were built by Ernest Leroy Masterson (1915-2006) out of Nappanee, Indiana in the 70s [2]. His main job was as a spray painter for kitchen cabinets while employed at Coppes Inc but he also taught guitar and built instruments for extra income [1][3]. 

Image Credit: Reverb - Rock n Roll Vintage

Estate Auction Finds

I stumbled across a 2017 auction in Nappanee, Indiana from the estate of a Mr Robert R Hall through Schrader Real Estate Auctions. These instruments were in his collection and were auctioned off for unknown prices. I found a pdf of a flier advertising this auction where they list the instruments that are for sale in no particular order. 

Masterson (Nappanee) Indian 6 string electric guitar 
• Electric Wood guitar 6 string
• Encore 6 string child’s Acoustic guitar
• Wood 6 string Acoustic guitar, no brand
• Blueridge 6 string guitar with case
• Electric wood guitar with case
• Rival Hondo Electric 6 string guitar with case
Standard Masterson (Nappanee) 6 string Electric guitar 
• Hondo 2 Electric guitar with case
Masterson (Nappanee) Base guitar with case (Blue) 

Schrader Auction Flier [4]

  • The light blue Fender P-bass copy is the only bass guitar in the flier and is mentioned by color so we can confirm it is a Masterson build.
  • The middle instrument is a Hondo II semi-hollow Gibson copy which can be distinguished by the headstock and tailpiece and matches the flier's mention of a Hondo II.
  • The naturally finished Gibson Les Paul copy has a brand but is unreadable. Possibly a Masterson build

Image Credit: Schrader Real Estate Auctions

There are now two more instruments:

  • A Fender Stratocaster copy in natural. It has a brand but it is unreadable.
  • A homebuilt body with a Stratocaster-styled neck.
The Stratocaster copy looks most like something that Ernest Masterson would build since his body designs closely followed contemporary instruments.

Image Credit: Schrader Real Estate Auctions

Next we have three acoustics and an electric guitar.

  • The leftmost instrument is the Blueridge acoustic as it looks professionally built and like a typical generic acoustic.
  • The second from left appears to be a homebuilt instrument but looks too sloppy to have been built by Masterson. 
  • The second from the right is a Japanese guitar which I can identify by the "steel reinforced neck" sticker where the truss rod cover should be and matches the flier for an "Encore childs guitar"
  • The guitar on the far right is an Electra which were made for St Louis Music out of Japan. I can recognize the headstock logo and the body shape.
  • Image Credit: Schrader Real Estate Auctions

Finally the flier mentioned a "Rival Hondo" and there was a picture of a Gibson ES-335 copy, I dug and discovered the Hondo "Revival" line of instruments including that instrument so I won't include the photo here. Not a Masterson build.

Other Examples

On the internet, I've seen a few references to his instruments and that he used to teach guitar lessons [3]. All the information has been from locals of the town which implies that he didn't ship his instruments out across the US but that he kept them local.


Sources


First I started with a blank of Indian Rosewood which had came from a beam that I bought, ripped into bridge blanks, and waxed the ends t...

First I started with a blank of Indian Rosewood which had came from a beam that I bought, ripped into bridge blanks, and waxed the ends to prevent splitting. I took the original, fragile, ebonized wood bridge and traced an outline onto the block with a pencil. Then I used a knife to score along the lines to help make them more visible. 

I took the bridge to my bandsaw to rough cut along the marked lines and start on removing the material for the gap underneath the bridge. I also cut and sanded the bridge to the desired thickness of just a hair under 1/4". At this point I also marked the points on the bottom of the bridge where my screw posts are to be located. Then I placed the bridge upside down on my drill press and drilled both holes through the bridge stopping just short of going through the bridge as I don't want them to be visible through the top

Then I began to round off some of the corners, remove most of the wood for the bottom gap, and start to shape the bottom of the bridge to the top of my guitar. I shape the bridge to the guitar by placing a sheet of 80 or 120 grit sandpaper on the top, holding it in place, and running the bridge back and forth across it lengthwise. That removes just the right amount of material so the bridge fits perfectly on the top which helps transfer energy and resists side to side moving. I also run the bridge on my belt sander to start tapering the long edges towards the top like an isosceles trapezoid. 

Then I separated the pieces of the bridge by running it through my bandsaw. Notice the screw holes are perfectly aligned because I drilled before cutting the bridge. I've also begun to rough out the compensation for the strings and tapering the bridge even stronger towards the top to form a point

I've oiled the wood and begun to polish it to a shine starting with 220 grit and ending with 3000 grit dry sandpaper. While still in the rough grits, I lightly dampen the wood with water to raise the grain and sand it off to help achieve a super smooth finish. Then I begin adding oil by rubbing it on then off while continuing to sand. Rosewood takes oil very well and can be polished to a point where it looks shiny.

I use Dr Ducks Axe Wax for this purpose and general maintenance of my guitar fretboards

Here is the bridge sat atop my Harmony Rocket. I used the thumb wheels from the old bridge and some screw posts that I had lying around. Harmony anchored their posts into the top half of the bridge which I don't much like so I reversed it and anchored my posts into the base of the bridge, as is more common. This Indian Rosewood is pretty dark so I think it will match the Brazilian Rosewood fretboard quite well while also being a large structural improvement over the brittle, ebonized bridge.


1953 Advertisement from the St Louis Post Dispatch Newspapers.com Hugo Music Center Hugo Music Center was situated at 5889 Easton Av...

1953 Advertisement from the St Louis Post Dispatch
Newspapers.com

Hugo Music Center

Hugo Music Center was situated at 5889 Easton Avenue at the intersection of Hamilton Boulevard. You cannot find Easton Avenue today because in 1972 it was renamed to Dr Martin Luther King Jr Drive [1]. The building no longer stands as of 2019, likely from a fire in 2016 [5].

Image Credit: Google Maps
I was only able to find legal documents for Hugo Music Inc which was created in 1959 by a Mr Victor E Hugo Jr. Advertisements and other documents point to the business existing for around 10 years prior so this online document might not be the most accurate representation. The business was dissolved in 1971 due to a failure to register the business again so we can assume it had folded no later than that date [2]. 

Image Credit: Missouri Online Business Search [2]
According to public records, Mr Hugo passed away in 2002 at the age of 74 [4].

Fulltone

They sold instruments under the "Fulltone" brand like this 1949 Supro-built lap steel.
1949 Lap Steel. Image Credit: Craigslist

Notable Instruments

According to a forum post on MyLesPaul.com, a 1959 Burst was sold through Hugo Music Center and was attributed by the badge on the original case [3].

Image Credit: [3]

Sources

What was Sunny Shields Music Studio? Charles "Sunny" Dwight Shields (1917-2001) led an orchestra during the late 1930s an...



What was Sunny Shields Music Studio?

Charles "Sunny" Dwight Shields (1917-2001) led an orchestra during the late 1930s and up until he served in the Army during World War II [5][11]. He then founded his business, Sunny Shields Music Inc (commonly misspelled as Sonny) in East St Louis, Illinois during the 40s [1]. His business first appears in the papers in 1948 [13].

NEW YEAR'S EVE DANCE Sho•Boat, Dec. 31 DrenenOn< Sunny SI.leldn and HIn Nninue Dreher.. EIZtii:nrieM,:;2517:11naljuit= ge=1; Adm.: Advance Sale $1 Per Cone].  HOWARD TULEY AND HIS ORCHESTRA Saturday, Jan. 1st Aden..Ion. 75c Den Couple
Moberly Monitor-Index issue from 1937 [11]

[12]


In order to facilitate the teaching of students on guitar, he ordered custom branded instruments to be used by and eventually sold to his students.

St Louis Post Dispatch 1953 [8]
The main office appeared to be located at 1409 State St. East St Louis, Illinois until 1967 when they moved to 402 Missouri Ave. East St Louis, Illinois [9]. The building on State Street still stands but the building on Missouri Avenue has since been demolished.

 Win a  FREE  Music Scholarship  nun SUNNY SHIELDS MUSIC, INC. • Guitar • Drums • Piano • Accordion • Organ  Take Lessons in a Shields Studio Near Your Home  BOYS AND GIRLS ENTER NOW!  Straub  ed Names Contest  A Total of  35 Scholarships  will be awarded S FIRST PRIZES Eight weeks lessons. Use of instrument, lesson ma-terial. 10 SECOND PRIZES Six weeks lessons. Use of In-strument, lesson material. 20 THIRD PRIZES Five weeks lessons. Use of Instrument, lesson material.  FILL OUT OUT ENTRY BLANK AND UNSCRAMBLE NAMES AT RIGHT Listed in the panel at right are the scram-bled names of ten well-known musicians and entertainers. Correctly unscramble the names. For example Eadn Tinmar un-scrambled is Dean Martin. Write unscram-bled name in space provided at right. Fill out entry blank and mail to: Sunny Shields Music, Inc., 402 Missouri Ave., East St. Louis, Ill.  CONTEST OPEN AGES 6 to 18 WITH NO PREVIOUS MUSIC TRAINING  Letters must be postmarked before mid-night, March 8, 1968. Awards will be made on the basis of correctness of solution of the unscrambled names. Frills and fancies will not be considered in judging winners. Names of winners will be announced through the mail. Decision of judges will be final. No en-tries returned.  Take Lessons Near Your Home  Sunny Shields Music Studios  • Belleville • Cahokia • Collinsville • Columbia • East St. Louis • Prairie du Rocher • Waterloo  located at • EDWARDS-VILLE • Granite City • Highland • Mlllstadt • New Athens • Red Bud  Here's All You Have To Do  Unscramble These Names SCRAMBLED NAME CORRECT NAME  Boybb Ardin Honj Lonnen Nycan tranias Veda Larkc  Aulp Rereve Dnay Liliwmas Brndae Ele  La Tirh  Berh Terpal  Jonnyh Thisma  ENTRY BUNK  Sunny Shields Music, Inc. Scrambled Name Contest 402 Missouri Ave., East St. Louis, III. Name   Address  City Age  I would like to play:  vol•• I■ W./  0 Spanish Guitar El Organ ❑ Drums  Hawaiian Guitar 0 Piano ❑ Accordion  Parents signature__----   Sunny Shields Musk, Inc.  Gen. Offices: 402 Missouri Ave. East St. Louis, III.
[7]

In 1956 they boasted 18 years of experience, fifty-thousand lessons in the previous year, 50 instructors, and thousands of students each year as they expanded into Alton, Illinois

 Win a  FREE  Music Scholarship  nun SUNNY SHIELDS MUSIC, INC. • Guitar • Drums • Piano • Accordion • Organ  Take Lessons in a Shields Studio Near Your Home  BOYS AND GIRLS ENTER NOW!  Straub  ed Names Contest  A Total of  35 Scholarships  will be awarded S FIRST PRIZES Eight weeks lessons. Use of instrument, lesson ma-terial. 10 SECOND PRIZES Six weeks lessons. Use of In-strument, lesson material. 20 THIRD PRIZES Five weeks lessons. Use of Instrument, lesson material.  FILL OUT OUT ENTRY BLANK AND UNSCRAMBLE NAMES AT RIGHT Listed in the panel at right are the scram-bled names of ten well-known musicians and entertainers. Correctly unscramble the names. For example Eadn Tinmar un-scrambled is Dean Martin. Write unscram-bled name in space provided at right. Fill out entry blank and mail to: Sunny Shields Music, Inc., 402 Missouri Ave., East St. Louis, Ill.  CONTEST OPEN AGES 6 to 18 WITH NO PREVIOUS MUSIC TRAINING  Letters must be postmarked before mid-night, March 8, 1968. Awards will be made on the basis of correctness of solution of the unscrambled names. Frills and fancies will not be considered in judging winners. Names of winners will be announced through the mail. Decision of judges will be final. No en-tries returned.  Take Lessons Near Your Home  Sunny Shields Music Studios  • Belleville • Cahokia • Collinsville • Columbia • East St. Louis • Prairie du Rocher • Waterloo  located at • EDWARDS-VILLE • Granite City • Highland • Mlllstadt • New Athens • Red Bud  Here's All You Have To Do  Unscramble These Names SCRAMBLED NAME CORRECT NAME  Boybb Ardin Honj Lonnen Nycan tranias Veda Larkc  Aulp Rereve Dnay Liliwmas Brndae Ele  La Tirh  Berh Terpal  Jonnyh Thisma  ENTRY BUNK  Sunny Shields Music, Inc. Scrambled Name Contest 402 Missouri Ave., East St. Louis, III. Name   Address  City Age  I would like to play:  vol•• I■ W./  0 Spanish Guitar El Organ ❑ Drums  Hawaiian Guitar 0 Piano ❑ Accordion  Parents signature__----   Sunny Shields Musk, Inc.  Gen. Offic3s: 402 Missouri Ave. East St. Louis, III.

The above 1968 advertisement from The Edwardsville Intelligencer on March 4th shows that he had locations in Belleville, Cahokia, Collinsville, Columbia, East St. Louis, Prairie du Rocher, Waterloo, Edwardsville, Granite City, Highland, Millstadt, New Athens, and Red Bud. He offered lessons in Spanish guitar, organ, drums, Hawaiian guitar, piano, and accordion [6]. 

Media

A gentleman from Russia named Emir Shabashvili (username: emirko) purchased an old Kodak Bullseye Brownie camera and found undeveloped film which he had developed and scanned [2]. These rare pictures appear to be the only surviving media showing the Sunny Shields Music Studio and the kids who were enrolled. What confirms the photo's origins are the multiple Epiphone guitars visible in the photo with "Dwight" written on the headstock.

Other visible instruments include a Gibson Melody Maker, Kay Value Leader, Gibson ES-125, two Gibson ES-335's, and a Rickenbacker bass.
Photo #1 [2]

Photo #2 [2]

Photo #3 [2]

Photo #4 [2]
A store counter with a Schaum and a Gibson string display

Who made Dwight instruments?

There is a contemporary manufacturer, Clive Brown, who builds Gibson replicas in England and currently owns the rights to the name "Dwight" [14]. His instruments are not related in any way to these Dwight instruments and so they must not be confused.

Epiphone

According to The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide 2010, Epiphone built solid body Coronet models, labelled them "Dwight", and shipped them to Mr Shields. There were 75 built in 1963 and 36 built in 1967 for a grand total of 111 Epiphone guitars [3].

Supro

Valco-built instruments, aka Supro, were also purchased by Mr Shields. He acquired an unknown quantity lap steels during the 50s and 60s [3]. They come up more frequently than their guitar counterparts so we can assume that he purchased more lap steels than guitars.

left: 1959 Supro Belmont branded Dwight on the guard

right: Supro Belmont that I believe is the same instrument
Notice the placement of the Dwight logo on the guard and the pearloid body
Image Credit: Photo #3 (from above)
According to PulseBeatGuitars.com, only 18 Supro-built guitars were ever branded "Dwight" for sale by Shields. They all appear to be the Belmont models and were built from 1959-1960. They can have the branding on the headstock, the pickguard, or the upper bass side bout. 

1960 Supro Belmont (T29479) branded Dwight
Image Credit: Myself

1960 Supro Belmont branded Dwight on the upper bout
Image Credit: Myself


Existing Examples

These are all the Supro-built Dwight guitars that I can find with their serial numbers, color scheme, and last known sightings. 
  1. T18984 - Red Pearloid - Reverb - Southside Guitars
  2. T29479 - Red Pearloid - Driftwood Music
  3. T32770 - Red Pearloid - Private Collection 
  4. T48739 - Red - Ebay - Rocket City Guitars
  5. T57745 - Red - Guitar Database Wiki
  6. ? - Red - Pulse Beat Guitars
  7. ? - Red - Youtube - Billy Barnett
  8. ? - Red - Commenter on above video claims to have one
  9. ? - Red - Private Collection (FB-JK)
PulseBeatGuitars.com claims that Keith Richards owns a white Supro Dwight and is pictured with it but I researched the photo and the original website claims it is a "Supro Dual Tone" with no mention of "Dwight" [15]. I can find no evidence to support the claim that his model is branded Dwight or that the Dual Tone model ever bore such branding.

Accordions

Dwight accordions were imported from Italy for his students.

Ebay [10]

Amplifiers

Dwight branded amplifiers were built by Epiphone and are branded versions of typical Epiphone products.
Image Credit: Reverb - Acme Guitars

Sources:

This is a Harmony H-1422 which was branded as an S.S. Stewart model 7004 for distribution by Buegeleisen & Jacobson. As of the authoring...

This is a Harmony H-1422 which was branded as an S.S. Stewart model 7004 for distribution by Buegeleisen & Jacobson. As of the authoring of this article, H-1422 does not exist in the DeMont Harmony Database and only a few examples appear on the internet.




This particular instrument has a floral decal applied to the upper bass bout which I inspected closely and determined to be quite old. Whoever placed it there did so a very long time ago and must've lacquered over it because it exhibits checking. Was it a special order from the factory? Can't really know but its definitely not a recent addition. Unfortunately the instrument was oversprayed and polished so its glossy but there are some visible drips on the sides and the original nitro lacquer is hiding beneath. It was done adequately so I have no intention of trying to remove it.


Age

This instrument does not have a visible date stamp within the body so any dating will have to be done through what I can observe and what I can compare against.

Image Credit: VintAxe

This is a scan from a 1940 B&J catalog showing this model of instrument and the description states "natural color mahogany throughout". No Harmony catalog scans exist from the 1930s unfortunately.



The tuning machines are Waverly and I have the exact set on a 1936 Harmony I own (confirmed via date stamp). All my post-1940 Harmony guitars have had Kluson tuners or the generic bell-end tuners. I've done some research on Reverb listings and as far as I can tell, Harmony started moving away from Waverly in the 1930s and then went entirely to Kluson in the 1940s.

The fretboard has two slots cut in it which are visible from the dovetail and the nut which I believe are to accommodate two steel reinforcing rods running parallel down the neck. The neck is also extremely responsive to magnets, more so than my other guitars that I know have a single bar. My theory is also supported by a 193(6 or 8) Harmony Supertone, which I owned, that had two parallel steel reinforcing rods.

Construction


The neck is very light colored mahogany, steel reinforced, and with grafted headstock wings. The fretboard is a slab of gorgeous Brazilian Rosewood with the typical 1-2-1-2 inlay dot pattern. The frets were small, vintage-style and terribly worn so I replaced them for my restoration.



The back and sides are solid Mahogany and the top is also solid Mahogany. A typical, winning combination for a pre-war archtop from Harmony.



The top has the typical parallel tone bar bracing that you'd expect to find on an archtop from this era but the back has ladder bracing like a flat top. I've seen that back bracing on a 1930s Kay-built Old Kraftsman and believe it indicates a solid wood back.

Markings

Model No 7004
Serial No 2633
4187H1422