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Chicago c.1960 Image Credit This list is the culmination of research I have found and done on guitars built in Chicago during the 20th c...

Kay, Harmony, and Regal Brand Names In the 20th Century

Chicago c.1960
Image Credit

This list is the culmination of research I have found and done on guitars built in Chicago during the 20th century. It is my attempt to piece together the brand names and manufacturers to better help the community of guitar players and collectors. Not all of this information is mine and some of it is unsourced (better citations are on the manufacturer specific pages) so I don't claim to be the original source for everything, just the guy that compiled it all. A few shoutouts to JediStar.com, Harmony.DeMont.com, Jake Wildwood, Reverb, and more

Kay Specific Brands and Photos
Harmony Specific Brands and Photos


Brand
Distributor
Built By
Years Active
Notes
Kay
Harmony
Regal
A. Rogers
Selmer UK
Y
1940s
Airline
Montgomery Ward
Y
Y
1958-1968
Alden
Aldens
Y
1960s
Aloha
Y
1930s
Ambassador
Y
Y
1930s
Arch Kraft
Vitak-Elsnic Co
Y
1933-1937
Armstrong
Y
1940s
Barclay
Unity Buying Service
Y
Y
1950s-1960s
Beltone
Sorkin Music Co
Y
1950s
kayvintagereissue.com claims distribution by “Monroe or P&H”
Biltmore
Vitak-Elsnic
Y
1930s-1940s
Broman
Broman
Y
1941-?
Bruno
Y
Y
1930s-1950s
Possibly C Bruno and Sons?
Buckeye
Y
Carelli
Y
Catalina
Abercrombie and Fitch
Y
Not to be confused with the Harmony Catalina model archtop
Chimes
Y
Possible
1950s
Not to be confused with the Dobro “Norwood Chimes”
Columbian
Selmer UK
Y
Commander
Aldens
Y
Continental
Continental Music Company
Y
1929-late 1940s
Coronado
Gamble-Skogmo
Y
1960s
Reflective, circular logo like later TrueTones
Crest
Sears
Y
Y
Late 1930s
Custom Kraft
St Louis Music Co
Y
Y
1930s-1968
Incorrectly stated to be a brand name originating in the 60s. Commonly misspelled with variants of ‘C’ or ‘K’
El Rancho
Sorkin Music Co
Y
Late 1950s
Western motif
Encore
Y
1940s-1950s
Esquire
Selmer Indiana
Y
Y
1938
Fascinator
Tonk Brothers
Y
1930s
Also built by Gibson
Fender
Fender
Y
1970s
Ordered by Fender and built by Harmony
Fischer
Carl Fischer Catalog
Y
Y
1929-1936
1950s
Also seen branded “Carl Fischer”
Franklin
Franklin Music House
Y
1930s
Futuramic
Y
1950s
Space age themed
Gagliano
Y
Y
Galaxy
Y
1960s
Not to be confused with the Kay “Galaxy” models
Galiano
Y
Y
Y
Gaylord
Y
1940s
Gretsch
Gretsch
Y
Late 1940s
Groehsl
Y
1918-1921
Absorbed by Stromberg-Voisinet
Heath
Heathkit
Y
1960s
Primarily electric guitars
Holiday
Aldens
Y
Y
1960s
Hollywood
Schireson Brothers
Y
1933
Commonly misspelled as “Shireson”
Jay Johnson
Y
Appeared on the DeMont Harmony database, no evidence can be found
Kamico
Kay
Y
1947-1951
Budget line of Kay instruments
Kay Kraft
Kay
Y
1927-1937
Kaywood
Kay
Y
1934
Wooden resonators
Kleartone
Grossman Brothers
Y
1930s
Lark Jr
Y
Y
1930s-1950s
Music-note inlays on the Harmony models
Lee Gibbs / Concertone
Montgomery Ward
Y
Y
1914-1930s
Liberty
Continental Music Co
Y
War time 1940s
Patriotic red-white-blue motif
Lombardi
Y
1930s-1940s
Also known as Nobility
Lyra
Y
1940s-1950s
Manhattan
Selmer Indiana
Y
1938-1940
Marathon
Southland Musical Merchandise Co
Y
1950-1960s
Marvel
Peter Sorkin Co
Y
Y
1940s-1970s
Marveltone
Y
Y
Y
1930s-1960s
No apparent relation to the ‘Marvel’ line
Marwin
Barth-Feinberg
Y
Possible
1940s-1950s
Master Art
Y
Mayflower
Stromberg-Voisinet
Y
1920s
McKinney
Y
Amps built by Valco
Melody King
Bronson Music Co
Y
Y
1931-?
Minerva
Eaton’s Canada
Y
Mitchel
Y
1950s
Montclair
Y
Y
1950s-1960s
Nobility
Y
1930s-1940s
Also labelled as Lombardi
Oahu
Oahu Publishing Company
Y
Y
1927-1938
Old Kraftsman
Spiegel
Y
1942-1960s
Opus
Harmony
Y
1974-1975
Last American-built Harmony instruments
Orpheum
Montgomery Ward
Y
Y
1930s-1950s
Paramount
William Lange Banjo Co
Y
Y
Penn
Pennino Music Co.
1950s
Penncrest
JCPenney
Y
1950s-1960s
Playtime
Sears
Y
Y
1940s
Prairie Voice
Calgary Stampede
Y
Premier
Y
Y
Regal
Y
Y
Y
Kay-built in the 1930s.
Harmony-built post-1954
Rex
Gretsch Catalog (1948)
Y
Y
1930s-1940s
Rhapsody
Y
Royalist
RCA Victor
Y
1950s
Serenader
Buegeleisen and Jacobson
Y
Y
S. S. Maxwell
Y
Y
1930s
Sherwood
Montgomery Ward
Y
1940s-1960s
Sierra
Y
Silvertone
Sears
Y
Y
Y
Most common brand.
Italian-built models exist from the 60s
Sonata
Y
1940s
Stadium
Y
Y
1940s-50s
S. S. Stewart
Buegeleisen and Jacobson
Y
Y
1930s-1950s
Sterling
Tonk Brothers
Y
1930s
Stromberg
Y
1921-1932
Supertone
Sears
Y
Y
1914-1941
Suprema
Eaton’s Canada
Y
Y
1930s
Supro
Y
Late 1960s
“P.S. Supros were only built by Kay for about 2 years at the very end of their existence.” - Greg Z
Sylvia
Y
Telleno
Y
Y
1950s-1960s
Tempo
Y
1950s-1960s
Tone King
Y
Tower
Y
Truetone
Western Auto
Y
Y
1950s-1960s
Vega
Y
1960s
Vibratone
St Louis Music Co
Y
Y
1940s
Resonator models exist
Vita Uke
Y
Roy Smeck endorsement
Wabash
David Wexler Company
Y
1947-?
Walters
Y
1930s-1950s
Ward
Montgomery Ward
Y
1925-1961
Webster
Y
Y
1940s-1950s
Weymann
Y
Windsor
Montgomery Ward
Y
Y
Wizard
Y
References to these instruments only appear from South Africa

2 comments:

  1. The research is a little flawed as there were a number of other large Chicago Makers before WWII like Globe Music and Richter Mfg. Co. and not only does this not mention them but in some cases erroneously attributes instruments made buy them to the firms in the list. It also attributes some instruments made by the New York/New Jersey makers here too

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Feel free to point out any corrections that you see fit. I mainly focus on the 3 big Chicago manufacturers and my list just points out whether I've seen or heard of instruments being branded under a certain name and built by that manufacturer.

      Delete

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