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Some of this information is cited, some of it isn't. There are claims that are common knowledge for people familiar with these instrume...

Identifying Kay or Harmony Guitars

Some of this information is cited, some of it isn't. There are claims that are common knowledge for people familiar with these instruments and there are claims that I've gathered through research and first-hand experience. 

Brand name breakdowns for both manufacturers can be found on my page

Kay 

Symbols

  • "K-#### ####"
    • Stamped inside the body on the back
    • Numbers following the "K" are the model number of the instrument
    • Remaining 4 numbers are meaningless and likely batch related
  • "L#### ####"
    • Stamped inside the body on the back
    • Unknown meaning but likely related to the batch
    • Commonly (and wrongly) attributed to be a model number
  • "N#", "P#", "B#"
    • Stamped inside the body on the back
    • Unknown meanings
    • N numbers can go up to 15. [4]
    • P numbers can go up to 7. [3]
    • B numbers can go up to 10. [5]
    • N and P numbers can occur together
    • B and N numbers can occur together

Headstock Variants

[1940s] Rounded point, smaller at the
top, very Harmony-esque
[1940s] Sharp point, steep angle

[1960s] Sharp point, shallow angle
[1960s] Rounded 3 point 

Fretboard

  • Brazilian Rosewood
    • Associated with high end instruments
    • Lower end archtops could be seen with it up until the 60s
  • Indian Rosewood
    • Became the economic choice in the 1960s
  • Maple
    • Painted black or ebonized
    • Red-dyed plywood boards appearz on 1960s archtops
    • Lacquered maple boards also appear on 1960s archtops
  • Walnut
    • Appeared in the 1940s
    • Claimed in a couple 1960's catalogs
    1961 Montgomery Ward catalog [1]
      1958 Silvertone catalog [2]
  • During the 50s, a mystery wood appeared on flat tops
    • That stock of wood remained in some acoustic bridges into the late 1960s
    • I've seen people claim its rosewood, walnut, or mahogany
  • Position dots
    • 3/8" pearloid or white dots in a single line pattern appeared in the 1960s
    • 7/32" mother of pearl dots at latest in the 1950s
    • 3/16" white dots in an alternating 1 and 2 dot pattern were common prior to 1960
    • Some painted inlays can be found like the K1160 "music note" guitar.

Body

  • Known for laminated woods, advertised as "crack-proof"
  • Acoustics
    • Laminated mahogany back and sides often have a solid spruce top
    • Plywood back and sides often have a plywood top
  • Solid body

Neck

  • 1940s saw the use of some mahogany
  • Most commonly poplar with grafted headstock wings

Pickups

  • built in-house

Harmony

Symbols

  • "F-##", "S-##"
    • Denotes Fall or Spring
    • The number is the year that the instrument was built. ex: 19##
    • Sometimes followed by a letter with an unknown meaning
    • "Made in USA" appears underneath it
  • ####H####
    • Preceding numbers are likely a batch number
    • Following numbers are the model number of the instrument
  • Carved Top
    • Printed in red ink, indicates a high end model with a carved (rather than heat pressed) arch top

Headstock Variants

[1940s] Rounded, narrow headstock
[1950s] Typical Harmony, rounded top

[1930s] Rounded, significantly smaller at the bottom

Fretboard

  • Brazilian Rosewood
    • Continued to appear on mid to high-end models far into the 1960s
  • Ebonized
    • Fairly common on low-end models
    • Brittle and prone to cracking and chipping
  • Position dots
    • 3/16" white dots in an alternating 1 and 2 dot pattern in the 1930s
    • Commonly painted using ornate stencils

Body

  • Known for using solid woods
  • Acoustics
    • Solid mahogany and solid spruce
    • Solid birch on low end models
  • Electrics

Pickups

  • DeArmond gold foils

Sources


1 comment:

  1. FYI, from the Harmony Demont Website FAQ’s

    The other smaller stamp is the date stamp and indicates the year of production. It's said that the letter at the beginning indicates the period of the year, like "F" for "Fall" or "S" for "Spring". That was before Ed, a former worker from the Harmony factory, said : "The company closed down production every July for two weeks. During the last two weeks of June an effort was made to finish as many orders as possible and not start any new orders. The last days of June, we had a complete inventory. I believe the "F'" and "S" may have stood for first and second half of the year."

    ReplyDelete

Be excellent to each other dudes