Harmony, Kay, etc. Bleg

March 22, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Do you, dear readers, know of any contemporary serious players (in jazz) who regularly use old Harmony, Kay, etc. archtops, in other words, the mass-distributed inexpensive archtops of the 1940s to 1960s, for their professional gigging?

I ask because I have had the opportunity to try out particularly Kays that may be able to compete tonally and in terms of volume with the best Gibsons and Epiphones from the same period. Of course, these are likely outliers in the quality distribution. Clearly, the average Epi or Gibson archtop is much superior to the average Harmony or Kay. But the point is that these outliers exist — and may represent superior value (such as this one?)

Here is info on Kay guitars. And here is a Harmony page. Here is one more.

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2 Responses to “Harmony, Kay, etc. Bleg”


  1. Hi Nicolai, I just had to reply to this request even though I don’t have a ansewer for you. However, the thing that intrests me is that the Harmony guitars seem to be quite nice guitars. I do have a Harmony Rocket and it seem to be quite well made. I have only just replied to some oneelse today quoting that I like the Korean Made Epiphones because they remind me of the Harmony Guitars of the 40’s – 60′ when they were considered a cheaper guitar than a Gibson but, they were good value for money. I have always believed that a good guitar does not make the player and the name of the guitar does not make it better. However, the larger Guitar companies who can afford to, will always go out of their way to promote their guitars through a particular player or players, whilst the smaller companies will survive on price and value for money. I suppose in answer to your question, many a fine Jazz player would have played or owned a Harmony guitar at one time or another however, the more famous and richer they became the less chance there would have been seeing them playing one as image, ego and sponsors go hand in hand with fame and money. I think Roy Smeck played one and I think they had a Roy Smeck Model. It’s listed in the book of American Guitars. A very underated book like Harmony guitars, I might add.
    Regards Richard.


  2. […] an earlier post, I wondered whether any serious contemporary jazz player regularly used one of the cheapo […]


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