Harmony (Sears and Roebuck)

Supertone with a partial splatter finish
20's Supertone
pre-war Harmony Soprano
pre war Red Label
post war Green Label
Harmony Silvertone player plastic fretboard
50's Silvertone
harmony bracketless frying pan banjolele
Harmony Banjolele
Harmony Johnny Marvin
1928 Johnny Marvin
50s harmony roy smeck mahogany standard soprano ukulele
Harmony Roy Smeck
Harmony Supertone drowsy waters Soprano ukulele
Supertone Drowsy Waters
Harmony palm trees canoe soprano Ukulele 30s
Pre War Canoe
Harmony Canoe palm trees Stencil blue Soprano Ukulele Corner
Post War Canoe

The Harmony Company was founded in 1892 by Wilhelm Schultz, (a former employee of Lyon & Healy) In 1916, it was bought by Sears, Roebuck and Co., which wanted to corner the Ukulele market, (Sears had first included Ukuleles in its 1914 catalogue), and went on to become the largest producer of stringed instruments in the US, selling some 250,000 pieces in 1923 and 500,000 in 1930, including all kinds of Guitars, Banjos, and Mandolins.

In the late 1930s the firm bought the brand names from the bankrupt Oscar Schmidt Co.—La Scala, Stella, and Sovereign—and was marketing not only Harmony products, but also using the Sears names, Playtime, Silvertone and Supertone, plus a variety of trade names, such as Monterey, Vogue, Valencia, Vagabond and Wings. There were also endorses like Johnny Marvin, and Roy Smeck, (I have also seen John Grey have Roy Smeck endorsed Banjoleles), plus there was also a lot of largely unbranded instruments sold through the Sears Roebuck catalogue and a lot of business with some of the big US distributors like P'IMCo, Metropolitan Music Co, and even some UK distributors like Beare & Son

The company hit a post war peak in 1964-1965, selling 350,000 instruments, but far eastern competition led to the company’s demise 10 years later. Between 1945 and 1975, Harmony had mass produced about ten million guitars, but finally even though in 1954 they had taken over Regal, their biggest rival up to that point, (The sold the Regal name on, certainly for guitars, but probably for everything to Fender in the late 1950's), they were no longer competitive with the Far East. It should also be noted that some of the final Harmony products, particularly the lower end ones, were produced in the Far East rather than Chicago.

Sears Roebuck continued on after the demise of Harmony and are still going today. For a while after the Harmony factory had gone they had Japanese or Taiwanese import Ukuleles branded Harmony and later just Sears Roebuck For certainly the 80's on they no longer branded instruments and just sold other peoples in their catalogue but in 2015 with the resurgence in interest of the old brand names on electric Guitars and the resurgence of Ukuleles in general they reintroduced the Slvertone name again for use on low end Chinese made instruments; Guitars and Soprano Ukuleles

Other Harmony labels can help date the Ukulele too, I'm not sure of the exact date of change but as a general rule before WWII they had a Gold and Red decal label and after they had a Gold and Green one. Another after the war sign is the use of plastic fretboards. Harmony, I believe came up with this idea in the 50's on the back of the rise of the plastic Ukulele, (which they to tried to cash in on, with their Modern Bali Range) or possibly remembering Globes experiments with the Tru-Fret range. The other thing that started at this time and was copied in the far east was the distinctive "Sharks Tooth" tuners

Another innovation they were proud of in the late 20's was an aeroplane shaped bridge they called the "Aero bridge" and claimed it protected Guitars against the soundboard sagging at the bridge? It was more likely just a gimmick though during the period of pioneering aviation along with their wings range of Ukuleles. It was also a feature on the Johnny Marvin Professional Tenors in the beginning or their production but it was phased out for a more normal bridge well before the end of production.

The 'teens Ukulele maker Harmony of California was nothing to do with this firm
Please contact me if you have any information or pictures that would improve the page

contact Web Administrator if you think your copyright has been infringed