Friday, June 25, 2010

The Harmony "Hollywood" H59 Rocket Model Guitar

At the start of the 50’s due to the popularity of electronic guitars and amplifiers,Chicago Musical Instrument Company introduced many different models under the Harmony brand name in all price ranges.
Among the most unique guitar they made was the model H59 or Rocket H59. The guitar was Harmonys answer to the Gibson Switchmaster. The guitar was equipped with 3 DeArmond Golden Tone pickups with a neat row of tone volume potentiometers along the guitars lower bottom bout.

Switchmaster & Zephyr




As on the Gibson Switchmaster and it's Epiphone cousin, the Zephyr Emperor Regent. Both guitars had a volume and tone potentiomers for each pickup (The Zephyr Emperor had a single volume and tone pot for all three pickups.




The H59 Rocket and the Switchmaster utilized a 4 way switching system mounted on the lower cutaway. (The Epiphone came with 6 pushbuttons on the lower bout.) The H59 allowed the player to choose to turn on a single pickup or all three pickups at once. By utilizing the volume controls a player could get seven different pickup combinations.
The Harmony H59 was built from 1960 to 1967 before it was replaced. The catalog described it as the Rocket 3 Pickup ultra-thin cutaway electric. The H59's body was bound in celluloid. The neck was not bound. Harmony's literature stated the guitar came with an ultra-slim neck with "uniform feel”, whatever that means.


Necks on many Harmony guitars did not have adjustable truss rods, but did have a steel rod within to prevent warping.


In 1966 Harmony began using what they called “Torque-Lok Adjustable Neck Reinforcing Rods.” The neck scale was 24 ¼”; somewhat shorter than Gibsons normal length.

We don’t know what wood was used for the body. The catalog say "hardwood body." Many Harmony guitars were made of birch. The catalog states it is made from Hardwood. During its run this guitar sold for $139.50! The chipboard case was only $14.50.




By 1966 the price went up eight bucks to $147.50 and the case was a dollar more.


In 1968 Harmony redesigned the guitar and dubbed it the H59/1. Essentially it was the same guitar but with double cutaways. The cost went up twenty bucks to $159.50, but the case remained at $15.50.


Some of Harmonys more expensive guitars were quality instruments. And this model is no exception.


Harmony Guitars have recently been reintroduced, this time they are manufactured in Korea. They only offer the H54, which was the two pickup version with a retail price of $895.00 USD.

Eastwood guitars offers the Airline H77, which is based on the Harmony H77. Eastwood's direct price is $669.00 USD.




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1 comment:

Robert Barnes said...

I have a friend who has the Holiday version of the Rocket, which was sold by Alden. It looks exactly like the harmony model, but with Holiday across the head stock. It has the original case. I wonder what it's worth?