Why we think Harmony guitars are some of the best available!

Why we think Harmony guitars are some of the best available!

Founded 131 years ago in the year 1892, Harmony has played a pivotal and storied role in the history of US guitar manufacturing. Holding the title of producing by far the most instruments of any competing manufacturer during their heyday, manufacturing an approximate ten million instruments between the years of 1945 and 1975, Harmony established itself during this golden era as a ubiquitous name in the stringed instrument world.


 Harmony catalogue circa. '60s


Despite many of these instruments during this time being produced for the department stores of the day and offered at a lower price point, Harmony Guitars were not only the first instruments for some of the greatest guitarists throughout history but were also rediscovered later by upcoming musicians looking for a unique sound. Some notable players include Howlin’ Wolf, Ritchie Valens, Jimmy Page, and most recently Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Reborn in 2018, Harmony have revitalised many of their iconic electric guitar designs, alongside some new offerings, and despite common convention within the industry to outsource manufacturing, Harmony Guitars are proudly made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

Harmony have effectively taken their rich history of guitar manufacturing and revitalised it for a modern audience. Here’s why we think you should check them out!

Unique silhouettes and the magic of gold-foil pickups

What we immediately love about Harmony’s offerings are the unique silhouettes and retro designs that make these guitars so eye-catching. Designed with contemporary ergonomics in mind yet staying true and faithful to the history of previous models, Harmony Guitars stand out in a market saturated with shapes such as the S-style and LP. 

Take for example the Harmony Silhouette. Based on the vintage model of the same name, the Silhouette features a unique offset body, with pronounced contours in all the right places. Utilising lightweight alder for the body construction, we are often blown away by not only how light these instruments are, but also the depth of acoustic resonance not matched in many other comparable solid body guitars. These instruments are deceptively simple in presentation, lacking many of the contemporary bells and whistles found on similar guitars at this price point. What we’ve loved about Harmony’s offerings is a focus on getting the core elements right, making for a high-quality instrument at an extremely attractive price point.

The other feature that sets Harmony apart from the competition, are the gold foil pickups that adorn all guitars in their standard series. StringJoy has an excellent article diving into the history and tone of these pickups, but to keep it short, gold foil pickups originate from the 1930s and vary wildly in configuration and tone. In the case of Harmony’s current offerings, they’re offered in mini-bucker and humbucker formats, custom-voiced, and hand-wound to round it out! We’ve found these pickups to be exceptionally open and airy, with a prominent brightness. Being lower output pickups, they lack some of the punch found on equivalent humbuckers but make up for it with a sound that is lively and wide-open in frequency. In a world of active pickups, and over-wound humbuckers, the humble gold foil pickup stands out for its unique tonal character and striking visual appearance. 


The Harmony Silhouette in a gorgeous champagne finish


Nitro in a sea of Poly

Within guitar circles, debates have raged for decades regarding the tonal implications and wearability of nitrocellulose lacquer and polyurethane. Both have their pros and cons, but in this instance when discussing Harmony, the benefits of a nitrocellulose lacquer finish become quite evident. Prior to the late 1960s, nitrocellulose lacquer was the standard when it came to finishing guitars. This type of finish was significantly more labour-intensive compared to the later polyurethane, with the result being a finish that was more porous and aged naturally. With the widespread adoption of polyurethane, manufacturers were able to finish their guitars in a way which greatly minimised long-term wear, whilst also being less labour intensive and not requiring the same multi-coat process.

The unfortunate consequence of this much more durable finishing technique was when guitars did wear, the finish would wear in an awkward manner, often resulting in the entire finish peeling off! Due to this unfortunate consequence and the thicker coat applied with poly believed to interfere with the instrument’s natural resonance, nitro finishes have been in great demand and are more traditionally seen on higher end models.

Harmony’s move to finish their instruments in nitrocellulose lacquer is fairly left field within the industry, especially when considering the finishes applied to instruments at a similar price point. Older instruments we’ve encountered finished in nitro have typically (not necessarily exclusively) have tended to be much livelier when played unamplified. Other factors also present a noticeable influence, such as the quality of the wood used and the specific construction of the instrument. In the case of Harmony, the choice to finish their standard line in nitrocellulose lacquer not only represents an acknowledgement of their manufacturing history, but also consideration of a discerning consumer base which has for years anxiously awaited the use of nitrocellulose on more affordable instruments.


In an increasingly competitive industry, Harmony have set themselves apart from what can, at times, seem like a fairly homogenous market in terms of product diversity. By fusing the designs of yesteryear, with a modern approach to functionality and playability, the Harmony range has quickly become a favourite of ours here at Replay Guitars. Not only do these instruments play exceptionally well straight from the factory, but also have a fit and finish that rivals many competitive brands at a much more approachable price point. Throw into the mix an included Mono gig bag (our favourite cases to use as working musicians), and you can begin to see why we’re so excited about these guitars. Don’t take our word for it though, swing by and check out what all the fuss is about!


Shop our range of Harmony guitars here! 

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