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  #1  
Old 08-29-2009, 02:00 PM
chucke99 chucke99 is offline
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Need Help ID'ing an Old Archtop

I know a guy prepping his parents house for an estate sale and he has an old acoustic archtop guitar. I told him I'd take a look at it (to see if it was something special) and turns out it is a no-brand model, but has (to me) all the hallmarks of a 1940's era box. There are no markings I can find, either on the outside or inside, though I didn't have a mirror to check under the top.

I've linked a few pictures below. The guitar is in great shape, though it has a pretty good bow in the neck (nothing that would affect acoustic/chord playing, but you wouldn't want it for solos). Binding is intact and not overly cracked, and all the parts look to be original. I forgot to get a picture of the butt end of the guitar, but the trapeze tail is the two-prong style, not coming together in one piece.

Apart from identifying it, he wants to know what it's worth. I said that even as a no-name, the original parts (especially the bridge and bakelite pickguard) would bring good money on eBay, and that a "sum of the parts" to me says the guitar is worth at least $200. I'd like to make sure it's not something more significant, or else he should be asking for more than that. If it may be worth more, I'd point him to www.archtop.com to request an appraisal, but that will cost him $35.

I know it's a longshot, since this forum is mostly about electrics, but appreciate any insight you all can give me. Thanks in advance!









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Old 08-29-2009, 03:11 PM
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Looks like a Harmony.

But there were so many brands and very few manufactures those days.
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2009, 04:23 PM
NYJim NYJim is offline
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ID'ing old archtop

I agree it looks like an old Harmony, Stella, or Kay guitar who made guitars for Sears under the Silvertone brand, but it looks very similar to an Airline brand that was made for Montgomery Ward by Harmony, Kay, and Valco.

The Airline had that plain squared off headstock as opposed to more decorative headstocks made by the other brands. The pickguard on that guitar doesn't look original to me, but I'm not an expert. Whoever owned that guitar, it looks like they enjoyed playing it by the wear on the fretboard.

I've seen similar looking guitars in "antique" shops (more like junk shops) that were found in an attic or basement while cleaning out an old house. It could be worth a couple of hundred dollars at best if someone is looking for that guitar to fill a hole in a collection, but it looks like a plain, no name guitar that's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

You may want to check on the Unofficial Martin Guitar board. They have some people there that are very good at identifying old acoustic guitars.

http://www.guitar-museum.com/guitar-...coustic-Guitar

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Old 08-29-2009, 04:33 PM
chucke99 chucke99 is offline
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Thanks for the lead on the Martin board. I think the pick guard is original, as it looks as undisturbed as the rest of the hardware. Interesting thought about it being an Airline too.

I used to own an archtop made by Sovereign (before they went bankrupt and the name was bought by Oscar Schmidt) and it had the exact same kind of f holes (with the ends detached from the main opening) but other than that the guitars are different. I found a couple pictures online of guitars with the same f holes, but they also differ in significant ways otherwise. Grrrr.

I love a good mystery, though.
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Old 08-29-2009, 06:46 PM
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The tailpiece makes it a Regal from before Harmony bought the company ca. 1950.
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Old 08-29-2009, 06:56 PM
chucke99 chucke99 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
The tailpiece makes it a Regal from before Harmony bought the company ca. 1950.
Great lead! What about the headstock? Do you know who made guitars for Regal?
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:21 PM
NYJim NYJim is offline
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That's not a Regal. My vintage guitar book says Regal made some very fancy archtops in the 30's. That is not a fancy archtop if you google some pictures of Regal guitars. I just typed out a whole post that got lost because it asked for me to sign in again and I lost my post.

I'll still say it's a low end archtop guitar made by either Kay, Harmony, or Valco for a department store like Montgomery Ward or Sears back in the 50's or 60's.

There's nothing fancy or elaborate on that guitar from its plain square headstock, open tuners, and the plain looking tailpiece. It probably had a decal on the headstock that wore off over the years which makes identifying these guitars difficult because they didn't stamp serial numbers or put a label in the guitar like Martin and Gibson did so you could identify and date the guitars.
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:24 PM
in a little row in a little row is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
The tailpiece makes it a Regal from before Harmony bought the company ca. 1950.
i dont know about that...i have a post '50s silvertone with the same tail...theres tons of them out there...

i does look like could be a regal however, but man there were SO many of those birds made during that time...could be anything...marking inside the guitar might help, but i have seen many, many old archtops that have various parts, made by various companies and facilities...squared headstock means it probably wasnt a dept store job...too plain
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:26 PM
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Regal made their own guitars before Harmony bought the company, and they also made guitars for National, Dobro, and a variety of other brands. Most Regal headstocks had fancier shapes, but they might have varied based on the actual brand. The same tailpiece was used on resonators as well, and is a distinctive Regal feature regardless of the brand (example 1, example 2, example 3). Regal did make some fancy instruments, but the vast majority of them were low-budget ones.
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:47 PM
chucke99 chucke99 is offline
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I keep coming back to those F holes, though. I don't see a match for them on any Regals, Harmony's, or Kay's I've run across today. Here's a picture of my old Sovereign, and it actually has very closely matching F holes. I'll have to dig back into my information on that one, to see if I ever uncovered what factory Sovereign used before they went bankrupt.

Sovereign was brand of the Oscar Schmidt company, before it went bankrupt, at which point its brand assets were sold to Harmony (that happened in about 1938/39). They started making archtops as a last resort effort to build market share. Notes I can find say that early O/S guitars were made at times at Lyon & Healy, in Chicago. I'll check on some L&H archtops next.


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Old 08-29-2009, 09:15 PM
NYJim NYJim is offline
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In the late 30's, Harmony purchased several trade names from the Schmidt Company, including Sovereign and Stella. Sovereign then ceased as a brand, but Harmony continued using it on a model line of Harmony guitars. (From Vintage Guitar Price Guide)

I still say that tortoise shell pickguard was added on. The headstock is square. The Regals used as examples are flat tops with round sound holes. I don't think this guitar is that old to be a Regal archtop from the 30's.

Is there a better picture of the headstock? I've been zooming in and using editing software to be able to make out what appears to be letters, but it's like looking at those prints you stare at and it becomes the starship Enterprise. My head is spinning.

Notice also no fret dot on the 3rd fret and only single dots.

Just reading that Washburn guitars was founded in Chicago as one of the lines for Lyon & Healy (as the plot thickens). The rights to Washburn were sold to J.R. Stewart Co. in '28, but rights to the Washburn name was sold to Tonk Brothers of Chicago. Tonk Brothers bought at auction all Stewart trade names when they went bankrupt during the depression and sold them to the Regal Musical Instrument Co. These Washburn models lasted until around 1949. Did you follow all that? So we're back to this guitar possibly being a Regal. Let me see if I can make out any of those names on the headstock and google those names and see what comes up.
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:18 PM
RMcFarland RMcFarland is offline
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Maybe Kalamazoo, but the corners of the headstock don't look sharp enough.
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:41 PM
62swingmaster 62swingmaster is offline
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It looks like it could be a Supertone, I have a Supertone with that headstock from 1936, but the pickguard is kinda a Kalamazoo thing like the guy before me said, so maybe a Supertone.
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:16 PM
NYJim NYJim is offline
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I found some Slingerland archtops that have a similar F-hole but not the headstock. That square headstock is throwing everything off.

Slingerland Archtops
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:36 PM
NYJim NYJim is offline
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I think I found it. There's a few differences in the fretboard, but that could be from different years or another variation of the model. It could also be that a dot fret marker is missing from the guitar in question here. The H1277 even has the square headstock and what looks like dust making like a triangle image on the headstock is the same. There's more pictures where the headstock looks a little more rounded, but that may be from a different year too where the body remained the same but there were changes in the fretboard markers and in the headstock. The F-holes are the same too.

http://harmony.demont.net/

Now I think it's either the Rex Royal or the H1270 - Vogue model E which is the same model.


H1270 - Vogue model E


Okay, that's it, I'm going to bed. I spent all night on this. So much for my social life.
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