Vintage guitar mystery - Standel-Harptone acoustics?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by MisterTV, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. MisterTV

    MisterTV Member

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    There's something of a rare bird on my local CL that caught my attention, and I'm wondering if anyone here might know more.

    He's selling a 1968 Standel E-6N acoustic (full-size dred, arched back).I did a little research, and apparently these were made in VERY limited numbers.

    As the story goes, in the mid-1960s, Harptone hired luthier Stan Koontz to design a series of acoustic and electric guitars and basses for Standel.

    Although exact quantities are not known, the consensus seems to be that just a few hundred instruments were ever made, all in 1967 and 1968, at Harptone’s facilities in Newark, New Jersey.

    I know "rare" doesn't always equal "valuable" or even "good", but I am a little intrigued. Anyone ever seen or played one of these before?
     
  2. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    I had to do a bridge inlay on one a few years back which is ugly, unpleasant, and thankfully rare repair work. The laminations in the top had come apart which let the bridge and the top ply that it was glued to tear out. Build quality/ambiance was similar to Guild. The headstock is enough to justify a reasonable price for admission. By "reasonable" I mean less than a grand and preferably closer to $500. assuming excellent condition.
    When you say "limited" numbers, maybe with the Standel name on them but Harptone manufactured for several years- There are plenty of Gibson or Gretsch models that are much more scarce.
     
  3. MisterTV

    MisterTV Member

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    Apart from the crazy castle-tower style headstock, it does look a lot like a Guild. He's asking $900, and it has been refinished at least once.
     
  4. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Gold Supporting Member

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    I've played a Harptone jumbo-style, and it was a well-built, solid guitar. The sound wasn't far removed from an equivalent Guild model. $900 would be reasonable if it were in clean, original condition, but not with a refinish.
     
  5. zombywoof

    zombywoof Member

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    Many years ago I owned a Koontz guitar. If I recall it was made some place in PA. It was a really nice instrument.

    The Harptone guitars have had quite a bit of press over the years. I believe his shop was in Linden, NJ and he built between 200 and 300 guitars for Standel in 1968 and 1969. There was something about the label that helped date the guitar - that it took a bit for Standel to get their own labels on the instruments or something. I think if it read Harptone it is an earlier instrument while the Standel name appears on the later ones. I could be wrong about that though.
     
  6. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    My info says Harptone (Koontz) built Standels for a couple years around 1968. Harptone gets sold in 1975 and it seems that guitars were still sold under the name after that by the new nameholders.
    If the guitar has been refinished, that traditionally knocks the value in half, so I'd say 900 bucks is a little steep. Some might say a lot. Play it and look it over. If it really grabs you and has the "vibe", six or seven hundred would be tops IMO.
     
  7. MisterTV

    MisterTV Member

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    I haven't seen the guitar in person yet, but the owner told me who made and installed the replacement bridge and saddle... both were done by a local violin maker who has a stellar reputation. It might be worth a look in person.
     
  8. Revivalman

    Revivalman Member

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    In 1975, I was one of the buyers who purchased Harptone Guitars from then owner, Sonny Brooks. The factory, which also made Harptone cases, was located in Newark, NJ. Sonny kept the case side of the business. Included with the purchase of the guitar manufacturing equipment and raw materials were about 50 Harptone acoustic guitars in various stages of completion. There were also dozens of unfinished Standel electric guitars and a few Standel acoustics that were either damaged or obvious manufacturing seconds.

    We moved everything to Independence, VA, where an old Piggly-Wiggly supermarket on Main St. was converted into Diamond-S Musical Instrument Corporation. Most of the Standel brand guitars were sold to a small guitar maker ( I don’t remember who or where). He planned to redesign the headstock with his own brand name. But it's possible a few old Standel electrics are floating around in SW Virginia. We allowed the guys working in the factory to finish building one and keep it for themselves.
     
  9. Sparkysparks

    Sparkysparks Member

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    The Standel in question was sanded, not recomended, and French Polished. I beleive the owner told me that he sanded a small spot through the Mahogany lamante on the back. It's in very good shape other wise. It's value is around $400. A E6-N or S in pristine condition retails for $1200. $700 to $900 is common for good condition .
    The compairison to Guild is well founded. Sam Koontz hired away a bunch of Guild's Luthiers to start building Harptone"s.
    The President of the New Standl Amp Co., Danny McKenny, told me that the guess is around 300 units were produced for Standel. There are 11 different models, 3 trim levels, and a number of varents. The electrics came as all maple sunburst with a layer of red, and as all Mahogany with a Cherry finish. Both had 2 trim levels. Deluxe and Deluxe Artist. The accoustis came with laminate one piece backs in Mahogany and curley maple. The Violin shape of the backs and the cross grain of the laminate created a very strong piece of wood. This allowed the backs to be built without bracing.
    Tops are solid Alaska Sitka spruce and Cider in Natural and sunburst finish. Wide grain is very common. I currently own a Lark with very tight grain. 3 trim levels Standard, Deluxe, and Deluxe artist.
    Necks are solid Maple or Mahogany. Note: The Mahogany neck have been known to twist. I have no info on the Maple necks.
    I could go on for a week about hardware and mods. I think I save it for another time.
    Revival Man. I'd love to chew the fat with you. The selling and short Diamond-D period is a big hole in my known history.
     
  10. Sparkysparks

    Sparkysparks Member

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    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
  11. Pearl-o

    Pearl-o Member

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    I just played a Harptone 12 string at a little hole in the wall store in South Florida. Needs a truss rod adjustment, but I was impressed. It was hanging next to a Guild 12 string from the 70's, and the Harptone smoked it. Dude wanted 800 for the Guild and six for the Harptone.
     
  12. Sparkysparks

    Sparkysparks Member

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    Run with it if you haven't already. 6 bills a steal.
     
  13. jmckable

    jmckable Member

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    New to the forum. I have a Standel L 6N. Have owned it for more than 30 years. Got it at an estate sale really cheap, with original case
    . Love it! It's not mint condition, but close.
    It appears that the finish has some hairline cracks just starting. Any idea what I can do about those? Thanks!
     
  14. sunburst79

    sunburst79 Member

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    Avoid temperture and humidity extremes and enjoy the character they add.
     
  15. Jim_H

    Jim_H Member

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    Feel free to join Eric's (Sparkysparks) Facebook "Standel and Harptone Guitar" page. It's purpose is to preserve the heritage of these fine guitars.

    Anyone know Revivalman? We would love to talk to him...
     
  16. Sparkysparks

    Sparkysparks Member

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    That's normal. The finish and the pick guard shrink over time and cracking occurs. The best way to deal with it is to leave it alone.
     
  17. Michael Catalano

    Michael Catalano Member

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    I've had L-6 since 1983. It is amazingly great sounding guitar works very well in the studio and it's great for live performance one of the sweetest instrument ever played



     

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