Here’s a very cool Harmony Lap Steel Electric Guitar made in Chicago sometime in the 1950s.
We cannot identify the exact model number, but here’s what we think we know –
Square back maple neck with acrylic fingerboard
Oversize single coil pickup
Volume and tone controls
Light blue lacquer finish
Lots of lovely early white plastic in fine condition
Here’s how Harmony described their lap steel models in 1955-6 – “A striking concept in Hawaiian guitar design, developed for professional appearances. Incorporates highly responsive pickup, special tone control, and volume control for special effects. The body was devised to ease of holding in playing position. Its sweeping curves are given sharp contrast and eye appeal by the gleaming polished finish. Plastic fingerboard and handrest. Nickel-plated machine heads with plastic buttons. A fine instrument for the professional, or the enthusiast alike.”
This is a great-looking, great-sounding steel and carries the angled “Harmony” nameplate on its chunky plastic embedded headstock face. It’s cool, quirky, and great-sounding. What’s not to love?
Overall length is 31 1/2 in. (80 cm.), 8 in. (20.3 cm.) across at the widest point, and 2 in. (5.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 3/4 in. (578 mm.). Width of nut is 2 in. (51 mm.).
The big fat single coil pickup is sitting proudly under its horseshoe covering. This pickup sure looks like an oversize version of Leo Fender’s original Esquire single pickup in 1950, which itself was likely inspired by Rickenbacker’s 1930’s lap steel pickup. Whatever, it sounds huge.
This steel shows a few dings and dents to the finish but looks very lightly played and in very original and unaltered condition. The only alteration we can see is that one of the control knobs has been replaced.
This funky 50s Harmony was imported by the then Australian distributors, the legendary Nicholson’s chain based in Sydney. Their sticker remains on the back of the headstock.
Like most importers at the time, they brought their products into Oz in plain boxes, and supplied them with locally sourced cases. In this case it was likely from the Chatswood company Stamford, who later supplied cases for Fender importers. And it is a fine piece in its own right. It is a solidly build rectangular case covered in a sexy tartan/tweed mix that could only come from the 50s. And it’s way better than the lightweight US cases Harmony supplied. This case is in very good original condition and will outlive us all !
This fine lap steel is owned by a respected pro player from Sydney. He has used it for many years on multiple projects and recordings. It is well set up, in excellent original condition and sounds fabulous – subtle textures & colours are on tap as required, or dial in some crunch and get that David Lindley tone to die for.