« Vintage or Re-Issue, a unique guitar to own »Published on 09/13/12 at 13:39
The Stratotone is an interesting guitar, the original harmony models are some of the best out there. They featured the early version of the "Hershey Bar" pick-up and simple controls. You would have a volume knob, a tone knob, and a rythym/treble switch.
They were very small body guitars with an unusually wide tapered neck which definitely made them an odditiy then, and still does today. Surprisingly, these guitars are very well balanced body/neck wise. The extra wide tapered neck is also really fun to play on once you get used to the style.
The Stratotone was available in a single pickup version, the H44, or a dual pickup version, the H45.
The newer re-issue versions are available in the classic copper metal flake paint job or the classic high gloss black (tuxedo) paint job.
The industrious collector of Harmony made instruments can also find many different Stratotone models available for purchase that were simply built by Harmony and then marketed, branded and distributed by several other companies. The Alden Tuxedo, or the Airline Tuxedo for instance, are both some of the more common H44 models that float to the surface nowadays. (Plenty of Harmony branded H44's and 45's also pop up as well!)
The Stratotone's design is reminiscent of a scaled down les paul body type. The single cutaway provides ample access to the upper frets and overall is a really comfortable guitar to play.
Vintage and Re-issue Stratotones share a unique tone. I just can't call it muffled, that would be wrong, but to say that it is overly thick to the point of absurdity would be closer to the mark.
I play my Stratotone through a vintage Fender Princeton amp. I typically set the low tone knob way low, the mid about 12o'clock, and the high about 3-4o'clock. I always play the guitar with the Rythym/Treble or Lead switch set to Treble/Lead. Also Volume and Tone knobs are set to max, all the time.
The overall sound is an interesting mix between vintage and modern. It has a sort of "radiohead'ish" sound.
It mixes quite well with my original band's quasi-classic/modern rock sound and it also blends very nicely with some of my solo electronic/organic music.
I purchased both my re-issue and my vintage model for about 250-300$ a piece.
The overall sound vs. the price is...well it's unique. What can I really say? Both have a tone that you simply cannot find in ANY other guitar.
Your choice of string thickness, setup preferences, and amp choice are going to be huge factors with this guitar.
I'm a long-time Harmony enthusiast, so, yes I've played as many as have come close to me. (close enough to grab it and say, "hey, let me jam on this for a bit") The Stratotone is it's very own and very unique animal.
I'd buy either another re-issue or another vintage model in an instant if I didn't already own both.
Both the vintage and the re-issues are readily available from private collectors, music stores, and ebay.