The Bluesbox Collection
This guitar bears a strong resemblence to Harmony's later, Stella brand guitars, but is not a Stella. Like the Harmony Stella's, it is made entirely from solid (not laminated) birch and has stenciled on appointments, such as the painted pinstripes around the face and soundhole. The fingerboard, again like the Harmony Stella's, is also birch which has been painted black and has stenciled position markers. Here is the back. Unlike the Harmony Stella's, this guitar has an Oscar Schmidt tailpiece, which can be seen clearly in this close-up shot. (Note: This tailpiece has been changed since this photo was taken - it developed a crack) That is one of the things that dates this guitar. The Oscar Schmidt Co., which actually created the Stella brand, went out of business during the depression years. It's brand names (such as Stella and Sovereign), and remaining assets were sold to the Harmony Co. in 1940. Harmony then proceeded to market a lower quality Stella guitar line. You can also see the mark on the face where the bridge had been placed, apparently for years, before I bought the guitar. In that position it would have been impossible for the instrument to intonate properly - so I am assuming that the person who sold it to me had no idea how nice this guitar actually is.
When the Oscar Schmidt Co. was one of the kings of "house brands" (from around 1900 until the mid-30s) it also manufactured guitar parts, such as necks, bridges, tuning gears and tailpieces, and sold them to companies like Kay, Regal and Harmony. So this guitar, which can be seen from the shape of the headstock is clearly a Harmony, had to have been manufactured when Oscar Schmidt was still in buisness, or else with parts that were left over from Harmony's take-over of Oscar Schmidt. In either case, this would date the guitar before 1940. The Harmony Stella guitars were fitted with the familiar Harmony "X" design tailpieces which still show up on the imported Harmony Stella line that is manufactured in Korea to this day.
An interesting sideline: The cheapness of this guitar is further demonstrated by the fact that the tuning gears are fastened on with brads rather then screws. The tailpiece was also attached this way, though I replaced the brads with screws there because they were starting to come loose.
This instrument has a pretty bad warp on the lower side of the neck near the 12th fret. In fact I had to loosen the 12th fret and raise it a hair in order to get the guitar to fret properly at that point on the neck. It now plays very nicely and has a pleasing tone that is quite loud.