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Apr 19, 2021 - 5:26:06 PM
6 posts since 4/16/2021

Ladies and Gentlemen. I am a new member but a very longtime singer and recently songwriter. I was given an older banjo in a case that is worth way more than the Harmony banjo inside. I took it apart completely installed a new strings and with some finagleing a new Remo head. I would love to know more about her. I have found her in the 1960 catalog I think. I believe she originally had skin head but idon't know.




Apr 19, 2021 - 5:38:13 PM

roydsjr

USA

719 posts since 5/17/2007

I believe it originally had 30 hooks instead of 16, (maybe not but it has the holes for the extras) Bakelite rim. I feel sure that it came out with a plastic head (I could be wrong there too) . I believe you are right about being in the 60's . There are some listed on ebay. I just noticed that there are 2 listed and one has 30 hooks and the cheaper one has 16, so they could have been sold that way.

Edited by - roydsjr on 04/19/2021 17:41:00

Apr 19, 2021 - 6:07:40 PM
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606 posts since 2/26/2007

My Harmony Resotone came with a painted brown neck, skin head, 16 brackets, no arm rest, no resonator, no side dots, and a 1:1 friction fifth string peg. The remaining bracket locations were molded in on the bake-lite rim, but not drilled.

I don't know enough about Harmony banjos to tell you anything more than my own experience with one.
Fortunately, the action was low, and the intonation good enough that it did not discourage me.

I believe it should serve you well.

Edited by - FiveStringPop on 04/19/2021 18:13:27

Apr 19, 2021 - 8:56:43 PM
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429 posts since 5/29/2015

All Harmony Reso-Tone rims were made to accept 16 or 30 hooks. On the 16 hook rims, the additional 14 holes were not drilled out. Set up with a light bridge, proper head tension and a good tailpiece allowing downward pressure on the strings/bridge they can sound quite good. The only thing I find annoying is the placement of the 5th string peg--more like the 4th string peg. Another issue is that the wooden dowel that holds the neck to the body is round going through a round hole instead of square, so the neck can rotate out of place easily. Just twist it back into place. Don't overtighten the resonator to the banjo, this can cause the internal dowel to warp and pull the neck angle up. Those are the Reso-Tone quirks.

Harmony Reso-tones are also resistant to becoming possessed by Satan. So you can safely store them near electric guitars as you are doing. ;-) What is there not to like about them?

Apr 19, 2021 - 11:51:34 PM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

13941 posts since 8/30/2006

It's the first banjo I ever played.

there's no adjustable truss rod, instead a piece of steel flatbar is installed up on its edge and runs the length of the neck,

My Stamm neck was available from SingOut magazine for $30. We mowed lawns.  It has the same 57 year old straight neck from the same type of steel flatbar on edge. .  

Here's the Minutemen 57 years ago. Dang. Still straight after all these years, and the banjo, too.


Satan did try to learn banjo, but it took him ten years just to learn to tune, so then he tried to tempt some cowboys into a fiddle contest, but his horns and hooves were too tempting, so they roped and branded him to howl like the West Texas wind.

The banjo player went back and tied a couple of knots in his tail.

I believe this story, banjo is a verb. ( ):)==='== ::}




Edited by - Helix on 04/19/2021 23:54:52

Apr 20, 2021 - 12:56:47 AM
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11285 posts since 10/27/2006

If it was made before Harmony went bankrupt in 1968, it had a skin head. Harmony was the only company that never switched to mylar. Likewise, round dowel stick to the end.

Afterwards, the liquidators assembled the remaining instruments and dumped them onto the market at least through 1976. Mylar heads, Japanese tuners and tailpieces are often found on these. Many were sold through Regal, owned by Fender as a distribution company — there are even harmony banjos re-branded Fender from this era.

Most had 16 brackets but the pot could accommodate 30. These Bakelite Beauties can sound surprisingly good when properly set up.

I kind of kick myself for not acquiring at least one of the long necks I found over the years. 

The current Asian import copies (Rover RB20 etc.) have a softer plastic than the Bakelite used in '60s Harmonys. They can sound ok but not like the real deal. 

Speaking of which, for many years, Saga imported a copy of that rim in cast aluminum. It had a few names over the years, the last being the Rover RB30.  "30" was always part of the model number. That was a very good banjo and I sold quite a few over the decades. Had I known that Saga was going to drop the model, I would have kept one. Although a copy of the Harmony pot, it did not have dimples or holes for the other 14 brackets.

Apr 20, 2021 - 4:07:25 AM
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2583 posts since 4/7/2010

It looks to me that the head you put on is the wrong size. Harmony Resotone banjos require a 10-7/8" medium crown head.

I see you wrestled with the wrong size and made it fit, but if you ever have to replace the head, make note of what to order and it will be much less of a fight to install.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Apr 20, 2021 - 4:54:52 AM

2313 posts since 9/25/2006

Great to have you here. I love my harmony resotone banjos

Apr 20, 2021 - 7:01:19 AM

beegee

USA

22311 posts since 7/6/2005

Properly set-up, these sound better than they should. The necks tend to be narrow, making playability an issue.

Apr 20, 2021 - 8:07:01 AM

3721 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by beegee

Properly set-up, these sound better than they should. 

I've found that to be true for a lot of cheap banjos. I've sent many of my beginner students to Mike Munford for setup, and am always impressed by the results. (The key word in your comment is "properly"!)

Edited by - Ira Gitlin on 04/20/2021 08:07:45

Apr 20, 2021 - 8:23:15 AM

6 posts since 4/16/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

It looks to me that the head you put on is the wrong size. Harmony Resotone banjos require a 10-7/8" medium crown head.

I see you wrestled with the wrong size and made it fit, but if you ever have to replace the head, make note of what to order and it will be much less of a fight to install.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Bob, thank you, I didnt know about you until after I ordered this head. The adjustments I made to fit this head are easily reversed so I will be ordering the right one from you eventually.

I felt this banjo came with a skin head, it would have been easier to install.  Someone replaced the 5th string tuner with a gold geared tuner. The also installed a Grover bridge. Being named Grover it's only natural. Anyway this being my first banjo of course I just love her.


Apr 20, 2021 - 8:38:23 AM

57150 posts since 12/14/2005

Welcome to the HangOut.

To keep the round dowel from allowing the neck to rotate, I drilled a small hole from the inside, through the body and into the heel, and put a screw in there.

Enjoy!

Apr 20, 2021 - 9:06:58 AM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2620 posts since 3/10/2008

I started on a Kay banjo--the lightweight one with 16 hooks, but older than yours. I bought it used in 1662 as my first banjo, and I still have it. It is not a resotone, but has a mahogany veneered chipboard rim (or so I am told). It came with a skin head and friction tuners that oxidize like lead metal. It has the asymmetrical headstock that resembles flames that came on the Stromberg-Voisenette (spelling?) instruments that preceded Kay.  These days it has Asian-made planetary tuners. The neck is dished, but still playable, and a couple of frets way up the neck are mssing.  Picture of the peghead.


Edited by - Lew H on 04/20/2021 09:09:38

Apr 20, 2021 - 9:28:56 AM
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Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

9868 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Lew H

I bought it used in 1662 as my first banjo, 


Must have been something else you bought. There weren't any Kay banjos in 1662…

Apr 20, 2021 - 10:29:21 AM

6 posts since 4/16/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Banner Blue

All Harmony Reso-Tone rims were made to accept 16 or 30 hooks. On the 16 hook rims, the additional 14 holes were not drilled out. Set up with a light bridge, proper head tension and a good tailpiece allowing downward pressure on the strings/bridge they can sound quite good. The only thing I find annoying is the placement of the 5th string peg--more like the 4th string peg. Another issue is that the wooden dowel that holds the neck to the body is round going through a round hole instead of square, so the neck can rotate out of place easily. Just twist it back into place. Don't overtighten the resonator to the banjo, this can cause the internal dowel to warp and pull the neck angle up. Those are the Reso-Tone quirks.

Harmony Reso-tones are also resistant to becoming possessed by Satan. So you can safely store them near electric guitars as you are doing. ;-) What is there not to like about them?

Thank you sir, she just plays and sounds like a warm old friend. I didn't know it but I think that is a rare picture. There are no acoustic guitars in the picture. She'll protect the electrics then take them over to the dark side.


Apr 20, 2021 - 11:18:19 AM

11285 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Lew H

I started on a Kay banjo--the lightweight one with 16 hooks, but older than yours. I bought it used in 1662 as my first banjo, and I still have it. It is not a resotone, but has a mahogany veneered chipboard rim (or so I am told). It came with a skin head and friction tuners that oxidize like lead metal. It has the asymmetrical headstock that resembles flames that came on the Stromberg-Voisenette (spelling?) instruments that preceded Kay.  These days it has Asian-made planetary tuners. The neck is dished, but still playable, and a couple of frets way up the neck are mssing.  Picture of the peghead.


An early '60s Kay should not have a pressboard (sawdust and glue) rim. 

You'll see that the bottom of this rim is rough—you can also feel it with your fingertips. This is the pressboard rim. If your rim doesn't look and feel like this on the bottom it's multi-laminated plywood.

This is someone else's picture but  I have 2 of these.

Edited by - mikehalloran on 04/20/2021 11:21:14

Apr 20, 2021 - 4:25:46 PM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2620 posts since 3/10/2008

Emiel Oops! 1662. That was a few centuries before I bought the used Kay banjo!

mikehalloran I haven't had the head off the banjo in several decades. I was just going by what someone told me. However, I didn't say I had an early 60s Kay: I said I bought it used in 1962. It seemed old at the time. It does have that mahogany veneer that is visible in your picture, and the same rimrod. If you have any idea as two what decade it might have been made, I would be interested to know.

Apr 20, 2021 - 5:17:51 PM

11285 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Lew H

Emiel Oops! 1662. That was a few centuries before I bought the used Kay banjo!

mikehalloran I haven't had the head off the banjo in several decades. I was just going by what someone told me. However, I didn't say I had an early 60s Kay: I said I bought it used in 1962. It seemed old at the time. It does have that mahogany veneer that is visible in your picture, and the same rimrod. If you have any idea as two what decade it might have been made, I would be interested to know.


I didn't say look at the top with the head off. Look at the bottom with the resonator off. Any Kay purchased/made in 1962 should not have a particle board rim.

No one can identify the age of a Kay from the headstock. A complete set of pictures may place it within a decade—or not. Best to start a new thread instead of hijacking this one about Harmonys.

Apr 20, 2021 - 8:55:41 PM
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6 posts since 4/16/2021

Here is a picture taken today after I mounted an arm rest on her.


 

Apr 24, 2021 - 9:17:02 AM
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Players Union Member

rexhunt

USA

2672 posts since 10/11/2005

I own a Harmony Resotone I bought from a music store in South New Jersey in the early 70s. They were going out of business and I got it as new for $25.  30 brackets with a plastic head and crappy tailpiece. Lost the resonator years ago but with a better bridge and tailpiece it actually sounds pretty decent if you can handle the narrow neck.

Rex

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