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Harmony & Teisco Guitars To Be Reintroduced At NAMM

...the birth of rock ’n’ roll in the ’50s and ’60s, got their start on Harmony and Teisco instruments.

The Harmony Guitar Company was launched in Chicago in 1892 by Wilhelm Schultz, who led the way in introducing assembly line production to the guitar industry. The Harmony plant, with its steam-powered wood processing machinery, emerged as the industry’s foremost low-cost producer and by 1920 was turning out 200,000 instruments a year. Sometime in the 1930s, Schultz’s heirs sold an interest in the company to its largest customer, Sears & Roebuck Company. As a practice, Sears took an ownership position in its key suppliers. By the 1960s, Harmony was unquestionably the world’s largest guitar maker, producing nearly 500,000 instruments of all styles annually.

Interestingly, the rise of Teisco and other Japanese guitar manufacturers brought about the demise of Harmony. Teisco had been launched in 1946 postwar Japan by Atswo Kaneko, a prominent Hawaiian and Spanish guitarist, and electrical engineer Doryu Matsuda. Initially, the company supplied the local market out of a small factory in Tokyo. However, as guitar demand surged in the ’60s, and Harmony and its arch-competitor Kay were struggling with huge backorders, Teisco found a ready market for its guitars in the U.S. and Europe. By 1974, low-cost competition from the likes of Teisco and other Japanese producers forced Harmony out of business.

Harmony’s product line, which included flat top steel-strings, archtop jazz guitars, classical guitars, and solid0body electrics, borrowed heavily from the designs of premium makers including Fender, Martin, and Gibson. At the time, the prestige brands were content to let Harmony pursue entry-level price points with near-copies of their instruments. The Teisco brand, by contrast, offered wild and original shapes, that were offered under the Kent, Silvertone, Norma, and Teisco Del Ray brands. Teisco was acquired by Kawai in 1967.

BandLab Technologies is a collective of global music brands based on founder Meng Kuoc’s goal to connect the world of music. The flagship digital product is a social music platform that enables creators to make music and share the creative process with other musicians and fans. Other notable brands within the portfolio include Rolling Stone, the world’s leading voice in pop culture and music since 1967, MONO, an award-winning music lifestyle product company, and Swee Lee, Asia’s leading online retailer and distributor of musical instruments and pro audio brands.

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