Harptone 420-S Thinline Hollow Body Electric Guitar , c. 1970
Harptone 420-S Model Thinline Hollow Body Electric Guitar, c. 1970, made in New Jersey, sunburst lacquer finish, laminated maple body, mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case. Item # 4042
A beautifully made and very rare example of 1960's American guitar design, this Harptone can be considered one of the lost instruments of its era. The somewhat convoluted history behind this guitar binds the names Standel, Harptone and Koontz together, with nods to DeArmond and Guild as well! In the late 1960's Standel, based in California, was an amplifier manufacturer that had made several half-hearted attempts to get into guitar production. Somehow they hooked up with the Harptone company of Newark, New Jersey which was a well-known case manufacturer with some background in guitar production. Harptone comissioned New Jersey luthier Sam Koontz, known for his original archtop creations, to design a line of hollowbody instruments and set up the production line. The guitars were offered in a range of models branded originally as Standel and distributed out of California.
Soon enough, the Standel company ran into financial trouble and began to fail; the guitars being built in new Jersey were re-branded Harptone, and sold for another few years by that company. Although the Harptone line lasted into the early '70's the company soon became focused on acoustic guitars and the electric line was discontinued. This interesting "transition" example was actually built as a Standel, then had that name blanked out on the headstock and the Harptone name added-this is the only one like this we have ever seen!
These instruments feature very high-grade workmanship throughout, with a vibrant sunburst finish and quality hardware. The line was fairly extensive, all guitars being hollow body electrics ranging from full-depth carved top 17" to 16" thinlines with several different cutaway options. The most distinctive common feature was the unique Koontz-designed headstock with the large center scoop. This model 420-S is closest in design to a Guild Starfire IV, with a thin double cutaway body, two pickups and a Gibson-style wiring rig with a master voulme control. The neck is thin and comfortable and overall this rates as a very good-playing guitar. These guitars were introduced in the late 1960's at the point where solidbodies were resurgant; had they been introduced a few years earlier, they would no doubt be much better known today. This is a very fine vintage American-made instrument at a reasonable price.
Overall length is 42 1/4 in. (107.3 cm.), 16 in. (40.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 5/8 in. (625 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.). All original except pickups replaced (probably when new) with period Gibson patent number Humbuckers and an added period Bigsby. Plays and sounds excellent, a very versatile guitar. Overall Excellent Condition.
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