Harmony Stratotone Mars H-46 Thinline Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1959)

Harmony  Stratotone Mars H-46 Thinline Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1959)
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Item # 10512
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Harmony Stratotone Mars H-46 Model Thinline Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1959), made in Chicago, sunburst lacquer finish, laminated maple body, maple neck with ebonized fingerboard, original two-tone chipboard case.

Harmony's H-46 Mars was near the bottom of the new hollow Stratotone line introduced in 1958 designed to "Provide outstanding value in their price class" but still quite a decent guitar for the time. With two DeArmond pickups, a non-adjustable "Steel reinforced" neck and a quite functional stacked-pot electronics rig this is a good sounding and playing instrument even considering its budget origins.

The Harmony catalog described it thus: "...made with all the features of the new hollow "Tone Chamber" construction. Ebonized maple fingerboard. Straight-line hardwood neck with built-in steel reinforcing rod. Finely finish in warm sunburst effect showing the grain of the wood. White celluloid bindings. Adjustable bridge. Hinged tailpiece. Dual built in pickups, each with tone and volume control. 3-position selector switch...for maximum tone variation. $97.50, C45 carrying case, $10.00."

While not as flashy as the more upscale H-49 Stratotone Jupiter (which cost $42.00 more!) this unpretentious little guitar is a garage band classic, offering a very good value in a light and handy twin-pickup electric. This one was built in 1959, the first full year the model was offered and is somewhat more nicely made than many later examples. In England in 1962-3 Brian Jones used a nearly identical H-46 (made a couple of years later) for all the early Rolling Stones gigs and recordings. While not intended as a professional-grade instrument -- even by Harmony Standards -- the H-46 is a very cool and friendly little guitar to play, with a great sound and cool vintage vibe at a comparatively still-budget price.
Overall length is 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm.), 13 1/8 in. (33.3 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 in. (610 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This is a very nice early example of this cool if little-celebrated Stratotone variant. It all original except the lead pickup has been perfectly rewound by the master of these things, Tom Brantley. Other than this there are no alterations, the hardware is all original and the finish has only some light wear here and there. The back of the neck is down to the primer in the lower positions, with some light attendant fret and fingerboard wear. The lacquer overall shows small dings and scrapes, a couple of rubbed-through spots on the rims from case contact and a couple of circular "strap burn" marks on the lower back. This Stratotone still sounds and plays as it should, a nice funky little Harmony with a cool vibe still in the original case, solid with an improvised handle. Excellent - Condition.