Alden H-45 Stratotone Mars Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar, made by Harmony , c. 1962

Alden H-45 Stratotone Mars Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar, made by Harmony ,  c. 1962
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Item # 8752
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Alden H-45 Stratotone Mars Model Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar, made by Harmony, c. 1962, made in Chicago, black lacquer with sparkles finish, laminated maple body, hardwood neck with ebonized fingerboard, original brown two-tone chipboard case.

Harmony's H-45 Mars was the lowest priced of the new hollowbody Stratotone line introduced in 1958 with a single pickup, non-adjustable truss rod and simple electronics. The catalog described it thus:

"...Provide(s) outstanding value in its price class. Hollow 'tone chamber' construction. Ebonized maple fingerboard. Straight-line hardwood neck with built-in steel reinforcing rod. White celluloid bindings. Adjustable bridge. Hinged tailpiece. Single pickup built into body, highly responsive. Tone and volume control. Special slide-switch on mounting plate permits quick change from bass emphasis used for rhythm to treble emphasis used for take-off or solo playing. $72.00, C45 carrying case, $10.00".

This unpretentious little "tuxedo finish" guitar is an interesting variation, with a different, more dramatic look than the standard sunburst model Harmony sold themselves. It is specially branded for the Aldens company, a mail-order retailer that by the 1950s was the fourth largest of its kind. Like Sears and Wards, Aldens sourced guitars from Harmony to sell in their catalogs. These can be identified by the "A" logo in a crest stenciled on the headstock. Several different models were offered in the '50s and '60s; the H-45 was given a "black-with-sparkles" finish treatment also favored by Sears for some of their Silvertone models, with "the kids like sparkles" seeming to have been the operative philosophy.

In any guise the H-45 is a bit of a garage band classic, offering a very good value in a light and handy electric guitar for the price. This one was built sometime in or after 1962, the year the pinstripe and "atomic note" graphic was added to the pickguard. This guitar is actually surprisingly great-sounding -- there is a lot more acoustic response than one might expect and the single DeArmond pickup is chunky without losing definition. It seems built to play "Gloria" in the garage all night!

Pro users are few, although Brian Jones did use the two-pickup version for the earliest Rolling Stones gigs and recordings. While not a professional-grade instrument even by Harmony Standards, the H-45 is a very cool and friendly little guitar, with a great vintage vibe at a still-budget price.
 
Overall length is 38 in. (96.5 cm.), 13 1/4 in. (33.7 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 Harmony has some light wear and tear but remains a nice all-original example. There are dings and scuffs to the finish but nothing major, with the exception of a decent amount of "curly cord burn" melt marks on the back. The hard plastic pickguard has a couple of small crack repairs at screw holes and a chip missing by the bass side of the pickup. The original adjustable bridge has an old crack repair but is solid. This one has just been neatly refretted and the fingerboard trued, and we can pretty much guarantee it's the best-playing example on the planet! It still rests in a somewhat battered but functional original chipboard case. Very Good + Condition.