c.1962 Harmony H45 Stratotone "Mars" Electric Guitar

This iteration of the Harmony Stratotone was made between 1962 and 1965 and I didn't spy a date on this instrument so I can't get more specific about this particular one. That said, it's totally the heir of the earlier, way-cool Stratotone models and certainly kicks out a whole lot of cool and a deep, thick, wonderful blues/rock tone. Heck -- turning down the tone pot means you can grab an airy, growly tone useful for jazz as well.

I picked this guitar up in a trade and it was pretty much ready to go when I got it. My small amount of work included cleaning, tightening of parts, and light setup at the bridge and nut. I also "set" the floating bridge in (intoned) place with a couple of tiny screws so that folks (like myself) who get carried away when playing electric won't knock the bridge out of place when having a good time.

I used to play a lot of electric on an old early-60s Kay Vanguard which is very similar in tone and make (thin hollowbody plus DeArmond-style single coil pickup) to this guy -- that transparent but gutsy blues/rock tone that's so wide-ranging in terms of application. Guitars like this do great for vintage genres but can also totally rock out for new "alternative" rock as well as heavier modern garage-rock sounds

This guitar is 100% original except for 5 of the string post ferrules which I added from vintage stock to complete the headstock. Bone nut, cool "atomic" logo.

Fast, comfy neck has a medium C shape and original frets in great condition. The board itself looks like dyed maple or similar while the dots are faux-pearl (pearloid). There's a mild radius to the board as well and the neck itself is good and straight and supported by a non-adjustable (steel bar) rod. It has a 24 1/8" scale length (quick, short-scale).

Cool pickguard, cool pickup, cool pickup cover. The styling is just great!

Adjustable bridge is original and works just fine.

So -- there's a volume and a tone pot and one switch. The switch lets you go to a "pure" pickup signal (no filtering through the tone pot) to a filterted signal. This lets you switch between a nice, full-treble lead position to an adjusted sound. If you like to play in a few distinct styles this simple but effective wiring makes a huge difference for this as a player without having to adjust amp settings or play with lots of pedals. To me, this is super practical since I'm the kind of guy who plays mostly with full-on treble (no cut) but once in a while likes to switch to a mellow jazz tone.

Who doesn't love double binding on the body?

Nice sunburst! The body is all-solid birch.

The bolt-on neck makes this a very practical guitar.

The original chip case serves just fine, too!


Tim Dempsey said...

Sweet Jake! I've got an Alden Tuxedo, which I understand was the Midwest version of this guitar. I love it!

tigertiger2010@live.com said...

Harmony Stratotone Mars H45Guitar Pick Guard?
I have the same Mars,black line atomic logo as pictures,,,almost,The lower half of my Logo pickguard is missing.Please let me know if anyone can send me a "correct outline of pickguard"from below strings would be all I need,My PU is mounted on what is left of pickguard,Thank you and Have a great day everyone.

Anonymous said...

If you remove the pick guard, the date should be stamped inside the body. I think this model started in 1959, not 1962. Mine was made in 1960

Antebellum Instruments said...

I was dating it by the features: pickguard type, pickup cover type, etc. It has to be 1962 at the earliest. At least that's what I remember when I was looking up info on it. FYI, there was no stamp on this particular guit (that happens).