ID: 1930s Weymann Archtop Guitar

New post style, folks -- "ID" -- as in, identification. I get asked quite a bit to identify instruments via emails and I figured, considering the vast majority of disinformation and misinformation provided on the net (sometimes by myself, which I try to correct as much as possible), it would be good to start posting some of the more interesting ones.

Mr. Ben asked me about this one which is currently on eBay, labeled Weymann.

Right away, I think of this as a Chicago build. It's certainly not an instrument made in Philadelphia by Weymann (of banjo and mandolin fame). Those instruments are in the same quality scale as Vegas and Martin products and this one clearly is not. It's mid-grade, not high-grade, but still probably a good-sounding instrument with a big voice.

What it is, is a pressed-top (but solid spruce) archtop guitar with pressed back as well (more than likely a laminate back with solid sides -- mahogany). It looks entirely like a Harmony product to me, but the segmented f-holes are rarer to find on them (and more likely seen on Regals and Kays). Still, the body shape and size (16") as well as the construction method, heel size and cut, neck cut, and the headstock shape all point to Harmony origins. I've worked on dozens of similar period Harmony archtops so all of this is sort of obvious to me. Even the rosewood used in the fretboard, dot inlay style, and the binding used on the edges of the board are much more "Harmony" than its competitors.

Finding an ink stamp inside with a Harmony-style number would seal the deal.

The whole point of this post is... never trust a name, especially if the product looks fishy! This isn't a rare Philadelphia-made instrument. Weymann was probably either out of business at the time this was built (late 1930s) or had subcontracted with Harmony to provide a line of guitars since they weren't making any guitars at the time.

That all said -- after a good setup this instrument is probably a nice addition to anyone's old archtop collection and would make a fine blues or gut-bucket jazz guitar.


Charlie said...

Hi Jake,
Yes almost certainly this is a Harmony made instrument for Weymann, who had ceased most of their guitar production by the early 1930's. These probably were made to Weymann's specifications and it would be interesting to see if the quality was a cut above similarly made Harmony labeled guitars.

Fine Archtops said...

I'd love to hear how it sounds.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

interesting back story. I have the same guitar and know very little about it. Mine had a hole for a neck positioned puckup cut in it, as well as holes for volume and tone knobs and an input. When I found an old busted Harmony in the trash, I stripped it of its electrical guts and retro-fit them into this one with ease. So, if you think it's half Harmony then it seems I found a good match anyway.

GuitarMike69 said...

Hi, I've had a few of these Weymann archtops from the 30s and they are amazing guitars. Definitely made by Harmony and they are professional grade instruments. They are nearly identical to some of the Cremona IV archtops, also very similar to the Fischer, S.S. Stewart and Royal Crest archtops from this era, all made in Chicago by Harmony. (the 40s models are great too, but those are the pressed top versions, great but not as wonderful as the 30s instruments) These were Definitely all made with solid wood and with carved spruce tops. Compared to a Gibson L-48 with laminated back (as most have), there's no contest. Solid wood with carved top wins every time. Please note that Harmony made (acoustic) guitars were ALL made with solid wood from the 20s into the early 70's. I've had the neck off of 100's of them and can verify with absolute certainty. Thanks a million Jake, your site is a wealth of information for us collectors and restoration guys. You Rock!
Cheers, GuitarMike