The Harmony Company

 In the 1930s, even the venerable Harmony Company, manufacturers of a wide variety of conventional stringed  instruments, got into the fretless zither business.  They produced two types.  The first was an attempt to cash in on the Hawaiian music craze - its melody strings were tuned to an A chord and played with a slide, and it was labeled either Hawaiian Harp or Honolulu Guitar Harp. 

The second, the Hill Country Harp, was a startling throwback to the Harp-O-Chord of the early 1900s - it used a harmonica, clamped in a swiveling bracket, for its melody.  And it used probably the most economic means ever of generating accompaniment chords, producing 4 chords out of only 9 strings.  There were individual bass notes for each chord, and a single set of 5 strings for the remainder of the chord.  A set of keys, reminiscent of those on the oriental bulbul tarang, fretted vaying subsets of this group to change their notes into chords which fit with the different bass notes.

The 1931 catalog from the Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. included a listing for the Hawaiian Guitar Harp (although the instrument itself was labeled "Hawaiian Harp").  The 1934 Sears catalog lists the Hill Country Harp.

These don't appear to have been on the market very long, but there are still plenty of examples around - often they can be found with their original instruction books.


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