If you have followed this blog for a while you might remember my first Rocket (Rocket Version 1).  If you read through that post then you might have seen the comment by a guy about his Harmony Rocket.  Well, here it is!

This Harmony Rocket was built in 1967 in Chicago.  Harmony made this version of the Rocket from ’66 to ’67.  Sometime between ’67 and ’68 they discontinued the single cutaway and produced instead the double cutaway version which I am not a very big fan of.

I am a huge fan of the second incarnation of the gold foil pickups though.  Some call these “double mustache” pickups.  They are very similar to the gold foils except these have adjustable poles and aren’t quite as hot.  I played this guitar back to back with my Harmony Bobkat (Gold Foils).  It seems like the Double Mustaches wouldn’t give me all the tube saturated goodness that I have been getting out of the Gold Foils.  It still needs a bit more set up so I’ll have to keep working on it.

Let’s mention the elephant in the room, as it were.  This guitar is so clean that you might think someone sold me a reissue.  This is not a reissue.  This is the real deal down to the date stamp on the back of the pickups:

I was skeptical at first too.  The finish is shiny and shows no checking.  The frets are tarnished a bit but have almost no playing wear.  The only thing that was wrong with this guitar when I got it was that the rivets in the bridge pup were loose.  I tweaked them a bit and popped them back in and it is good to go now.  I might clean up the pots a bit when I get the chance.

One unique thing about these Harmony guitars is that the necks don’t taper towards the headstock but are one uniform width the whole way.  If you are used to a Fender or Gibson neck then the first 3 frets might feel a bit wide and the 12th fret area might feel a bit skinny.  It really doesn’t feel that different to my hands unless you have just put down another guitar.

My previous Rocket had a rather serious design flaw: no adjustable truss rod.  By 1965 Harmony realized that wouldn’t fly any more especially with their weaker Poplar necks.  This one is lucky to have one but really doesn’t need any adjustment.  In fact, I don’t think any of the screws/nuts had been turned before I took the pickups off for cleaning.  Unfortunately there is really not a good way to tell if that is true until you try to turn the screws!

Here is Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes with her favorite guitar:  1966 Harmony Rocket H54/1.  It is very similar to the H59 except it has only two pickups and is the double cutaway version.  Have you heard the Shakes yet?  Go check them out.  Here is what Brittany says about her Harmony Rocket in an interview for innocentwords.com: 

“I have a ’66 Harmony Rocket that I am in love with.  It’s cherry red.  I play it out of a ’66 Silvertone 1483 with an intact Jensen 12″ speaker.  It can glitter, it can growl, it can rock, it can lull you to sleep.  So far, it’s the perfect rig.”

I have GOT to get me a Silvertone 1483.  I have been looking for a good 60s Silvertone amp for a while.  I think it is safe to say that Brittany is a fan of her rig.  What do you think about her tone?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

This article has 3 comments

  1. Austin Miller Reply

    I have a really cool ’66 Airline Rocket I got about a year ago. Its help up really well over the years too. It almost looks new. It has the Airline argyle diamond pickups. Its a killer guitar.

  2. Dean Vusikas Reply

    My H54 is from 66 or 67 because it has the Trus Rod and Double Moustache Gold Tone pickups instead of the earlier Single Stash version ;, 2 of them unlike your 3 pickup version.
    I was wondering if your 3 pickup version has a similar issue as mine? They made the pole spacing 50mm for the neck and 51mm for the bridge. The width at the nut is 43mm but the width at the end of the fretboard is only 2″ !! So in order to not have strings slip off the fretboard you have to sacrifice the string spacing at the Bridge all the way down to 1 7/8″ , and evwn at tbat width the High E string does not really cross over the High E pole piece completely , it only barely catches the edge.
    One of those curious problems that I don’t known how to correct.
    Basically they just needed to make these necks gradually WIDER all the way down to the end so that theybare 2 1/8″-2 1/4″ wide instead of only 2″.
    Nothing can really be done with that now besides living with a really narrow string spacing at the Bridge OR living with with strings slipping off the fretboard with the slightest bending on the Bigh E string.
    I wonder if your 3 pickup guitar has the same dilemma?? Thanks, Dean

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