Ive been in a phase lately of being fascinated with vintage no-name guitars. Does anyone have a list of guitars like these such as Silvertone, Kay, Harmony and etc. any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Hunter
The cool thing about many vintage no-names is that good tonewood was abundant in the good ol' days ... so there is a fair chance that a garden variety Harmony guitar would have been constructed of some fairly decent wood by today's standards.
I believe there is a long list of guitar manufacturers and luthiers at this link.
"Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power." - Benito Mussolini
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." - Sinclair Lewis (1935)
"History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is." - Thomas Jefferson
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” - Oscar Wilde
I wouldn't consider Kay and Harmony to be "no-name" guitars, these were pretty large brands back in the day. While they catered to the lower end of the price range and sold a lot of "student" models, anyone would have known what you had if you said you had a Harmony.
Guitarists usually started on a Harmony, then moved up to a Fender or Gibson if they stuck with the guitar. First guy I ever knew who had a Strat had a Harmony solid-body stashed in the back of his closet- he put it away when he got his Strat.
One of the guitarists in my junior high garage band started on a Kay hollow-body, then got a Gretsch.
Wood-wise, I think most of these guitars were made from decent wood. Usually, where these guitars had weak points, it was in the quality of the tuners and bridge, and of the neck. Nowadays, you can buy a cheap guitar and take it to a guitar tech for some massaging to solve these sorts of issues. Not so back in the 1960s, when most music shops didn't have someone who did set up on guitars.
Also, remember that brand name does not equate to manufacturer, then or now. Many manufacturers made multiple brands. Silvertones were a brand name of Sears, and were made by Danelectro (at least for a period of time). Valco made National, Supro, and Airline guitars (Airlines were sold through Montgomery Ward). Later on in the 1960s, with an influx of Japanese guitars, brand names proliferated, but there were only a handful of factories actually making those guitars.
VintAxe.com, which Cynical linked you to above, has a forum for questions on vintage guitars. I'm a member, although I only post there occasionally. Steve, who runs the site, has a library of old catalogs to which one can subscribe for a fee- guys who are restoring old guitars use the catalogs as a data source for pix, parts, etc. But he'll also answer questions in the forums on IDing unknown guitars and so forth.