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models 1211 models - images 17620 images


models H53 - Rocket 1 pickup
Electric hollowbody - Sunburst then red in 1963
Production year(s) : 1959-1967 (other years possible, not verified)

1 pickup - Single cutaway - H53/1 is the double cutaway later (1968) model. H53 model number was also previously used (fifties ?) on a full body sunburst archtop (Silvertone)

images 57 images in database
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Scale24"1/4615 mm

Related to this model

34 comments | Add your comment !

  • doanclan@theedge.ca - 2006-11-18
    I just acquired a 1964 H53 Rocket from Avenue Guitars in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
    The Rocket is in VG condition with a few nicks and scratches but is otherwise outstanding with excellent action and a tone and vibe that takes me back to my teen years.
    Even my wife who never really notices the tonal differences between other guitars I own has commented that the Rocket has a sweet and distinctive sound.
    I owned a Harmony solid body back in the seventies which I also enjoyed for several years but sold off my collection in 84 when I left Ontario. (Boy have I regretted that!!) I don't recall the vintage but it was in rough condition and I ended up refinishing the body natural. What I do recall is that it was my "playing" guitar at a time when I had half a dozen guitars including a couple of Gibsons (62 Melody Maker single pick up and an SG).
    The H53 is a keeper and one guitar that I will be holding onto for the foreseeable future.
  • chad - 2006-12-28
    I have a rocket that was my guitar teachers, my parents bought it from him for me when I was in
    sixth grade. I have been playing on it for 17 years and althogh I now have other guitars, I keep coming back to the old rocket. My guitar is red and has the earlier of the two pick ups used, it dosn't have an adjustable truss rod eather so I am pretty sure it,s an earlier model. There is something about these old guitars,eventhough they were cheaper made they still have a nice sound and great playability. I love mine and could never sell it.
  • Perma Frost - 2007-07-07
    I have one of these gems but need to get some info on the pickups such as a wiring diagram, if anyone can help that would be brilliant.
    I have been playing the guitar with no amplification and it still rocks, great sound.
  • Phil - 2007-08-13
    I just bought a vintage 1963 Harmony Rocket H53 that came equipped with one gold foil DeArmond pickup. The Harmony Rocket has to be one of the coolest guitars I've ever played. The action on the guitar is terrific and the DeArmond pickup sounds amazing with no background hum. The guitar puts out a great vintage blues/rockabilly tone that modern guitars like the Epiphone Dot and Wildkat only dream of sounding like. The neck on the guitar is a little chunkier than I am normally used to, but it is not uncomfortable to play. The only thing I wish this guitar had would be an adjustable truss rod, otherwise this guitar is an amazing bargain. I would absolutely recommend trying out one of these Harmony Rockets if you can find one.
  • Jon - 2007-11-13
    I live in Vancouver BC and my first real guitar was H53 Harmony Rocket that my dad bought me in around 1963/4 and which I traded in 1968 for what I believe was the first Ovation Roundback Accoustic Guitar brought into Canada by Pamus Music in Vancouver. That guitar was unfortunately destroyed in 1996 but the neck lives on in a custom Larivee.
    I now own 14 guitars including a number of Gibsons, Fenders and am actively bidding for an H53 on Ebay as I write this. Hope to add it to my collection and play a bit of blues at some gigs. It will look good beside my new Gibson ES-137 Custom, also a single cutaway semi hollow
  • Rob - 2008-01-11
    Awesome i had one of the cherry red models when i was young but never had any pictures. Thanks Rob
  • Kerry Ayres - 2008-05-24
    I have a '66 with a newer bigsby installed. Super sweet tone, nice playability. I just need to find a new case for it...the two tone chipboard case is coming apart.
  • pedgalad - 2008-10-02
    i have a rocket from spring of 1963. it was originally sunburst and one of the last sunburst ones made, but it was refinished black with just a tad of the natural maple in the center. the volume and tone controls are amazingly wide on here. the action is really nice and you get that classic 1960s jangle.the tuners need oiled pretty badly, but other than that, it stays in tune pretty long. the bottom strap button broke so it does need some repairs. but it has lasted without anything major on it for 45 years.
  • rexco54@gmail.com - 2008-10-03
    I have a mongomery ward guitar and like it and it looks just like a harmony
  • John - 2008-10-14
    I had the pleasure to play one of these last week it has one of the sweetest tones ive ever heard :( the neck was awesome too.. ATM currently trapesing the net looking for 1 to buy
  • Big D - 2008-10-21
    about 30 years ago I found one of these guitars at a goodwill store. It was painted black and I didn't know just what it was, but it looked coolso I took it up front to ask the price. The lady said it was $2.50, but that day was half price day so I got it for $1.25. Best guitar deal I've ever had!
  • mick - 2009-02-04
    I inherited my Dad's H53, it came in very nice condition, the pickguard was broken in two. I made a new one from Lexan. My Dad replaced the bridge so he could set the intonation. I play it from time to time, it sounds great. The neck has some wear on the back from a lot of playing. Great guitar!
  • toddranua@yahoo.com - 2009-06-22
    When I was eight or nine (1972-1973)I stopped at a garage sale on my way home one day, there was an electric guitar with a price tag of $10.00, I ran all the way home, I remember my father siting at the kitchen table and after pestering him for about ten minutes he agreed to take a walk down the street to check it out, he bought the red 1965 H53 and to my dismay it was his guitar when we got it home, the only thing wrong was the pick guard was missing, to this day it's a very nice guitar, on fathers day 2009 some 37 years later he handed it over to me, I love this guitar and it's priceless as far as im concerned, now if I can protect it from my own five year old son it will be his in,say 15-20 years! THANKS DAD!!
  • mark - 2009-07-15
    i own a h53 1963 red harmony single pickup my brother picked it up for at a yardsale for four dollars and it plays great the only thing missing is the pick guard
  • wreck53 - 2009-09-26
    I just bought the carcass [body and neck, that's it]of an H53, made before 1966 judging by the SRN printed where the truss-rod cover would be. I had been trying to figure out which of the shallow hollow electric models had truss rods and which didn't before buying and, after making some notes, I came up with the following:
    "A note about Harmony model numbers: Numerical order is not chronological order, and one cannot say that all models in a certain range, e.g. H53 - H79, are of a certain type, although that is nearly true. All of the models in that range except H55 are electric archtops, and most [i.e., all but H57 and H58, H62 and H63, and H65] are “thin” or shallow hollowbody electrics, for a total of about 20 models.
    All models with a foreslash in the number [e.g., H53/1], are double-cutaway versions of the earlier, single-cutaway Rockets with the same number minus the “ /1" [e.g., H53/1 is the double-cut version of the earlier H53] and, conversely. all double-cut Rocket model numbers have the foreslash [e.g., H53/1 and H59/1]., But not all double-cut models have the foreslash [e.g., H60 Meteor and H64].
    "All of the shallow hollowbody electrics had DeArmond pickups made by Rowe Industries of Toledo, Ohio, but there were two main types: the smaller [e.g. “Golden Tone”, “double moustache” or “double toaster”] type, which appeared on all Rockets, and the larger type, which appeared only on Meteors and not until 1967. Although Rockets eventually had three of the smaller pickups [e.g., Model H59] Meteors were fancier than Rockets. All Meteors had two pickups and a bound fretboard with large pearloid block inlays starting with the third fret. Other than that, it appears that the main difference between the Rockets and Meteors until 1966 was that only the latter had a truss rod, at least from 1960. Appointments of models H72 and H75 through H79 are fancier than those of either Rockets or Meteors.
    "The shallow hollowbody electrics began around 1958 to1959 with the single-cutaway Rocket models H53 and H54 and Meteor models H70 and H71. The other single-cutaway Rockets are H56 [two pickups and vibrato] and H59 [from 1960], the latter of which was the first of the three-pickup models.
    "The single-cutaway Meteors are Models H70 [3-color sunburst] and H71 [blond].
    "Beginning in 1961, Harmony introduced three models with a Telecaster-like body shape. Models H66, H73 and H74 have these Tele-shaped bodies. Models H66 and H74 were the first of these [1961].
    "Double-cutaway models were introduced around 1966. Models H60 and H64 [1967-70] are double-cut Meteors, and were the first of the double-cutaway models. [Double-cutaway Rockets began in 1968.]
    "Around 1966, Harmony apparently decided to go after its upmarket competitors’ thin-hollow-electric customers a bit more aggressively. Models featuring appointments fancier than any before them were introduced around the same time as the first double-cutaway models. These fancier double-cutaway models include: Model H72, which had unique, bound sound holes; H75, which had three pickups, pearloid fretboard blocks from the first fret and bound f-holes; H76, which is an H75 with a Bigsby; H77, which is a ‘redburst’ version of H75; H78, an H77 with a Bigsby; and H79, the 12-string version."
    I hope that the above notes are reasonably accurate and that they'll be of some use to other guys like me looking for the right shallow-hollow-electric Harmony!
  • Chris Stein - 2010-08-15
    this is Chris from Blondie... awesome work cataloging these great old instruments... my first guitar was a Harmony Rocket, blonde to black burst... i got it in 1962 when i was 12... you have shots of an identical one
  • Travis Davis from (Camera 27) - 2010-08-26
    I just picked up a Tobacco sunburst H53 and it is in fantastic shape. I usually only play H59 Rockets but couldn't pass up on an oppurtunity to grab this H53 for my 8 year old son. 20 years and many sought after guitars bought and sold and I still come back to the tone of the gold-foil pickups from a Harmony Rocket.
  • Buffalo0ne - 2010-09-06
    Just got my H53/1 back after 25 years, my friend still had it in his basement with the neck off.
    I couldn't read any of the date or model stamps, but found a perfect date stamped on the underside of the top, between the bridge and trapeze "Aug 17 1964" perfect dark stamp, but you have to look through the f-holes.
  • jimmy vapid - 2010-12-11
    a great guitar. i bought mine in buffalo new york in 2010 at a swap meet for 300$ and it is perfect. surprisingly not dirty sounding, but nice and clean, untill turned up of course. the tp has a small crack that seem to be a problem. reccomended guitar.
  • Donm@isra.org - 2011-02-04
    My first guitar was a Harmony Rocket, Red, single pickup, double cutaways... started playing in late '67. I'm certain on the double cutaways as I remember often dropping a pick into the one behind the pick guard and havning to shake the guitar upsidedown to get it out!
    Maybe the '68 models started production in late 67?
    Wish I still ahd that guitar, traded it for a Tiesco:( Silly me...
  • Bruce Taylor - 2012-10-17
    I have just finished a partial restoration on my 1967 harmony H-53. When I got it the fret board was separated from the neck near the nut. Needless to say it made it unplayable, unless you were after a sitar sound. I had to find the proper tuners as they had been replaced back in the 70's with aftermarket ones. The pick guard was also missing and has been replaced with a new reproduction. I glued the fret board back together and set it up and I now have a very nice guitar. This was a wall hanger as far as I can tell. There is a hole at the top on the back of the headstock from a nail or screw used to hang it up and the front has faded to an almost orange color while the back and sides are still a nice vibrant red. They used beautiful birds eye figured wood back in the day, for a “cheap” guitar! As for it being considered cheap its 45 yeas old and it’s still going. I play it through a 70’s ARC tube amp (about 2 watts) with a EH holy grail reverb and a tube screamer, great blues tone through the single moustache pickup.
  • asc - 2013-01-02
    i have a custom built or custom studio harmony rocket its a h 53 but it came original with two pickups and 2 knobs not four and i have another one from the 40s i think it had 2 knobs on the body and two on the pickgaurd and it has a skull like design (logo) on the headstock
  • Frank - 2013-02-11
    My first real guitar was a Sunburst Harmony Rocket 1, purchased new in 1960. It was affordable...important to a teenager paying for it from a newspaper route. This guitar was very forgiving to a kid just learning. Traded it in a two years later on a Stratocaster, which was not forgiving at all.
  • Adrian - 2013-02-18
    I just traded for a red harmony rocket, H53 I think. It' has a single gold pickup, 2 knobs. I haven't plugged it into an amp yet, but it is an amazing guitar to play!
  • Tony Raven, FrugalGuitarist - 2013-08-05
    I bought a new Cry Baby wah and busted amp from a co-worker for $150. He practically begged me to take a beat-up old guitar off his hands, too, so I caved. I guess you've probably figured it was a Rocket 53.
    I was expecting to get a box of wood slivers with a few salvageable parts. What's wrong with it? Well, the tiny point of the pickguard (maybe 1/4") is broken off, and there's a missing ferrule around one tuner post. (The knobs have gone a bit creme, clearly darker than the pickguard.) Other than some finish checking and a bit of dust, it's so primo it'd make you cry, at least 85%. (And even that awful blue-lined cardboard case is in fair shape, with one pulled-out hinge and missing the "gear compartment" lid.) A couple shots of contact cleaner and it was good to rock.
    Anyway, having researched the beast, I'm here to pass along some transitions I've seen in the 53 model. They didn't all happen at once, so there's all sorts of variant 53s out there. Much may apply to other models, but what do I know...?
    COLOR: sunburst --> red
    HEADSTOCK: "steel reinforced neck" --> adjustable trussrod & "USA" cover
    PICKUP: "S" --> "mustache"
    PICKGUARD: "modern"/"arch" logo --> "script" logo
    PICKUP SUPPORT: small dark-stained wood --> big white plastic
    I'm certain there's some official dates, because I have yet to see (for instance) a sunburst with anything but the first entries. Mine is date-marked S-66, so fairly late, but while it's red and has the script logo, it's non-adjustable, with a wood-mounted "S" pickup. I'd guess that it may have been the result of sweeping leftover parts out of the corners!!
  • Ralph - 2013-11-16
    I have had my H53 for 47 years. This was the third guitar I owned. My first guitar was a Montclair Arch Top that my research says was also built by Harmony.
  • Gabe - 2015-01-27
    I have one that has 2 mustash pickups and a bridge like no of the ones up there have can Simone tell me what year mine is at gabegibson88@gmail.com
  • Gabe - 2015-01-27
    I have one that has 2 mustash pickups and a bridge like no of the ones up there have can Simone tell me what year mine is at gabegibson88@gmail.com
  • Gabe - 2015-01-27
    I was working for a woman making granola bars and I goin one in here back room she said yea you can have it it was my step fathers and I hate him. Take it!!
  • Gabe - 2015-01-27
    I was working for a woman making granola bars and I goin one in here back room she said yea you can have it it was my step fathers and I hate him. Take it!!
  • SteveO - 2015-10-31
    I just bought H53 Rocket #3941. This guitar was given to me buy my uncle in 1979. A few years later I traded it in at Elderly Instruments. Fast forward to last week when the guitar showed up on the local CL. I emailed the seller and sure enough, it was my old guitar. Of course I bought it, and it's in pretty good shape for being away for over 30 years.
  • Chuck - 2017-02-08
    Years ago I acquired a single pickup yellow burst
    single cutaway and dated the pots to 1960. This
    guitar had very very thin wood sides. They were
    only about 1/2 the thickness of later models.
    It played very loudly like a flattop guitar due
    to the resonance of the body. It sounded even
    better than the one I had when I was a kid which
    was one of the last ones made. It was a beautiful playing machine. Cupcake knobs, No truss plate, early gold diamond pickups. The only mod I made was I put professional closed tuners on the guitar, but painted the knobs the exact tint of white like the originals. This is the pride of my small collection. Glad to see other guys appreciate these USA made kids guitars that could give top end guitars like Gibson, and Gretsch a run for their money.
  • geeyp - 2018-05-08
    I still have my red Harmony Rocket (single cutaway, single DeArmond pickup) guitar purchased new in 1965. Original case, original everything and I love it more than ever. I think it sounds perfect through the two 12s Haynes amp. The amplifier has no extra sounds offered, just the sweetest tone and huge sound. I appreciate this site.
  • kristian ford - 2019-04-25
    My very first electric guitar!!

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