Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

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I have a Stella by Harmony guitar that I bought not too long back for $50, the bridge is lifting and I suspect it'll need a neck reset ...

Stella Harmony Reissue ST-2000

I have a Stella by Harmony guitar that I bought not too long back for $50, the bridge is lifting and I suspect it'll need a neck reset too. I didn't look too closely and bought it assuming it was vintage but now I discovered that its actually a reissue made in China.

The model is ST-2000 and it is made in China and up until this point I knew nothing and could find nothing about the newer reissued Stellas.

The new information I've encountered is based off of Reverb listings which include people who appear to have knowledge on the subject.

These were reissues made in the 1990's. The company that made them is no longer in business. 

Which I was able to verify by zooming in on the listing's pictures for key information regarding the manufacturer

The customer service number is no longer in service and I tracked down the business, MBT International, to their Yelp page which reports it as closed. There is another business supposedly based in Charleston, SC as well with the same name but their website states that their headquarters is in Connecticut and they make stage lighting equipment.

This goes further as the page states "Distributed by MBT International under exclusive license from Harmony Industries Inc" and that business name brings me to another defunct music store in Illinois. Spreading my search to the Harmony Wikipedia page has this snippet of info
 In the early 2000s, an unrelated company, the Westheimer Corp., based in Lake Barrington, Illinois briefly imported "reissue" Harmony guitars.
 The Westheimer Corporation is another music store (still in business as of this post) in a different area in Illinois. They were involved in a court case involving their use of the term "Stratotone" on their guitars and that case's proceedings actually has a decent amount of information concerning these guitars. In case you couldn't tell, I'm partially researching this as I'm writing it.

In 2000 or 2001, a company named M.B.T. International acquired a license to market reissues of instruments originally sold by the Harmony Guitar Company, including the Stratotone. Thomas Malm was the Vice-President and General Manager of the Harmony product line at MBT at the time.
In either event, MBT's sales of the guitars were rather short-lived, as it terminated its license and ceased its sales at some point in 2001, or possibly 2002. After MBT terminated its license, Mr. Subecz and Mr. Malm, who left MBT in July 2001, began working together to bring the guitars back to the market on their own. They developed samples of the guitars and worked with manufacturers on producing them, and were nearly ready to begin selling the guitars. At that point, however, MBT sent a cease and desist letter and threatened suit, claiming that it owned certain artwork associated with the guitars. Mr. Subecz had previously spoken to Mr. Malm about his experience being involved in a lawsuit over a brand, and said that "if anything like that ever happens again, he's pulling the plug and he's not going to be involved." [DE 41-3 p. 35]. Consistent with those remarks, Mr. Subecz dropped the project as soon as MBT threatened
The conclusion I'm drawing from this is that MBT International produced the reissue Harmony and Stella guitars for only a short while before deciding to no longer pursue the venture and two former employees attempted to revive the brand again but were pressured out of it.

So it appears that the Reverb posting which claimed these guitars were made in the 90's is incorrect as MBT only gained the license to sell them in the year 2000 but they only lasted for at most 2 years before going defunct.

My guitar says Made In China but with only the model number and no serial, I can only assume it was made during this period. Further information and pictures about my guitar will follow as I discover them during the repair process.


Sold the guitar for a loss cause I was looking to get rid of it. Its not the bastion of great workmanship and although it looked cool, I probably wouldn't go out seeking one
This neck ain't mahogany

1 comment:

  1. I own a stella st1112 "authentic reissue" serial number 220012..made by mbt international. The interior label says mbt international is/was located in Charlestown, SC...made in korea. I remember ordering this 12 string model sometime around the early 2000's after reading a review about the guitar in an acoustic guitar magazine..thoigh i dont recall wich magazine. It arrived out of the box with terrible, sharp, fret ends..sloppily painted of the plastic fret markers floating around the inside of the box..super cheap tuning gears that when installed on the slotted headstock had split the wood in several spots. It has an adjustable floating bridge that does not adjust...etc..etc..but nonetheless i still own the old box and play it regularly..tregularly..though not as a twelve string strung as a six string. Its good for blues fingerpicking..but certainly is no head turner.


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