Harmony Comet review – Premier Guitar

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News followers might be surprised to learn that the Internet is not as good at separating myth from fiction as its early advocates and creators had promised. I remembered this state of affairs while sniffing feelings about vintage Harmony guitars and the complex, convoluted world of gold leaf pickups. Needless to say, there are a lot of strong opinions, from advocates who defend old Harmonys as underrated, to snobs who still see them as universally inferior, to the growing cult of gold leaf fanatics who sing their praises to heaven without even agreeing on what a gold leaf pickup is.


Why am I mentioning this in the context of reviewing a brand new Harmony instrument? Because the modern Harmony – now a division of BandLab Technologies – once again challenges myths and easy categorization in a way that might divide opinion, just like the old Harmony.

The American-made comet examined here is perfectly emblematic of the difficulty of reviving a brand and navigating these old myths. This is a beautifully built guitar, on par in terms of quality with many midrange and high end electrics. It’s a distinctive visual presence in a world of lookalikes. And it sounds great too, with inspiring, revolutionary and humbucking tones that inspire new musical directions as you play. For some, the name Harmony will likely conjure up pawn shops that could make the nearly $ 1,500 price tag hard to swallow. For more open-minded gamers, The Comet might be a tantalizing path away from the same old electric rut. I guess for those who spend real time with the comet, the latter scenario is much more likely.

Feathered flight

The semi-hollow design of the comet does not slavishly adhere to any chapter in Harmony’s history. In fact, to my knowledge, there has never been a Harmony like the Comet. Although some have compared it to Harmony’s H72s, 75s and 77s of the 1960s, the lugs are a bit sharper and much smaller, reminiscent of Gibson’s ES-339 and some of the underrated semi-hollows of Vox from the early 2010s. There are many advantages to a semi-hollow guitar of this size. For starters, it’s very light, at around six pounds, which dramatically minimizes fatigue from gaming, standing or sitting. The slim profile also makes it effortless to hold the guitar.

If there’s one downside to lightness, it’s that there isn’t a lot of mass to counteract gravity working on the headstock. Throw the extra ounces of the locking tuners into this equation and you’ve got a guitar that’s a bit prone to neck plunge, depending on which strap you use. (My usual Ace-style straps exacerbated the problem, but a wider leather strap did a lot to offset the tendency to slip.)

Soaring on foil wings

The relatively compact dimensions and light weight of the Comet accentuate the already impressive playability of the guitar. Our review guitar came in with almost too low action, but once I made a few quick adjustments to the bridge and intonation, the Comet felt quick and responsive under my fingers. The 12 “radius, mid-sized frets and 25” scale all combine to give an almost Gibson-like feel, although the neck profile has more than a trace of Fender shape and finesse. For many players, this will be the perfect mix of ingredients. And aside from the tight cutaway making it difficult to access the higher frets, it tends to invite very exploratory play.

Pickups certainly exhibit many of the most coveted attributes of classic gold leaf

The Comet is a quality instrument at all levels. The proof of attention to detail is everywhere. Especially pretty are the intricate compound curves that occur at the point where the arched back and the glued neck joint come together. The nitrocellulose finish in honey and amber hues is also lovely, revealing much of the subtle, wavy grain of the mahogany body. Some nods to Harmony’s story feel less at home here, especially the inverted tone and volume knobs on the Peanut Butter Cup. They look authentically vintage (aside from the bleached white look), but feel a bit plastic and inexpensive compared to the great materials used elsewhere. They are, however, brilliantly placed for volume ups and quick tone adjustments. The heavy-duty shooting switch is also intelligently located, away from aggressive scratching motions, but within easy reach for the switches you intend to make.

The more individual aspects of the Comet’s performance are manifested in the excellent pickups. Harmony calls these gold leaf humbuckers a broad and largely misunderstood category of pickups that can be a lot. Society is shy about what is hiding under the covers. But in purely sonic terms, the pickups certainly exhibit many of the most coveted attributes of classic gold leaf.

The most striking sounds come from the bridge pickup. Here you’ll find some biting sounds that would make a Telecaster blush. But while the higher-pitched sounds are sharp and loud, there’s still a bit of smoothness and compression at the sharpest edge of the transients and they retain a bell-like resonance that keeps those tonic sounds exciting and rich without scorching the eardrums. . They also do a terrific job with exciting spring reverb and fuzz effects. The super present and punchy high end and high mids of these pickups mean they can seem to dominate the low end at times. Personally, I loved the balance between the two ends of the spectrum and liked the fact that I could squeeze out a distinct, not too muddy bass counterpoint that held up without sounding like some PAF style humbuckers. But I guess at the end of the day, even fans of Gibson and Fender style recipes could really appreciate the unique balance between the current high end and the more concise, subdued background you get from these pickups. They are a very intriguing alternative to those very familiar sounds, especially when you add the phase shift mode available via the push / pull volume knob.

The verdict

I have played comet alongside several electrical devices and have always been stunned by its distinct and uniqueness. Studio dogs might eventually find him indispensable for his ability to produce super sizzling, clear high tones that always sing. They’ll probably also like the mellow, balanced, and lightly compressed semi-hollow neck pickup sounds that never seem to dominate with powerful resonances.

Harmony may have an image-building job to do to overcome the prejudices of the snoots and trolls who associate the brand with the bargains of pawn shops. And the price of $ 1,499 might just be a touch on the high end of the high-mid price spectrum for some. But given that we’ve seen a lot of good instruments built in Asia and Mexico creep into this price range and up, it’s certainly not an exorbitant price tag for a well-designed, US-built instrument with so many. truly distinctive sounds.

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