Way back in 1939, the Harmony Company purchased Stella Guitars, a popular maker of affordable, beginner-friendly acoustic guitars and other instruments.
Now – over 80 years after that initial purchase, and almost 50 years after both brands initially went defunct – the revived Harmony has once again acquired the trademarks and intellectual property of Stella Guitars, this time from the Westheimer Corporation.
The acquisition brings both brands under the umbrella of BandLab Technologies, the Singaporean conglomerate that acquired the rights to, and subsequently relaunched, Harmony in late 2017 (opens in new tab), along with Teisco.
The appealing price tag of Stella acoustics made them a particularly popular choice for resource-strapped blues musicians in the 1920s and '30s. H.C. Speir – a Jackson, Mississippi music store owner who helped launch the career of seminal bluesmen like Charley Patton, Skip James, and Son House – is reported to have said (opens in new tab), when asked what guitars these musicians used, "Stellas – they all played the old cheap Stella guitars, across the board.”
This reputation for value and accessibility also – many years later – gave Stellas a distinct cachet in alt- and indie-rock circles.
Kurt Cobain is said to have used (opens in new tab) a flat-top Stella Harmony 12-string guitar for the acoustic tracks on Nirvana's Nevermind, while indie star Phoebe Bridgers is known to play a (opens in new tab) a Stella-inspired Waterloo WL-14.
"We are thrilled to bring the Harmony and Stella brands back together under the same roof, and are excited to honor the legacy of Stella in the years to come, just as we have done with Harmony,” said Harmony CEO Meng Ru Kuok in a press release.
“Stella is a name that has been steeped in musical history for over a century," added Westheimer CEO Laura Gabel. "We are delighted that it has been promised another chapter, and are confident in Harmony’s ability to steward the brand into the future.”
Though Harmony has yet to announce any concrete plans for the Stella brand, activity from the newly revived firm can likely be expected in the coming months.
In the meantime, visit Harmony's website (opens in new tab) for updates.