Harmony "Batwing" H35/H835. $500–650.
Here's an example of an important mandolin model in the history of popular music. Blues legends Yank Rachell and (to a lesser extent) Carl Martin, as well as Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, used the Harmony H35 (later renamed the H835) as a stage mandolin during their careers. You still see them today in the hands of pro musicians.
     The looks of the Batwing have, in my humble opinion, never been beaten. The block inlays, modified F-holes, exaggerated bass point, even the lovely gold foil pickup cover, all add up to a classic package. The original DeArmond pickup is loud enough to rattle the windows. Its tone is perhaps best described as "raw" ... listen to Rachell's Chicago Style album if you want to know what I mean. But for certain styles of music there's nothing better or more authentic.
     The Batwing may appear to be an acoustic/electric, but it isn't really: if you took off the top you'd see that everything north of the pickup is a solid block of wood, which tends to dampen the acoustic sound, but improves sustain and helps control feedback from the pickup. Best to think of the Batwing as "semi-hollow." Tone and volume knobs, adjustable bridge, bolt-on neck.
     I have a number of Batwings for sale:
  1. Harmony
    F67
    F67. This H35 is in good shape, but has been played a lot, as indicated by wear along the neck. It has the ultra-cool die-cut 3-ply vinyl headplate, with the Harmony logo cut out of the top black layer and the white layer showing through. One control knob has been replaced, but everything else is original. There's a small side crack next to the endpin jack. It's stamped "F67" inside, indicating that it was built in the first half of 1967. But people don't stop making music after 50, and mandolins shouldn't either. Original chipboard case. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $650 plus shipping.
  2. Harmony
    F71
    F71. This H835 has been played a lot, as indicated by wear along the neck. The pickguard has heavy pickwear and an extra hole drilled in the end of it where someone once installed a cork support block. My luthier has glued up a crack in the back, touched up the finish, and performed a setup job and partial refret so that it plays well, with comfortable low action. It has the earlier script Harmony headstock logo in white, and a truss rod. It's stamped "F71 MADE IN USA" inside, indicating that it was made in the first half of 1971. It has its original hardware, including knobs, tailpiece, and tuners, as well as an original chipboard case. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $650 plus shipping.
  3. Harmony
    S65
    S65. Here's an H35 that was purchased new in 1965 and, from the looks of it, played every day since then. There's heavy wear along the bass edge and another spot of wear near the bridge. The neck and frets also have significant play wear—but there's no string buzzing or dead frets. The tuners and 1-piece bridge are replacements, but the rest of the hardware is original, and it's ready for another 40-plus years of playing. Non-original hardshell F-style case. Die-cut vinyl headplate with script Harmony logo in white, and a truss rod. Stamped "S65M MADE IN USA" inside, dating it to the second half of 1965. Lot number 1970. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $500 plus shipping.