Harmony "Batwing" H35/H835. $450–750.
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. I've had to give them names to keep them straight:
  1. Harmony S65 - Carissa
    S65
    Carissa. S65. $450. 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.
         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. Gig bag included, or upgrade to a hardshell case. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $450 plus shipping.
     
  2. Harmony H35 S72 - Fatima
    S72
    Fatima. S72. $750. This H35 has a lot number of 6668 and is labeled S-72-JW MADE IN U.S.A., dating it to the second half of 1972. It is in remarkably good shape for an instrument approaching 49 years of age. It has minor player wear and some discoloration of the rosewood fretboard, but only a few slight nicks and scratches. There is, however, some finish missing on both sides of the neck near the headstock, which is a common result of frequent playing. It has the die-cut 3-ply vinyl headplate, with the cut-out Harmony logo, as well as an original 3-ply pickguard. All of the other hardware is original with the exception of the bridge, which looks like a 1-piece but on closer inspection appears to be a 2-piece with the posts and thumbwheels removed and the saddle and base glued together. It is one of the more desirable H35s with an adjustable truss rod.
         Fatima has had a pair of strap buttons added—one at the tailpiece and one on the headstock—making it a little easier to use as a stage mandolin. There’s also an old set list taped to the back, which I haven't removed because I think it adds some charm—but I would certainly remove it and clean off the tape residue at a buyer's request. Original chipboard case included; said case is functional but missing some of its stitching and could use a repair. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $750 plus shipping.

  3. Harmony H35 S72 - Gina
    F67
    Gina. F67. $725. This H35 has a lot number of 0097 and is labeled F-67-M MADE IN U.S.A., meaning it was built in the first half of 1967. It has survived pretty well, although it does have some chips and scratches along the edges, a surface crack on the back, a small crack in the pickup housing, and a small gap in the back binding at the tailpiece.
         It has the die-cut 3-ply vinyl headplate with the cut-out Harmony logo. I obtained it with no pickguard, but was able to supply an original pickguard from another mandolin, which also sports the Harmony logo cutout (the coolest version of this pickguard if you ask me, and not easy to find). The bridge appears to be a 2-piece with the posts and thumbwheels removed and the saddle and base glued together. All other hardware is original; the chrome tailpiece cover has a significant amount of oxidation covering almost half its surface.
         An endpin has been added. A leather strap attaches there and has also been riveted together around the narrow part of the headstock, just above the nut and underneath the strings, so its installation is more or less permanent. Gig bag included, or upgrade to a hardshell case. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $725 plus shipping.
  4. Harmony H35 - Harriet
    S65
    Harriet. S65. $850. This H35 has a lot number of 5725 and is labeled S-65 MADE IN U.S.A., meaning it was built in the second half of 1965. It has a fresh setup and is in great shape apart from a slight finish crack at the top of the bass F-hole.
         This is really the ultimate collector version of the Batwing, pushing all of the right buttons. It's fully original and has a truss rod, the die-cut 3-ply vinyl headplate with the cut-out Harmony logo, and the matching logo on the pickguard.
         Original chipboard case in good condition. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $850 plus shipping.