Harmony was founded in 1892 by Wilhelm Schultz. In 1916, it was bought by Sears, Roebuck and Co., which wanted to corner the ukulele market. In 1928 Harmony introduced the first of many Roy Smeck models, and went on to become the largest producer in the U.S. They sold 250,000 pieces in 1923 and 500,000 in 1930, including models of guitars, banjos, and mandolins.
In the late 1930s the firm was making violins again after a 19 year hiatus, bought brand names from the bankrupt Oscar Schmidt Co.—La Scala, Stella, and Sovereign—and was marketing not only Harmony products, but also using the Sears name, Silvertone, plus a variety of trade names, such as Vogue, Valencia, Johnny Marvin, Monterey, Stella, and others.
The company hit a peak in 1964-1965, selling 350,000 instruments, but low-end foreign competition led to the company's demise 10 years later. Between 1945 and 1975, the Chicago firm had mass produced about ten million guitars. The company reduced their output over the years, later focusing on student models sold through JCPenney.
The Harmony Guitar Company ceased in 1975, and the Harmony name was sold.
The name is now used by a company based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
Vintage Harmony guitars are now a popular item for collectors and often fetch high prices on eBay.