Magnatone Guitars!

New for Fall 2013, a complete guide to Magnatone guitars and the stories behind them!

1938-1960 Steel Guitars

1956-1963 Bigsby/Barth Era

1964-1966 Starstream Era


The People behind the Amplifiers

The biggest the story behind the name Magnatone is of the people that made them possible. In the cases of many of those people, their stories go well past the the history of Magnatone, so I've included some additional biographical information below.


Dates are listed in (parentheses) and may not be 100% accurate. If you have information about someone on this list, or someone who should be on this list, please contact me.



Al J. Allen Service Dept. Torrance; National service manager, Harmony (1966).
Tom Ames receiving, Torrance.
Jim Ashe metal shop, Torrance.
Paul Barth Guitar designer and engineer (1958-60,1964-68).
John R. Bartholomew Engineer (1956-1961) Chief Engineer (1961-1963).
W.J. Belmonte Harmony
Don Beneroski Harmony
Joe Benaron President, Thomas Organ Co.
Don Bonham engineer (1957-1961?).
Arnold Bernhard Chairman of the Board of Directors, Estey 1958-1961
Paul Bossert engineer (1967)
Don Bergstrom mechanical engineer (Torrance and Harmony), production supervisor (harmony).
Jimmy Bryant guitar consultant, 1960s.
Arnold R. Buckles VP of Production, part owner, director (1957-1959).
Lee Burch woodshop, assembly line (1958-1959).
Frances Casey sales and service coordinator, Westbury.
F. Roy Chilton President (1957-1960).
Rual Cogswell General Operations Manager (1961-1965).
W.E. Combs Plant manager of Estey Musical Inst. Corp. (1967).
Monte Craviss management, Torrance
Tish Cunningham administrative, Harmony
Charles J. Daniels vice-president of Production (1959), Chief mechanical engineer (1959).
Carl Dickerson employee, Dickerson Inst.
Delbert J. Dickerson owner, inventor, Dickerson Inst.
Arthur E. Duhamell President, Owner (1947-1957).
Estel V. Duhamell Director of Sales (1950-1955).
James Evans engineer (1962-1965), western regional service manager (1966)
William Foster sales coordinator, Harmony.
Don Garvin QA testing, engineer (1966-1968).
Ralph Greer engineer (1961-1963).
Stanley Green President (1961-1968).
Veronica "Ronnie" Gross Sales supervisor (1966); Eastern Sales Manager of Estey (Mar.1967).
Alfred "Al" Hamel consultant (1965) General Operations Manager (1965-)
Fred Heyden director of engineering (1962-1964)
Roy Hunt sales consultant (1963-1966).
Nathan Hellman Vice-President, engineer, part owner (-1957).
Tony Jerome National Sales Manager (1963-1965).
Irving Kappy President of both ORCOA and Estey Tape Recorder Divisions (1963).
Rob Klembus draftsman and designer, New Kensington.
Saul "Sonny" Knazick Vice President, ORCOA and Estey 1961-1968.
Fred G. Krueger Engineering consultant, Estey Electronics (1959-1961).
Bill Layton engineer, Harmony.
Jay Levine director, shareholder, ORCOA and Estey (1960-1968); Board chairman, Electro-Learner (1969).
Gary Loeffler quality control, Torrance.
Larry Ludwick design engineer (1964-1966).
A.B. McMahan employee, Dickerson Inst.
J.M. McClintock President, 1965-1968.
Louis G. MacKenzie Chief Engineer, Magna Electronics (1951). Also associated with Musicast, Inc (Muzak) in the mid 1950's and later formed MacKenzie Electronics, Inc.
Henri Milano Accordonist, National Sales Manager of Estey (Mar.1967).
Anthony J. Price chief engineer, engineering executive, national sales manager (1962-1966)
AL Rosenberg Eastern regional service manager (1966).
Norman Schorr Harmony
Arthur R. Schmoyer inventor, 20.7% shareholder, Electro-Learner. (1969).
William Souweine VP for Marketing and Sales for Estey (1963).
Dick Stuber purchasing agent,(-1963-)
James Strange Harmony
Don Swendsrud Harmony
Jim Stineman maintenance, Torrance.
Bob Thweatt cabinet shop, Torrance.
Maurice Varin tool and die shop (1959-1965 minimum).
Joseph F. Walsh VP of sales (1958-1959).
Bob Warren engineer (Torrance) chief mechanical engineer (Harmony -1968)

Arnold Bernhard


Arnold Bernhard became famous in the financial world for his method of normalizing the values of different size companies for the purpose of picking investments. This work was done through his two companies, The Value Line Fund, Inc. and later, the Arnold Bernhard & Co. Inc. Bernhard rescued Estey from bankruptcy in 1950's and as Chairman of the Board for Estey, acquired Magna Electronics in 1959.

John R. Bartholomew


Jack Bartholomew was hired by Magna as an engineer in 1956. He was promoted to Chief Engineer in 1961 and held that position until early 1963. Following his service in World War II as an Air Force pilot, Bartholomew was a design engineer for north American Aviation Corp. He was also responsible for several custom sound installations in southern California including organs and sound equipment at Disneyland, and his installation of a concert model organ and 22 tone cabinets in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Jimmy Bryant


Jimmy Bryant was a professional guitarist in the 1950s and 1960s. Initially, his relationship to Magnatone was as an endorsing artist, but he was eventually hired as a consultant. He performed at Magnatone shows and events, and held clinics where he demonstrated both guitars and amplifiers for impressed crowds. In the summer of 1967, Bryant became a product consultant for Vox. Whether or not his relationship with Magnatone ended coincident with this move, or prior to it is unknown.

Arnold R. Buckles


Arnold "Buck" Buckles was a share holder and vice-president of operations for Magna Electronics from 1957 to about 1960. Joe Benaron brought him to Los Angeles to manage all production facilities for Pacific-Mercury Television Corp in early 1956. The following year, Buckles, along with Roy Chilton and a few other investors at Pac-Merc bought the already established Magna Electronics.
At Magna, Buckles was VP for operations and ran all aspects of the Inglewood facility. In 1959, perhaps coincident with the sale of Magna to Estey, Buckles sold his stake and opened a business, ARBCO, in the San Fernando valley manufacturing printed circuit boards.

Rual Cogswell, Jr.


Hired as the General Operations Manager of Estey Electronics, Inc. in 1961. Previously employed by Magnavox in Torrance. He held this position until 1965 when we was replaced by Al Hamil. Cogswell died in 2009.

Nathan Hellman


Nathan Hellman worked in radio and electronics in the thirties. Fada Radio and Electric from 1940 to 1943, then Ainsley Radio in the production of Naval radar sets. After the war Hellman worked for George and Victor Trad's Tradio, Inc. Asbury Park, New Jersey. and was appointed Chief Engineer in charge of R&D. Hellman designed a sold coin operated radio for restaurants called the Tradiola as well as Tradiovision television sets, and something called the Tradio-ette. Hellman started his career in radio in 1929,

He relocated to southern california sometime between 1948 and 1955 or so. It is unclear when he became a part owner of Magna Electronics (he could have been partners with Duhamell from the beginning), but by the time of the sale of Magna in Jan 1957, Hellman was part owner and Vice President.

Early in his career, prior to 1947, he designed an electric piano using the FM priniciple.

After the sale to Chilton and group of investors, Hellman ran a wholesale electronics and radio supply store in Los Angeles called Dow Radio. He was president, and Art Duhamell was vice president. Hellman died in 1965 at the age of 48. He was married and had at least one child.

Roy Hunt


Byron Roy Hunt moved to Riverside California from Indianapolis in the 1930s. He was the manager at a retail music store for many years. Either in the late 1950s or early 1960s he was hired by Magna/Estey as a sales consultant. His employment/consultancy continued even after Estey moved to Harmony, although Hunt never moved from Southern California. Hunt was an organ and accordion guy, and did what he could to steer Estey in that direction in the 1960s. (Hunt not to be confused with theatre proprietor Roy C. Hunt, also from Riverside).

J.M. McClintock


In 1964, Estey was rescued from bankruptcy by Commerical Credit Corp. (CCC), Estey's chief creditor via Commerical's subsidiary, the Textile Banking Co. Through restructuring the company, CCC installed board directors and influenced the decision to remove Stan Green as president. In 1965, Jack McClintock, a professional executive, was elected president. Unlike Green, McClintock was much more involved in day to day operations at Estey, and was respected by engineers for this professionalism and involvement. The most significant change to occur during the McClintock years was the move from Torrance to Harmony. By October 1968, McClintock had moved on and was Vice President of the nearby Will-Burt Co.'s fabrication division. Later, in the seventies I believe he started a boat manufacturing business, J.M.McClintock & Co., first starting with aluminum and fibreglass canoes and expanding into small sailboats.

Anthony J. Price


Tony Price started at Estey in 1962 as an electronics engineer. Downsizing eliminated several senior engineering positions ahead of him, and in 1963 Tony was named engineering manager of Estey. As lead engineer of the M-series Custom Series, he oversaw the development and design of the amplifier line. He also helped develop the Starstream series guitars with Paul Barth in 1964, of which the vibrato mechanism was patented in his name. Price moved with the company to Harmony, but with the product line well established, Estey's Director of operations, Jack McClintock, promoted him to National Sales Manager. This involved lots of travel for regular visits to distributors. In 1966, Price left Estey to work for ESB, Inc.




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