Company History

Music Industry-related events involving other music companies are included below, to present a more comprehensive and informative timeline.

1906: Harry DeArmond  born in Clinton, Kentucky.

1906: Horace ‘Bud’ Rowe born in Toledo, Ohio.

1922: Harry DeArmond, aged 16.  From the 1930s Harry was employed as a design consultant by Rowe Industries and the other Rowe companies until his retirement in 1975 (Photo copyright DeArmond Estate).

1911: Harry with his parents and family on the front porch of the family home in Fulton, Kentucky.  Harry was five years old at this time (Photo copyright DeArmond Estate).

Harry’s business partner ‘Bud’ Rowe and his wife, Viola (Photo courtesy of Toledo Public Library, Ohio) on the occasion of their 65th wedding anniversary, on August 31, 1994 (photo by kind permission of Todedo Blade.)

Bud was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1906.  His background was in electronics and this business continued past the time when the music side of the business was sold off in the 1980s.  Bud retired in 1976.

Bud Rowe was an enthusiastic member of Toledo Yacht Club, from where he sailed his 42 Ft. vessel, The Electra.  He was at one time elected Commodore of the club.

1931: Bud’s first company, Fox Electrical and Manufacturing,  was established in Toledo.

1935: The name of the company was changed to Fox Sound Equipment Corporation, located at 3120 Monroe Street, Toledo.

1940: The company name was changed again, this time to Rowe Industries.

1940, August 14: The Gibson Guitar Corporation files a Patent application for an attachable, adjustable pickup for archtop guitar with Walter Fuller as the declared inventor.  This application is granted as Patent No. 2,294,861 on August 14, 1940.

(Drawing above by kind permission of the U.S. Patent Office.)

 

1941: November, Rowe Industries’ Silver leaflet D100 issued, featuring the Model FHC.  Four items only: FH, FHC, RH & RHC.  This is currently the earliest catalog seen.

The cryptic model numbers used in that catalog are as follows:

FHC: F-hole (archtop) guitar pickup.

RHC: Round-hole (flat-top) guitar pickup.

The suffix ‘C’ above denotes ‘with volume control’.

The later suffix ‘B’ indicated ‘improved’, referring to the more balanced output of the strings.

1942, September 1: The Gibson Guitar Corporation is granted Patent No. 2,294,861 for an ‘Electrical Pickup For Stringed Musical Instruments’.  Originally filed on August 14, 1940 with Walter Fuller as the declared inventor, this patent describes an attachable, adjustable pickup for archtop guitar which is similar in appearance to the Model FHC (see 1940 above, when Patent was applied for).

1945: Bud Rowe’s brother-in-law, Harold Klopping, a decorated World War II pilot, joined Rowe Industries.  He left the company in 1965 to join Chicago Musical Industries, retiring as Vice-President in 1973.

1946: February, Rowe Industries’ Green leaflet D120 issued, featuring the Model FHC.  Four items only: FH (archtop guitar pickup), FHC (as FH with volume controller), RH (roundhole guitar pickup) & RHC (as RH with volume controller).

1946: The company moved to an old schoolhouse at 1702, Wayne Street, Toledo, purchased from The Board of Education.

1948, Rowe Industries’ Yellow leaflet issued, featuring the Model 800 Trem Trol.  Seven items: Trem-Trol, FHC-B, RHC-B, 60 (tremolo), 500 (mandolin pickup), 600 (foot-operated volume controller), 700 (Violin transducer) & 900 (Bass Viol transducer).  The suffix C added to the models FH and RH denote thet the pickups’ design has been improved to a more balanced output across all strings.

1948: December, Rowe Industries’ Orange leaflet D113 issued.  Six items: FHC-B, RHC-B, 500, 600, 700 & 900.

1948: The Model 1000 Rhythm Chief pickup appears in Oahu’s catalog.

1953 approx: Rowe Industries’ unnumbered, undated blue leaflet issued, featuring the Model 900 Model Bass Viol pickup.  Seven items: FHC-B, RHC-B, 500, 600, 700, 60 & 900.

1954: October, Rowe Industries’ Red leaflet Form 112 issued, featuring the Model 1000 Rhythm Chief.  Eight items: 1000, FHC-B, RHC-B, 500, 600, 700, 60 & 900.

1958: An entry inserted in a 1958 Toledo City Directory by Rowe Industries (courtesy Dave Walters).

1963: A DeArmond Model 1000 Rhythm Chief is used in the recording of the theme music for the first James Bond movie, Dr. No.  The session musician was Vic Flick, playing a Paragon De Luxe blonde F-hole archtop, with a DeArmond  volume controller.  See photo below (A0145 photo copyright Vic Flick).

That paragon guitar!

Vic Flick (A0145 photo copyright Vic Flick).

1965 Street name changed from Wayne Street to Airport Highway.

1966: February 1, premises at 6225 Benore Road in Toledo were transferred to Rowe Industries.  See photo of Benore Road premises below.  This building has been demolished. (photo copyright Dave Walters)

During the 1960s, in addition to their music-related products, Rowe Industries produced components for radar, aerospace and missile defence systems, including the Nike-Hercules missile, the Nike-X, the Apollo moon shot and the B-52 communications system.

1965: Wayne Street name changed to Airport Highway.

1970, December: the company name was changed to H. N. Rowe & Co. Inc.

1974: July – the name was changed to Rowe DeArmond Inc., a Hartzell Corporation Company.  A new company, Hartzell Corporation was also shown at that address.

Steve Tosh joins that same year

1975: Donald Brosnac’s book – ‘The Electric Guitar, Its History and Construction’ is published.  A section on Rowe Industries in included, based on Donald’s interviews with Bud Rowe.  Those interviews will be be added to this site in the near future.

1976: Bud Rowe retired.

1978: July, the name was changed to DeArmond Inc..

1981/1982: The first auction of old/obsolete products and parts is held.

1983, Juky: The name is unchanged as DeArmond Inc., but the address is now 350 Holland Rd., Suite M, Maumee Ohio.

DeArmond Inc.’s last address was 1150 Haskins Road, Bowling Green. Ohio, where Tosh Electronics Corporation was founded in 1985.

1984/1985: The final auction of products and parts is held.  It included a lot of vintage items that had been brought from Airport Highway, Toledo.

1986, January 28: Harry DeArmond’s 80th Birthday at home:

1998: Harry DeArmond playing piano in the basement workshop of the family home in Drummond Road, Toledo:

2004 Biographical entry for Harry DeArmond added by me in Wikipedia.  That entry has been revised, almost entirely by others, since that date, mostly with factually incorrect information.

2004: Website musicpickups.com opened.

 

The Wayne School building at 1702 Wayne Street, Toledo, in 1915.  View is looking Northwest.  Rowe Industries purchased this building from the Board of Education in 1946, when they moved from 3120 Monroe Street.  In 1950, the building was extended in size by over 100% (Photo courtesy of Toledo Public Library, Ohio).

The site of Rowe Industries’ first premises, now demolished, at 3120 Monroe Street, Toledo, where DeArmond pickups were first manufactured.  View is looking North (photo copyright Musicpickups.com)

 

The Airport Highway premises, shortly before demolition.

 

The site of the demolished Rowe DeArmond works at 1720 Airport Highway, Toledo, Ohio.  This section of former Wayne Street was renamed Airport Highway in 1965.  This photo was taken  in 2003 at the same location and looking in the same direction as the B/W photo dated 1915 above (photo copyright musicpickups.com)

The Rowe DeArmond works at 1702 Wayne Street in the 1950s, after the original front half of the building (RHS of photo) had been extended to the rear (LHS of photo)  by 100%.  This view is looking Northeast.

Aerial view of the Airport Highway premises after the 100% expansion, in the 1950s.  The building is in the centre of the photo.  View is looking North.

In the late 1960s, the building was over 60 years old and was sometimes subjected to the vibration of heavy traffic on Airport Highway, outside.  This sometimes resulted in the premises’ lighting fixtures, which were suspended on long catenary wires, swaying.

 

This building, 4124 Secor Road, Toledo, was the location of DeArmond Research, Harry DeArmond’s own company, from the 1930s to the 1960s.(photo copyright musicpickups.com)

Another view of 4124 Secor Road, taken in the 1950s, from the same angle, showing that the building has hardly changed externally (Photo copyright DeArmond Estate).

A general view of Harry DeArmond’s basement workshop in the then family home on Drummond Road in Toledo.  Harry’s own amp can be seen in centre.  It was a very early version.  See also in the amplifiers section (photo copyright musicpickups.com)

This magnetiser was built by Harry DeArmond, photographed in the basement workshop of his home in Drummond Road (photo copyright musicpickups.com)

Harry DeArmond (Photo copyright DeArmond Estate).

Harry DeArmond, centre stage with an unidentified music group (Photo copyright DeArmond Estate).

Harry DeArmond, left, with Cecil Ogel and Nat Laughton (Photo copyright DeArmond Estate).

Harry playing two guitars simultaneously, in the basement workshop of his home on Drummond Road, Toledo.  Harry’s unique skill impressed Jimmy Webster so much that Jimmy himself became an outstanding exponent of it (Photo copyright DeArmond Estate).

Works layout, 2nd Floor, approx. 1966:

(Drawing copyright Dave Walters).

Staff deployment in the mid 1960s:

The whole rear section of the building was allocated to the Music Department which was mostly women, along with Arnold Pickering, the Music Department Manager, Duane Emahaiser and Dave Walters.  Arnold would move some staff as required between coil assembly, wiring harnesses, riveting pickups, magnetising and packaging (including the Machine Shop).

Dave Walters worked in all of the areas – parts storeroom, wire cutting, paint shop, test/repair and driving around town for painting and plating.

Coil winding and Finishing Areas: 4 – 6 employees.

Harness assembly, riveting and magnetizing: 5 – 10 employees including Arnold, Duane and Dave.

Machine Shop in Basement: 5 – 6 employees.

Shipping and Receiving: 2 – 3 employees.

Harry DeArmond spent much of his time at his R+D facility on Secor Road in West Toledo (see photo and address above).

Copper coil-winding wire at that time was enamel-insulated, which was not melted by soldering.  This meant that the winders – almost all  female, as dictated by the high degree of manual dexterity required – had to use 400 Grade Emery paper to remove the insulation.  This resulted in inevitable wire breakages.  The wire gauge used was 42, 44 and 45 AWG.

Suppliers to Rowe-DeArmond:

Livonia Magnetics in Livonia, Michigan, about 60 miles North of Toledo, was one of the suppliers of magnets including the rubberised magnets used later in pickup manufacturing.

Anderson Plastics of Toledo produced almost all of the control knobs.

Nazar Rubber Company produced the rubber gaskets used in the baseplates of Models 500, 750, 750-C, 800 (Transducer pickup for roundhole Spanish guitar) and 900.

Chrome and gold plating was carried out by William Whitaker, in Toledo.

Amplifiers’ Mains and Output transformers: Midwest Coil and Transformer Company

Loudspeakers: Jensen.

Some DeArmond users:

Merle Travis; Johnny Smith; Bill Haley; Gabor Czabo; BB King; Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee; Clarence Gatemouth Brown; Les Paul; David Bowie, Vic Flick, Elton Britt, Elvis, ZZ Top, Django Reinhardt.

Some of those interviewed for this site include:

Tom Ricketts, ex Rowe-Industries.  Tom joined the company in 1964 – the same year that the Ford Mustang launched.  Tom helped me enormously when I began this task, directed me towards valuable contacts and allowed me to interview him twice in Toledo and several occasions thereafter.  Without his time, great help and patience, this site could not have been created.  I am very grateful to him.

L. Rex Klopfenstein (photo copyright Musicpickups.com)

L. Rex Klopfenstein joined the company in 1948 and was involved with the design and development of many of their products over the following 30+ years.  I interviewed Rex in Toledo and he provided lots of anecdotal information on the company, products and procedures.  Rex sadly passed away in July, 2008.

Dave Walters worked with Rowe Industries during the 1960s and continues to be a valuable source of anecdotal and material information on the company, people and products to this site, for which, many thanks.

Steve Tosh (photo copyright Musicpickups.com)

Steve Tosh joined H. N. Rowe & Co. Inc. in 1973, from Sunn Musical Equipment Co. in Tualatin, Oregon, where he was a Design Engineer.   In March, 1976, Steve was promoted from General Manager to President and Chief Executive of Rowe-DeArmond Inc.. products part of the company.  I interviewed Steve in Toledo and he provided lots of anecdotal information on the company, products and procedures.

During his time with the company, he was responsible for the design and introduction of a number of new products and for updating other existing products.  Catalogs showing some products produced by his own company, Tosh Electronics, which he established after the last DeArmond Toledo company ceased trading are shown in the Catalogs page of this site

Tosh Electronics was located at 1150 Haskins Road, Bowling Green, Ohio 43402

Some of Steve Tosh’s designs were originally manufactured by DeArmond and are shown in the Amplifiers page of this site, badged DeArmond.