The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #101

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    >> The stronger and most accurate that [neck] joint is, the better the guitar is going to sound. That's the secret, so that when you play the note on the guitar, it's solid, it rings out better, and the reason is because of that joint. << - Jimmy D'Aquisto
    In another, similar quote D'Aquisto stated that the step of fitting the neck to the body would be one of the most critical and important steps of the whole guitar making procedure.

    Artur Lang knew that long before Jimmy. The question remains: why has the better part of archtop guitar makers almost been obsessed with the right coupling of the guitar neck to the body? Simple craft honor? No way. The old guitar makers knew that the neck is sort of a "tuning fork", acting as an additive to the tone, the more on steel string guitars where the neck joins the body around the 14th fret (or higher). They had always just been experimenting and soon got to know that a sloppily performed neck-body coupling would be unfavorable in relation to the guitar's tone.

    Lang even knew a bit more. As a former war metal aircraft builder, he was aware of the physical laws of statics, dynamics, lightweight and stiff construction, vibrations, useful and harmful (motor) resonances, and resonance interferences. "He consistently implemented the knowledge he had gained in the construction of his guitars" (HR).

    One hallmark of his archtop guitar necks is the low conicity or angle of taper - seen from the fretboard - over the entire length of the neck/fretboard, measured from the zero fret or the nut, to the last (highest) fret. This is true for all necks, no matter if these sport a 40mm, 43mm or 45mm width (at zero fret). According to HR, most values are between 5 and 8mm. In comparison, Gibson L-5 necks, in facto, most US-made guitars, show often a conicity of c. 14mm. My 1996 L-5 WM must be a better one with only 13.5mm difference.

    So why did Lang stick to what he found, at first sight a quite unimportant feature for most players?
    The simple physical answer is: interferences, especially destructive interferences.
    Just try the following: take two differently tapered necks (or already tapered neck blanks or even tapered wooden strips meant for making guitar necks). Let's simply call one the almost parallel Lang-style, the other one the wide-taper-style.
    Fix the necks/strips in a way, so that they can relatively freely vibrate, and start tapping or knocking from the nut down to the last fret. What you're going to hear or measure could look like this:

    Artur Lang Archtop-assumed-neck-main-resonances-different-fret-locations-1-4-low-tapered-lang-style-archto-jpg

    Like many small workshop luthiers are still doing, Lang made guitars in batches (mostly six guitars for Lang). The fully assembled necks (just the neck joint area still being rough) were premade in larger stocks.
    Now this is what Lang did: he coupled/selected the neck to each body according to the same (or close enough) main air resonance (body) and main neck resonance. The main air resonance can couple with the main top resonance, so Lang guitars have sort of a brilliant, built-in 'triple' resonance, regularly by intention - not just incidentally to be found on some examples from other makers/manufacturers.
    In the scheme suggested above that would mean Lang would have combined a particular guitar body with the main air resonance c2 with a particular neck that shows the same, or about the same, main neck resonance. Sometimes, builders talk of a specific "neck mode", but more often stay vaguely about what they exactly mean by this.

    If you couple a Lang neck that generates one single defined, strong main resonance to a suitable body, destructive interferences should be expected to be way lower. Due to its shape, a wide-taper neck shows many different, though generally weaker resonances - the total energy input by the nut or zero fret splits up in multiple resonance ranges. Only one or two of the latter (around c2 in the example above) will couple with the guitar body's main air resonance - and that coupling will be weaker in comparison to a Lang-style neck.

    The energy of vibrating strings is transferred to the guitar body through 1. the bridge, and 2. the nut or zero fret and the neck joint. To consider both is important in acoustic guitar making.
    D'Aquisto, and others, knew that they had to fit the neck to the body in a firm way, to get the "solid, ringing out" note/tone. On a Lang neck with its relatively defined resonance range, the coupling with the body will generally be stronger and more equal, no matter if you're fretting the first or the 12th fret. There are less interferences, which results in a more clear, brillant, or less hoarse, overall tone and less dead spots with consequentially changing volume issues. In short: a more balanced tone throughout the tonal registers.
    Everyone can hear and feel this. Sometimes, dead spots can be heard in an unfavorable way, when the guitar is amplified (clean). Not all electric hollow-body guitar issues are a result of unbalanced string sets, string clearance, magnetic pickup properties, etc..

    As a technician and engineer, HR summarized all this much more laconically, shorter and more clear (though, it seems some interested folks are still having a hard time):
    - "A low neck taper creates a narrow frequency band with high vibration amplitude."
    - "A neck frequency matched to the body frequency prevents interference (dead spots)."

    The demonstration in practice for guitar players is easy for HR. All Langs have got that quintessential clear and well-balanced tone. If a Lang guitar - after a fine set-up - doesn't seem to have it, or has a slightly muffled or throaty tone (sometimes caused by overspraying etc., in the past), you have to identify the problem and overcome it. It can be done.

    In the past, some classically oriented luthiers, who knew about the quality of Lang guitars, modified one or the other Lang by replacing the archtop-sized neck with an own, usually wider one, often in combination with a plain fretboard. Edgar Monch, a highly influential guitar maker, was just one of them. These guitars don't sound any more like a typical Lang.
    HR had removed such a neck on a otherwise great large-body Lang, replacing it - the altered, sadly wide neck joint invited to do so - with a Gibson-dimensioned neck. The guitar is set-up exactly the same way as his other Langs ... but, boy, guitar players often can't believe it due to these tone differences!
    Well, that wide neck taper may be one thing, but, I guess, there is another thing that the neck replacing person just forgot to do: coupling that neck to the body in a way like Lang used to.
    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 12-28-2022 at 06:03 PM.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    You mean he didn't carve the necks on his guitars ???!!! Now THAT comes as a surprise , wow .... never even considered that possibility. But I'm with you re the neck shapes : while I generally don't have problems with slim necks I definitely prefer it when they get wider going up towards the joint.
    I didn't say that. Many of the Langs that I have handled appeared to have neck laminations consistent with those supplied to various other West German guitar makers. I believe that these blanks were purchased in an oversized format, allowing the individual makers to modify them as they saw fit in terms of headstock shape, width, depth and taper. My earliest Lang has a neck blank that certainly looks like it was made by Lang himself.

    I've played a dozen or so Langs quite a bit, and own three.
    I'll post some neck dimensions of interest for comparative purposes, in metric and imperial measurements, for the Langs as well as for some other archtop guitars.

    Lots more to come on this fascinating topic...

  4. #103

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    Quietly, but with an almost uncanny acuteness of mind, HR is working on the further development of his report on Artur Lang's life work. The latest update was released on March 30, 2023.
    I find the new list of abbreviations used in the report impressive, not only for German-speaking Lang enthusiasts, which alone gives a good indication on the verve with which Artur Lang developed, built and refined his guitar models:

    grafik.png (660×1011) (

    For all fans of Roger guitars there is also an update (No. 4 or 5?) from HR, again with a wealth of news that is almost lost in the amount of material collected:

    Roger Schlaggitarren – Herbert Rittinger

  5. #104

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    It's my first post here so I want to say hi to everyone.

    I've just bought this beauty! Need some love and care to make it fully playable but the price was good?

    Can anybody help me identify this one? Model, year, anything? Also I will definitely get rid of that bigsby. Is there a chance to get original tailpiece and tunning peg? Floating bridge might be non original too?

    Anyway I will appreciate any help!

    Attached Images Attached Images Artur Lang Archtop-img_20240220_170822-jpg Artur Lang Archtop-img_20240220_170806-jpg Artur Lang Archtop-img_20240220_170909-jpg Artur Lang Archtop-img_20240220_170853-jpg 

  6. #105

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    Hi Milosz,

    Your name suggests you're in Hungary - or just from there?

    Quote Originally Posted by Milosz
    Is there a chance to get original tailpiece and tunning peg? Floating bridge might be non original too?
    One place to try would be German Vintage Guitar (IIRC they're in Cologne but they have a website of course ). They usually have a good collection of original parts. They should also be able to help with the identification but as you probably saw we have at least 1 resident expert on those matters here too

  7. #106

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milosz

    It's my first post here so I want to say hi to everyone.

    I've just bought this beauty! Need some love and care to make it fully playable but the price was good?

    Can anybody help me identify this one? Model, year, anything? Also I will definitely get rid of that bigsby. Is there a chance to get original tailpiece and tunning peg? Floating bridge might be non original too?

    Anyway I will appreciate any help!


    Welcome, Milosz, and congrats for this Lang guitar!
    There's only one man on this planet whom I'd recognize to be a Lang expert. HR got his first Lang from the master in 1964, and spent considerable time from 2000 until this day to play, compare, study, repair and overhaul the guitars made by Lang. You can take his studies, repairing and overhauling literally. Fortunately for all Lang guitar owners, HR published an incredible and most precise work on Lang; some obscurities or even minor errors might still be included, but get increasingly eradicated - meanwhile, there is no longer much room for such errors.
    HR still gets many inquiries about Lang instruments. I know he answers most of them patiently and in a friendly way, but he is wondering himself, if these folks have delved into his work which provides (almost) all of the answers. The Lang website is in German, though this is fully negligible when using a translator like Google or Deepl. There is also a lot of detailed photos and exact data tables, comprising even most of the more unusual work of that custom maker.

    So, let's classify your Lang on the fly by means of that website:

    1. Measure the body width (done across the back - it doesn't include the few "extra" millimeters caused by that pronounced recurve); it should sport around 440 to 444 millimeters. That's quite big, isn't it? It's a big body model! In addition it features a Venetian cutaway and long f-soundholes. Bingo, that must be a so-called Super De Luxe, in short a SDL model (KAPITEL 02 MODELLE / SPEZIFIKATIONEN – Artur Lang Gitarren ( , scroll down to the SDL model, look at the fotos, study the corresponding data table.

    2. The build year; was quite hard to narrow down until HR's studies.
    There are many minor hints, though these are hard to spot for the uninitiated. Some instruments could have had repairs, replaced hardware, and so on.
    The most easy way is to be guided by the beautifully engraved metall plates on the headstocks. Contrary to the tailpieces they get hardly ever replaced. The hand-engraved motifs, made by three different engravers over the years, more often than not show individual signs, but can be divided into characteristic different groups. What do you see on your headstock? The famous round Lang sun and flowers, that's all I can see. Lang loved the sun, sun beams, smaller and bigger flowers (earth loves in flowers, doesn't it?), clouds, ancient ornamental lines - he was also an esthete because he had experienced very bad times in Siberian war captivity.
    So, sun and flowers, in German that's "Motiv Sonne - floral": scroll down to "Motive Metallplatte graviert" in the KAPITEL 04 KOMPONENTEN UND IHRE SPEZIFIKATIONEN – Artur Lang Gitarren ( . Have a look at the fotos (naturally, there are much more fotos than the few examples shown on the website). Which compares the best to yours? What do you think - remember these engravings do all differ in some points because they were made freehand by artists. Anyway, have a look at the table below the fotos: the Motiv Sonne - Floral was used on the models HLM1 / SUP / SDL between "Anfang 60 bis Mitte 60". So your guitar was made between 1960 and 1965. It's not possible to date your Lang more precise. It wouldn't matter any way; it's the best period for big-body Langs.

    Now to the tuners: go again to chapter 04 above and scroll to "Mechaniken" (tuners), watch the fotos and find type 10 ("Einzelmechanik, Premium, gekapselt"). These are Van Gent tuners made in the Netherlands; they were used on SDL models to customer specification only. You might be able to find one single vintage tuner of that type somewhere on the web.

    The bridge is still available: it's a Höfner or Hofner-style No. 105 E(bony) - IIRC, you have to check that number. Made by the German Teller Company. It could be now that Teller is only making them for Höfner replacement parts. Until last years or so, they offered two 105 E models which looked differently on pics. The Höfner one was distinctly more expensive, otherwise they were exactly the same. My dear Höfner friends - this won't end well for you ...

    I'd immediately replace that Bigsby by ... yes, by what? Today it would be easier to win a lottery than find an original Lang V-Tailpiece with engraving by ABM. HR has maschined a couple of finest pieces for himself out of pure nickel-silver; an incredibly crazy work of 4 or more full days, would certainly correspond to €1000,- per piece - I wouldn't even ask him to get one.
    Just take an old "Escutcheon" or heavy lyre style one, they can be found. Check for the tailpieces on the chapter above.

    What else? Take care for this old noble lady by the best German archtop guitar maker - it will need some meticulous TLC, and it's the Crème de la Crème! Personally, I would never swap a great original SDL against any other brand, new or vintage, including the big-named D'Angelico and D'Aquisto models.

    PS: it seems that the fretboard / neck on your guitar has a tapering (widening from the zero fret to the bridge end of fretboard) found only on some very late electric Langs, though it could well be just the distortion by the foto lens or the perspective. What are the data of the zero fret width and at the end of the fretboard?

  8. #107

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    today HR informed me that you already received some information about the guitar from him!
    I guess there isn't much more to say about this then - just one last hint: this SDL was more likely made at the beginning of the 1960s.

  9. #108

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    Thank you for your comprehensive answer, Ol' Fret! That's a lot of information!
    Speaking of fretboard width , my Lang has 43mm at the zero fret and around 57mm at the last fret. It's strange isn't it? ?

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milosz
    Thank you for your comprehensive answer, Ol' Fret! That's a lot of information!
    Speaking of fretboard width , my Lang has 43mm at the zero fret and around 57mm at the last fret. It's strange isn't it? ?

    That difference of 14mm is quite unusual for Lang, definitely the original customer's specification - and the reason why I pointed to this area above!

    >> Ein Markenzeichen der Lang-Hälse ist die geringe Konizität über die gesamte Länge des Griffbretts. Der Breitenunterschied vom Sattel bis zum Griffbrettende schwankt zwischen 2 und 12mm, wobei die frühen Modelle die geringsten Maßunterschiede aufweisen. Die größte Konizität mit 11-12mm wurde an ÖKO-und SDL-Modellen nach 1970 gemessen. Die meisten Werte liegen zwischen 5 und 8mm.Zum Vergleich: Eine Gibson-L5 weist eine Konizität von ca.14mm über die gesamte Griffbrettlänge auf. <<

    >> Geringe Halskonizität erzeugt enges Frequenzband mit hoher Schwingungsamplitude <<
    From: KAPITEL 11 SONSTIGES – Artur Lang Gitarren (

    I briefly tried to extend HR's compact explanation in my post #101 above.
    Some may think it's gibble gabble - well, they're free to "think" whatever they like- , but it's simple acoustic physics, well-known vibration theory and empirical knowledge of finer acoustic musical instrument making. There are no real "secrets" in instrument making, just knowledge, cognition and perception.
    The truth is that some owners and players of early 1950's Lang models - much less on later guitars (Lang had always been a custom maker) - often complain about these guitar necks being painfully narrow for playing. That could be true, if you're accustomed to, for example, Gibson neck measures. The tone though of these early Langs is clear like a silver bell throughout the register, more than on any other rival guitars.

    You could test it yourself: play your Lang guitar with your actual 14mm concity, and then put in a 8 or 10mm neck. You'll be amazed!
    For all later service reason we prefer to convert - very carefully made! - glued necks into screwed-on ones on Langs, where a neck reset or other repair work around the neck foot or block had to be done anyway. If done right it's hard to spot the difference at all ... you see no screw, nothing.
    Btw., the same is valid for other acoustic (carved) archtop guitars. The evidence is clear at hand and in your ears.

    The best acoustic guitar makers would prefer a smaller angle of neck taper (conicity) than that, i. e., a delta difference of no more than ca.10mm (between 8 and 11mm, max. 12mm, depending also on the main resonances of the particular guitar body) between the nut or zero fret and the end of the fretboard.
    So, if your zero fret measures 43mm, the neck width at the highest fret should not be more than ca. 53mm. If the zero fret measures 45mm (my personal Lang favorites), the highest fret could be ca. 55mm, and so on.

    All that naturally get's less important on "acoustic" archtop guitars, where the pickup(s) produce(s) the lion's share of tone,i. e., on the majority of archtop guitar brands, especially those with set pickups; the more on mere electric guitars.