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  1. #1

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    I recently acquired this rare German made archtop by a relatively unknown luthier named Artur Lang. Made in the 50's.
    It is 17.25", solid spruce and maple back the neck may be maple also, 25" scale. The strings are 12 D'Addario nickle flats. All I can say is Wow! It needs a proper set up and some fret work.
    It plays loud and effortless. I have never played a guitar that is more balanced and even throughout the fretboard.
    Would appreciate any information on the luthier Artur Lang and the provenance of his guitars.
    Attached Images Attached Images Artur Lang Archtop-lang3-jpg Artur Lang Archtop-lang2-jpg Artur Lang Archtop-lang1-jpg 

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2
    Hammertone, did I stumble on something more than just a vintage archtop? D'Angelico of Germany! Any idea of what would a Lang guitar may be valued?

  4. #3

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    Very cool

    And Garmisch Partenkirchen is one of the most beautiful places in Germany .. and the world

    Just remember if you go there that Zugspitze doesn't mean spitting on trains.

  5. #4

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    Nice find! I'm sure others with more in depth knowledge will comment, but I think you'll find that though quite desirable in Europe, they don't realise anything like the prices John Ds guitars realise.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by denk8
    Hammertone, did I stumble on something more than just a vintage archtop? D'Angelico of Germany! Any idea of what would a Lang guitar may be valued?
    Yes. It's a Lang. You have stumbled onto the Rolls-Royce, the Faberge egg, the Ruhlmann side table.
    Value? Since only a small number of people even know what a Lang archtop guitar is, they do not fetch high numbers, and typically sell in the US$4,000-$6,000 range. Or less. I've seen several go for between $2,000-$2,500.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 09-09-2015 at 10:38 PM.

  7. #6

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    Congrats! Those who know put serious money on the table if one of these show up for sale. Put on a De Armond Rhythm Chief, and off you go...

  8. #7

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    Congratulations denk8,

    My father owns one:
    Link is dead, pics in the album in my profile.
    Last edited by balthazar; 11-14-2020 at 05:17 PM.

  9. #8

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    >> Would appreciate any information on the luthier Artur Lang and the provenance of his guitars. <<


    So... are you the one who got this Lang for $875.00? From a commercial seller who might be a nice guy, but was not acting like a very reputable guitar trader in context with this guitar offer (please, don't ask how I came to know!)?

    Anyway, congrats for this guitar! It's a "STANDARD" model, Lang's entry level, made around the mid 50s, definitely before 1957.

    Artur Lang is something like an "unknown legend" of German archtop guitar makers. While some guitarists in the know would do anything to get one of his guitars, it could still happen that you run into the shop of a pro guitar maker offering a guitar made by Lang who has never heard about this master before, even near Lang's former hometown Garmisch, one hour south of Munich.

    Lang, born in Schönbach/Egerland in 1909, then one of the most - if not the most - famous center of stringed instrument making in Europe, there attended the extraordinary School of Musical Instrument Making, studied at several local masters, just to retrain as a metal aircraft builder (the advanced ones, you know: Me 262, AR 232, etc.) for the Luftwaffe around the mid 30s. After his war service between 1939 and 45 he suffered in Sibirian labor camps until 1948. Like by far most Sudeten-Germans in Bohemia his family was expropriated by the Allies and deported by the Czech; he had to resettle in Mittenwald, after this in nearby Garmisch, and start again making guitars under really, really modest conditions. Within only two or three years he was able to gain a huge reputation among a small group of local and Munich-, Stuttgart- and Frankfurt-based pro guitarists. Unlike in the USA, the number of jazz guitarists was quite restricted in the German 1950s and 60s. His guitars implement a tremendous knowledge of violin making procedures. In combination with "golden ears and hands" he continued to build an estimate of about 800 guitars in his one-man workshop between 1949 until 1972. Almost no advertizing was done, as most aspiring owners of a Lang guitar needed to wait two years on an average before their wish was fulfilled.

    Lang was a merciless perfectionist, from the painstaking ultra-selection of his tonewoods (some of Lang's leftover tonewood was bought by Theo Scharpach in the Netherlands - Scharpach guitars sound quite different to Lang's, one difference being that Lang never used X-bracing like Scharpach actually is doing) to the spraying of the finish, polishing and handing over the guitar to the customer (usually personally). He devoted full attention to even the smallest single feature on his guitars, at least in his most "golden period" between the mid 50s and 60s. To be clear: he rejected adjustable truss-rods by intention - for very good acoustic reasons, and so on! Even features that are regarded by some as 'bling', like, just one example, the celluloid "side bumpers", have a function: they stiffen the sides of the body, similar to the stringers of an aircraft fuselage.

    Unlike most guitar manufacturers and copy cats, Lang remained remarkably uninfluenced by the designs of much better known, past or contemporary, guitar brand names. The body shapes of his guitars are unique, as was his approach to arching curves, graduation and recurve of the plates. If I had to find analogies of his approach in the guitar world, well... nada... it's most likely century-old violin knowledge and techniques. Lang was relying on his own feelings and high craftsmanship and avoided to follow any of many unfounded guitar hypes and fads. Sometimes, it seems to me that he already knew about modern "herd mentality" and "informational cascades".

    Lang guitars speak with their own unique voice and are amazingly even through all registers. The Lang sensation already starts when you put the (original) guitar on your right upper leg - it sits completely comfortable because it stays perfectly balanced in playing condition! They have a sophisticated, powerful tone, and some show an incredible resonance or acoustic "liveliness", due to resonance profiles with many strong single resonances. The dynamics are very high (FYI: X-braced D'Angelicos are not on a par). Electrically, despite the often large body deepness, the feedback tendency is much lower than with most comparable brands.


    I own and play - among other guitars and instruments - a handful of Langs, and I've been lucky enough to being able to compare about 60 Lang guitars of all periods, directly against themselves and against some really costly and prestigious US-made vintage and new guitars; almost all of them were perfectly restored and equally set-up to a high standard. A revelation not only to my humble self, and I really wish that more guitarists (and guitar makers!) would be able to experience such A/B tests, standardized as much as it gets by now.
    As with some other excellent archtop designs, a few attempts were also made to replicate Lang's work. Most of them did more or less fail because the builders didn't have the "wood sensitivity", the ears and hands of Mr. Lang. Some of these copies (usually called tributes or hommages, as builders started to accept that they couldn't come close to original Langs) emerge now and then.


    In the past I've met or heard of a few folks (also in this forum) - who said they were unimpressed when playing a Lang guitar. Well, you'll find such people everywhere, knocking all sorts of items.
    My advice to them is: don't rely on what other people are thinking, stating, hearing or doing (including my own statements here!). Above all, don't rely on video clips - like many seem to love here around - when evaluating archtop guitars! This does not only distract, but, IMO, does not work at all.
    You have to deal and bond personally with the guitars, feel/hear/see the quality with your own senses. After you've brought your most revered archtop guitar(s) with you, and we've tested it directly, under the same conditions, against two or three dozens others during a friendly, private session for half a day... and you've reaffirmed that Lang guitars are not for you, then, and only then, will I accept that you're honestely speaking. Please, consider that some people would be grateful to hear such words from you, as the number of still existing Lang guitars is so limited. Although, when I think about it: I've met one or two persons who stated so, but their body language was speaking louder than words!

    Artur Lang Archtop-gibson-l-5-wm-1996-vs-lang-super-deluxe-ca-1959-vs-triggs-stromberg-copy-2001-vs-roger-luxus-jpg

    Many wonderful archtop guitars may be out there, and we should always consider that they're nothing but tools for making music. But, as everyone knows, there are good and bad tools! Artur Lang's tools are definitely among the former, and his name is still one of the most left out in the dark when it comes to fine acoustic archtop guitars.

    You can find some more fotos plus a data sheet (done by a good friend of mine) of this Lang "Super Deluxe" here: RESTAURATION EINER LANG „SUPER DE LUXE“ << Schlaggitarren
    (wish more guitar folks would use such sheets for sincere comparison purposes!)



    "... the greater part of all manufacture now is mass-production; in which, although there is some bad workmanship, much is excellent. Much of it has never been surpassed and some never equaled... In this domain of quality our environment is deteriorating... The deterioration comes not because of bad workmanship in mass-production but because the range of qualities which mass-production is capable of just now is so dismally restricted; because each is so uniform and because nearly all lack depth, subtlety, overtones, variegation, diversity, or whatever you choose to call that which distinguishes the workmanship of a Stradivarius violin...
    Unless workmanship comes to be understood and appreciated for the art it is, our environment will lose much of the quality it still retains."

    (From: Page not found – UCSB Art Department )
    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 05-15-2015 at 12:28 PM.

  10. #9

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    I'll have to keep an eye out for one of these ....

    But I imagine most of these are in Europe .....

    If I can get my job to send me back to one of our European offices ... I can use that as an excuse to look for a Lang.

  11. #10

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    Thanks for the great write-up, Ol Fret. There's a whole lot of education just in that one post!

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by kkfan
    Thanks for the great write-up, Ol Fret. There's a whole lot of education just in that one post!
    Yes ...


    Vielen Dank!!

  13. #12

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    You're very welcome, folks!
    I have had some PM contact with the new owner and think he's really appreciating this guitar.

    Here a pic of my own favorite Lang (by now), a SUPER model with divided sound holes. It sports a Gibson BJB Pick-up which makes it plugged a deal Gibson-like sounding (let's face the fact that it's the Gibson humbuckers that make a big part of the "classic" Gibson electrics sound!), without that the own Lang voice gets lost.
    This guitar played through a mid 60s Hohner Orgaphon MH 41 or 45 or 60 all-tube amp is... outstanding (just avoiding the term Gibson killer, for the sake of peace here around; but heard it often from guitar fellows). These Hohners, however, kill the Fender Twin Reverbs (my own is collecting dust), making them not only looking like featherweights. Ok, as such the Hohners are useful above all as jazz club amps.

    Next to the guitar its builder Artur Lang, Roger Rossmeisl with Wes Montgomery, and Jimmy D'Aquisto (on bottom):Artur Lang Archtop-lang-super-early-60s-next-his-builder-r-rossmeisl-w-montgomery-j-daquisto-jpg

  14. #13

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    May as well make this Lang central. Here's one of mine - a lovely instrument:

  15. #14

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    Maybe we should ask the OP, if hijacking of this thread is allowed... not everyone is thinking 'the more the merrier' in any case.

    In a nutshell: Hammertone's is one of Lang's earliest archtop guitar models, probably around 1950 or 51. Though Lang used this body shape now and then up to the mid 50s, these sharp pointed sound holes appear only on his very first models. So this is the point where Lang started out as an archtop guitar maker; just one or two years later he had come up with completely own ideas.

    We call this body shape 'deep cutaway' model. It's a specific German-related shape with a deep impact on many other German brands. It was developed together by Wenzel Rossmeisl and Franz Hirsch in 1945/46 (Hammertone will know something, though I could tell more details on this special guitar story). To me an amazing performance if you think about the historical circumstances: at that time Germany lay in ruins. There was no infrastructure, no food, no tools, no firewoods - much less tonewoods. Still in the winter of 1946/47 an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people starved to death only in the western US/British/French occupation zones. Sorry, I'm derailing, though I know that Jazz musicians love telling - and listening to - stories written by life!


    Fotos of Lang guitar details convey only limited impression of Lang's subtlety and understatement. Most is buried in the construction and crafting. The outer appearance: who is suspecting that Lang used a 9-ply-body binding on most of his Super models (see above)? Or that the fine engraving on the metal headstock plates (btw., a very old feature in European plucked instrument making; not only decoration, there's a function too!) is showing a bunch of specific motifs that often vary in themselves?

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret
    Maybe we should ask the OP, if hijacking of this thread is allowed... not everyone is thinking 'the more the merrier' in any case.

    In a nutshell: Hammertone's is one of Lang's earliest archtop guitar models, probably around 1950 or 51. Though Lang used this body shape now and then up to the mid 50s, these sharp pointed sound holes appear only on his very first models. So this is the point where Lang started out as an archtop guitar maker; just one or two years later he had come up with completely own ideas.

    We call this body shape 'deep cutaway' model. It's a specific German-related shape with a deep impact on many other German brands. It was developed together by Wenzel Rossmeisl and Franz Hirsch in 1945/46 (Hammertone will know something, though I could tell more details on this special guitar story). To me an amazing performance if you think about the historical circumstances: at that time Germany lay in ruins. There was no infrastructure, no food, no tools, no firewoods - much less tonewoods. Still in the winter of 1946/47 an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people starved to death only in the western US/British/French occupation zones. Sorry, I'm derailing, though I know that Jazz musicians love telling - and listening to - stories written by life!


    Fotos of Lang guitar details convey only limited impression of Lang's subtlety and understatement. Most is buried in the construction and crafting. The outer appearance: who is suspecting that Lang used a 9-ply-body binding on most of his Super models (see above)? Or that the fine engraving on the metal headstock plates (btw., a very old feature in European plucked instrument making; not only decoration, there's a function too!) is showing a bunch of specific motifs that often vary in themselves?
    Another very educational post! Thanks!

    Love stories! I'm sure the OP loves stories too, especially those about his make of guitars.

  17. #16

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    FYI: Thanks to all for the detailed info on this remarkable builder. We've just posted a nice original blonde Super Deluxe Cutaway here:

    .1950-60's Artur Lang 'Super Deluxe'-

    Please feel free to call or Skype for a demo at your convenience.

    Cheers!

    -jv

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by archtops
    FYI: Thanks to all for the detailed info on this remarkable builder. We've just posted a nice original blonde Super Deluxe Cutaway here:

    .1950-60's Artur Lang 'Super Deluxe'-

    Please feel free to call or Skype for a demo at your convenience.

    Cheers!

    -jv
    This one didn't last long! What was the price?

  19. #18

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    That's the first time I've seen a Lang on archtop.com.

    If you want to look at another Lang Super De Luxe (now also sold), here is one:

    http://www.vintage-guitar.de/details...ng-f-hole.html
    Last edited by cmajor9; 09-10-2015 at 04:42 PM.

  20. #19

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    Are there reliable ways to date Langs? Not sure it matters but I guess I am curious. People tend to prize 'earlier as better' but I would find it difficult to believe experts don't learn something about their craft and improve as they go along.

    I read the couple of threads over on euroguitars, but other than hints that headstock plates might play a role, that cutaway shape and neck heel seem to play a role, once you get out of the deep cutaway and semi-round heel, it kind of becomes nebulous until you have Bill Lawrence pickups.

    Does f-hole (vintage-guitar.de version), split hole (archtop.com version or Ol'Fret's above), 'slice' version (Hammertone's pic above) mean something or was it more a matter of what the customer requested? flatcut cutaway vs 'normal' cutaway? Neck lamination thickness/style? Bumper count? Tailpiece (square harp type or type like Hammertone's and Ol'Fret's above)?

    There is some talk about headstock plates saying something but no hint as to what they say. There are flowers, ivy, simply engraved flowers, ivy across the whole top, a band from upper right to lower left, and occasionally other ones.

    Is there something more subtle like recurve depth?

    In the end I guess it doesn't matter. I assume there aren't many out there. And those who have them seem to love them. And the samples I have heard sound very nice.

    Gotta say both Ol'Fret's and Hammertone's guitars look beautifully made, as do the others linked.
    Last edited by travisty; 09-10-2015 at 07:16 PM.

  21. #20

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    A beauty! And yes, it's our first luthier built German archtop ever. Cheers! -jv

  22. #21

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    Joe:
    Luthier-built German archtops? Lang is a good place to start - the top of the heap.

    Not so easy to navigate the field, but there are excellent luthier-build carved archtops from a few others as well, including: Bachmann, Brauer, Dietrich, Dölling, Glassl, Hirsch, A. Hoyer, Rod. Hoyer, Kruel, Meinel, Neubauer, Reinl, Rossmeisl, Sandner, Schaufuss, Schuster, Seifert, Stärke, Todt, Wander, Windisch, Wolfrum, Wurlitzer, Zimmer, and more. These guys (and more) built under a wide variety of labels. It's a real voyage of discovery down a very different road. Enjoy the ride.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 09-11-2015 at 03:22 AM.

  23. #22

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    Amazing: a truly parallel universe! Many thanks, -jv

  24. #23

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    Slowly, Hammertone! You know that, regardless of whether enthusiasts of vintage archtop guitars live on this side or across the pond, most of them are rattled if they can't find a brand label or logo on the guitars. This is true on many German made guitars, and it's sometimes really hard to find out the correct builder's name. The violin world, my starting point some 40 years ago, doesn't care too much about labels, since more than 90% are fakes.

    I warmly congratulate Mr. JV for selling their "first luthier built German archtop ever" - and, yes, this one didn't last long! Wow, the former fact dwarfs our already very manageable German archtop world even more - LOL!
    This Lang model should originate from the mid 50s: archtops with the Maccaferri cutaway style were only made between roughly 1953 and 57, though he made a dozen or so real Maccaferri-style (domed) gypsy guitars later.


    Lang started his guitar workshop in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1949, after having expelled from Schönbach in absentia and 'returning' more dead than alive from the war atrocities and the following Gulag System in Sibiria (Soviet forced labor camps). Lang's life had already taken a change in the mid 30s and - like most Germans living around the Czech border (established in 1918) for many centuries - he was probably happy about the Munich Agreement in 1938.

    Lang achieved to turn his post-traumatic stress disorder into one-man power for making distinguished master guitars.

    I could tell where and how Lang worked as an expelled refugee in Garmisch between 1950 and 53, that amazingly short period after when he had already found most of his unique archtop principles, and then consequently stuck to them in his own home until he was forced to eventually close the workshop due to health problems in 1972.
    As a side note (jazzers are story tellers) I could portray the legendary US night club in Garmisch, the Casa Carioca, and its inglorious collapse, though I recently lost my archived fotos by an unfortunate accident.



    Travisty's reflections above makes me think if there are more than a handful people out there who are really interested in Lang archtops. While answers could be given, even with some certainty, people would have to consider at the outset that they could get more data than it might suit them. There's more ways to skin a cat: data and empirical methods of the violin world are not set in stone, hence are still arguable. However, the sophisticated and thoughtful craftsmanship, and above all, the sensitivity for wood and tone of luthiers like Amati, Stradivari or Guarneri set the golden standard. While according to newer double-blind studies a few modern builders are able to match up to the old luthiers, practically all contemporaries have still to follow the principles of the masters found some centuries ago. Back then, instruments were commissioned by secular and ecclesiastical princes and wealthy citizens, but it lasted 80 or more years until the best musicians noticed the quality. For me and some insiders, Lang guitars play in a similar league.


    It's not that I basically reject the discussion of Lang (or other master) archtop guitars, but my experiences to do so in the web is moderate at best, not least because some people feel easily challenged and tend to simple bashing ("I once tested a XX guitar, and it was nothing special", or similar phrases), especially if they're hooked on certain archtop brands, or if they experience that others might know a tad more.


    One question above should be highlighted: >> Is there something more subtle like recurve depth? <<

    Sure it is!
    The recurve of archtop boards is one of the most neglected aspects in modern archtop making. A frequently heard claim from top violin makers is: "the treatment of the 'edges' and the 'edge approach' seems to be one of significant distinguishing things about the old work".
    The depth of recurve is only one factor. The width of recurve and its distance from the center heart and outer edge play also a role, as do the arching curves and the graduation of the plates. Lang's maximal soundboard thicknesses vary between 5mm and 8mm, with an average of 7mm. Like many violin makers he kept the bass side 1.0 to 1.5mm thicker in comparison to the treble side, depending on the corresponding spruce stiffness.


    Lang was a student of the former reputable Schönbach "Musikfachschule", founded in 1873. Even decades later he followed this school's principles that based on the guidelines of some recognized violin makers then.

    Of course, not everything has withstood the test of time, or is no longer considered to be normative.
    One of such vagueness could be the (alleged) construction of Cremonese master instruments according to the golden ratio, or to simple ratios corresponding to musical intervalls. The Berlin based astute violin maker and acoustician Carl Schulze (d. 1903) found common dimensional ratios on Stradivari violins, related to the body length.

    Most of my credit with Lang guitars goes to my close friend and the only real Lang expert, German vintage guitar restorer, engineer - and perfectionist like Artur Lang: HR who prefers restoring/overhauling instead of doing forum work. With our different guitar backgrounds some might (almost) consider us to form a good team - maybe we are not, but we're friends!
    Of the approximately 75 Lang archtops (and many other brands) that I've been lucky enough to inspect, test and play by now, the majority was provided by him - along with countless words of advice. He met Lang personally in the early 60s.

    Lang guitars are amazingly strong and soundwise sophisticated players, even the very early ones up to 1953. His golden period, however, was rather between the mid 50s and mid 60s. Then the influence of US guitar design increased among German guitarists, and Lang had unwillingly to make some slight concessions to customers fads and the electric guitar age, like installing adjustable truss rods and develop some smaller models which show almost no recurve. Yet, these thinner or even double-cut (ES-330 style) "electric" guitars were also fully carved from spruce and maple and have to be considered one of the downright glorious archtops out there - for the reason alone that in the 60/70s not many competitive guitars were made this way in this class.


    The necks of Lang guitars were custom-carved (I remember one special neck for a blind player) and vary considerably in dimensions and profile. While most early 50's neck models are comparably slim, my own Langs feature medium-oval profiles and are comfortable 44mm and 45mm wide at the zero fret.

    You have to know that for acoustical reasons (tuning fork) Lang strictly tapered the necks less than what most players of US guitars are used to (seen from above), i.e. if the nut (zero fret) is 42mm, the maximal fretboard wideness will only be app. 50mm, and 45mm will end up to 53mm, and so on. My friend made some own tests in this respect. Among other things, once he glued a regular wide taper L-5 neck into one Lang: the surprising result was that the distinguished Lang tone suffered and the guitar got shifted towards a Gibson tone that in our ears always appears a bit too spread or... sorry, muddy. I don't think it's a general 'cultural' difference, but rather simple listening habits. I use to explain the different sound ideals with the difference between the bassy and 'dead' AFN sound to the airy and clear-voiced sound of German recording, like MPS records (MPS Records - Wikipedia ) or the clean sound that comes out of my favorite tube amps with Telefunken ECC-808s and PL-84s, resp. EL-503s: Hohner Orgaphon MH models 41 - 75. I wish I had never come across these amps because they make my formerly beloved Fender Twin Reverb look and sound like a toy, and collect dust... just the Polytone still gets use due to its clear weight advantage.


    Sometimes I hear the term "show guitar", meant for Lang guitars. This probably relates to the "side-bumpers" or celluloid stringers (that are glued and additionally fixed in the sides with really small celluloid 'spikes' - just one detail of Lang's workmanship) and the individually engraved metal headstock plates (usually nickel-plated brass). Ok, the former make the body look like a fancy cake (in German: Torten-Gitarre), and the latter can be regarded as a hommage to 18/19th century musical instrument making. Even many zithers made before the war in Lang's former Schönbach homeland show such engraved plates. However, like with all things around his guitars, Lang's main attention was to gain more function or tone, here by stiffening the sides and there the headstock area - good for the air pumping efficiency and the intonation!


    One could tell much more, but this is it in a nutshell: Artur Lang was years ahead of some collegues in the 1950s and 60s.
    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 09-11-2015 at 04:48 PM.

  25. #24

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    Clearly, there is a book here whose time is long overdue. Kudos on the wealth of information, which we've never seen elsewhere. Keep up the good work! Best, -jv

  26. #25

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    May as well revive this thread:


    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-25-2020 at 08:19 PM.