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  1. #151

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    german made heinz seifert guitar

    all rest is added on..the guild bigbsy..the bigsby aluminum bridge..the (gibson) p90's

    i dig the triangular fretmarkers...rickenbacker-esque

    we have a couple of german guitar experts here..hopefully they will chime in

    cheers

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #152

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    Don't forget the Barney Kessel signature chicken head knob!

  4. #153

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    Thank you for that, very helpful. I looked up that name and images and it is clear that is correct. I did not find any non cutaway types like mine. I now wonder about the age, it was well used when I got it in about 1960.
    Glen Alison

  5. #154

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    Hi Glen,

    Seifert: possibly - but I am not 100% positive without seeing more details. One photo is not enough as there are endless quite similiar looking GDR made archtops out there.
    Strange: headstock is reverse to any Seifert I have seen so far. Strange too is the fact that it is a noncutay.
    If you could supply a front picture of the head, a side view & back view of the neck / head transition, some detail shots of the heel might help a lot to identify the maker.

    Cheers

  6. #155

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    As noted, more information is needed, but it:
    -has a carved top;
    -was hand-built in East Germany, which was a very different place from West Germany at the time;
    -was built in the 1950s;
    -has been unfortunately (IMO) converted into an electric guitar in a way that cannot easily be undone, with big holes cut into the top for the two P-90s, as well as holes for the switches.
    -the "square screw in the heel" is a "Stauffer-Legnani" bolt. It attaches the neck to the body, and also allows for adjustment of the neck angle (see photo). Used on many East German archtops as well as some West German ones, and on various other stringed instruments. The joint itself is either a straight or tapered mortice joint - no dovetail.

    It should sound great as an electic archtop guitar, but its acoustic function has been severely compromised. It is worth the value of the hardware on it.
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-stauffer-legnani-jpg 

  7. #156

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    so glen, how does that thing sound? 2 p90s and a single volume....3 way pup switch...and pups close together..i'd imagine that middle pickup position sounds pretty wild!...

    it's a compromised artifact, but vintage compromised...so still very intriguing!! really cool

    glad some of our german guitar specialists have appeared

    cheers

  8. #157

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    Hi All

    Hoping you can help me with this

    I have an old archtop guitar of an unknown make been looking everywhere and it looks like a German Jazz guitar from around the 50s very much has similar features to some Rogers / Hernnsdorf / Perlgolds

    The edge trim and inside the sound holes are ivory not sure on the tuning knobs

    It has foreign stamped on the headstock so it's an import and 49 stamped on the side of the headstock along with a rounded glue mark and the neck doesn't have a tension rod

    The pickguard is a later addition and looks to have been replace multiple times

    The inside label has peeled off so we don't actually have anything to help us identify it

    I could be wrong about my assumptions but any help is muchly appreciated
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-screenshot_20200717-193640__01-jpg Vintage German Archtops-screenshot_20200717-193549__01-jpg Vintage German Archtops-screenshot_20200717-193612__01-jpg Vintage German Archtops-screenshot_20200717-193625__01-jpg Vintage German Archtops-screenshot_20200717-193559__01-jpg 

  9. #158

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    look into musima guitars...that tailpiece shape was used by them

    nice spruce top


    cheers

  10. #159

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    Thanks for the reply neatomic

    Would you know of anymore guitar makers from that period that had a round logo I see musima does have a round logo but most appear to be written ones and I don't know if that's beacause the logo changed after a period of time to the written one

    I seen Perlgolds have an almost round logo also just wondering if there might be more makees that I could look into

  11. #160

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    It's an East German-built instrument. Makers in the Workers' Paradise used tailpieces, bridges and tuning machines from the same suppliers, so there is a lot of overlap between them in terms of hardware, Most of them used the "Stauffer-Legnani" neck bolt system as well. And there were box-makers who were separate from neck makers, so one sees similar necks on a variety of different guitar bodies as well.

    This guitar looks pretty decent in terms of its design and appointments. It's clearly not a low-end model, based on the more elaborate purfling, the use of rosewood for the headstock overlay and pickguard, and what appears to be a German carve on the plates.

    It has lots of similarities to some of the models distributed by Perl-Gold that were built for them by Martin Graubner, but could just as easily be from another maker.

    Please post some pix of the entire front and back of the instrument, in natural daylight, so we may get a more complete picture of the instrument.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-18-2020 at 03:05 PM.

  12. #161

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    Can't say much about the guitar I am afraid, just wondering who would have stamped the word 'Foreign' on the headstock? Are you located in the US? Was that once a common procedure when importing foreign instruments to the US? And what may be the meaning of '49' on the side of the headstock? Too bad the label has been torn off through the f-hole.

    Nice spruce top indeed.

  13. #162

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    From one of my friends who used to buy and sell antiques they said some products if exported had to be stamped with foreign this was before the EU and so the UK where I live would have required a foreign stamp

    I have no clue on the 49 unless that's like a year marker

    Indeed a shame we have no actual markings from the maker either by a headstock logo or the inner label all we have is a visible location where the inner label was and also the circular glue residue where the headstock logo would have been

    Thanks for the comments all really helpful information

  14. #163

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    you can't base it solely on the residue left on headstock..doesn't mean emblem was round...could just be how they applied the glue...or even how they removed it!

    here's a musima with same type headstock




    also hamertone is correct, many of the german guitar makers shared parts...so those tailpieces do show up often...on herbert wurlitzers and heinz seiferts..and the triangular fret marked necks as well...

    unless you find an excact duplicate, might be very difficult to determine exactly

    luck

    cheers

  15. #164

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    for what it's worth, back in the day when Gibson was exporting guitars they had a small made in usa stamp on the back of the headstock [small, not like the large one that appeared on guitars starting circa '70]
    although not sure exactly why as they already had usa printed on the label inside.

  16. #165

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    Here's something to refresh this lovely thread - several Hoyer Specials built from @1950-@1965. The one at the bottom middle is a custom mini-me Special, 16" wide, with a 23 1/2" scale. And the one at the bottom right is a Hoyer Solist, the older but smaller brother to the Special, that shares with its larger sibling the Fu-Manchu soundholes, fully carved top and back, 24 3/4" scale, and fabulously playable neck.
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-hoyer-x-9-lo-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 10-29-2020 at 01:45 AM.

  17. #166

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    Looks like somebody got a new Special, middle row far right.

  18. #167

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    Quote Originally Posted by What now?
    Looks like somebody got a new Special, middle row far right.
    Someone's paying attention. That one followed me home, banged on the door and demanded to be let in. But another one is leaving the roost in a few days.

  19. #168
    Hello I am completely new to this, but I have already learned a lot from this forum.

    I would like to submit to you this Framus studio 5/51 (resonanz electric) that I would like to buy. I guess considering the price of these guitars it's not necessarily very high quality but what is sure is that it's vintage and looks in pretty good condition.

    Do you know which luthier could have built these guitars?
    Do you think that everything is original or have there been changes made or re-gluing?

    And in general if anyone has had the opportunity to play on this type of guitar, if he could testify to the qualities and defects of this model.

    Thank you for your advice and your knowledge.

    Vintage German Archtops-15-54-42-2887ddb8-42d2-11eb-817f-258bbb1f1cc2-jpg

    Vintage German Archtops-15-54-42-2887ddb8-42d2-11eb-817f-258bbb1f1cc2-jpg

    Vintage German Archtops-15-54-50-6fe0061a-42d2-11eb-b9ad-c94193f25419-jpg

    Vintage German Archtops-15-54-57-7ad9c701-42d2-11eb-b9ad-c94193f25419-jpg

    Vintage German Archtops-15-55-12-90851c98-42d2-11eb-ac52-57e0412e6010-jpg

    Vintage German Archtops-15-55-12-90851c98-42d2-11eb-ac52-57e0412e6010-jpg

    Vintage German Archtops-15-55-26-bd7a345b-42d2-11eb-9a3d-e9c475bd1e8f-jpg

    Vintage German Archtops-15-55-26-bd7a345b-42d2-11eb-9a3d-e9c475bd1e8f-jpg

  20. #169

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    That's an interesting looking instrument. The truly knowledgeable will be along presently.

  21. #170

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    ^ that's a cool framus...looks to be original...(sans the headstock framus logo)...framus built some nice guitars and basses...that high pickguard setup is a very framus touch...

    framus are usually very comfortable guitars to play....i always like them

    here's another



    cheers

  22. #171
    Thanks, it seems good to me too. But do you see the little scar at the base of the neck? I don't know if it's the original collage or something else?

  23. #172

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    Quote Originally Posted by simonmagus1984
    Thanks, it seems good to me too. But do you see the little scar at the base of the neck? I don't know if it's the original collage or something else?
    Do you mean that slight crazing of the lacquer? That is completely unsurprising in wooden object of that age. i shouldn't worry about it.

  24. #173

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    Quote Originally Posted by simonmagus1984
    Thanks, it seems good to me too. But do you see the little scar at the base of the neck? I don't know if it's the original collage or something else?
    i believe thats just the way framus built the neck joint...here's a pic of the neck removed....this guitar had some more serious damage, but you can still see the clear joint that is similar to the one in your pic




    cheers

  25. #174
    Thanks for your answer neatomic

  26. #175

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    Zeidler archtops are very responsive, with lively acoustic tone and great projection. Very light to hold and comfortable to play.


    Many here will agree that John R. Zeidler (1958 - 2002) was one of the finest American archtop-guitar makers, a master who believed that the instruments he crafted should be "every bit as beautiful as they sounded".

    So what about that episode, why would have been Zeidler's name and work, by a close shave, connected with vintage German archtops?
    Well, it had to do with the fate of Musima after the German reunification.

    The book Musima - Guitars for the Whole World, A Musical Giant from Markneukirchen and its History 1954 - 2003 is going into detail. It was well-researched and published (German/English) by the Musikinstrumenten-Museum Markneukirchen in 2020.
    In the 1980s, VEB Musikinstrumentenbau Markneukirchen (Musima) was an enterprise of superlative dimensions. For some years, Musima, which had about 1200 employees, was regarded as the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in Europe. Guitars, violins, cellos, recorders and numerous other products from Markneukirchen were exported to more than 70 countries wolrdwide.

    The book is not so much for guitar aficionados who are mainly interested in guitar models and their specifications, but more about the historical context, the background that, after all, had been determining what was going on at the Musima production line and on the work benches.
    Like so much German history-related stuff, the Musima story is complex and long-winding, though more realistic and enlightening than any blockbuster could impart.

    The text passages come from the recommended book. The inclined reader is asked to get an example in order to get his own overview and support the museum as well, which - like most museums in the moment - is cash-strapped:


    >> In the aftermath of this peaceful revolution [the collapse of the Socialist SED regime], the new authorities were faced with the question of how to deal with the state-owned companies (VEB), [...] the idea of forming a holding company - a type of "state holding company" comprising the entire national wealth - prevailed. This trust agency ("Treuhandanstalt") commenced its work on 1 July 1990. It had control over approximately 8,500 companies, one of which was Musima. Thus, practically overnight, the trust agency became the largest employer in the world and was responsible for four million employees. It privatised, restuctured and liquidated companies in a non-stop process. At times, companies were being sold to interested parties every few minutes. Almost 90 percent of these privatisations had been completed by the end of the Treuhand of 1992.

    "The Treuhand needed to reinvent itself constantly. The number of checklists and auditing requirements we were required to observe increased steadily", but we just ignored them - which was possible because there were no consequences. The employees at the trust agency had been given the guarantee that they would not need to fear prosecution for negligent conduct. The screening of investors often took place within a mere few hours. Things should be fast, fast, fast! This resulted in premature contracts with legal loopholes. Many purchase transactions contained no target criteria for preserving jobs or did not specify the investment commitments.

    On 1 May 1990, VEB Musikinstrumentenbau Markneukirchen was converted into Musikinstrumentenbau Musima GmbH. [Subsequently, all attempts under changing ownerships to revive the company, including a Management-Buy-Out, failed.
    The next step:] "Fender Musical Instruments Deutschland GmbH with headquarters in Düsseldorf, as a subsidiary of the Fender USA Corporation, rents the [Musima] production and administration buildings [...] as of 1 Januar 1997 [...] as well as all the production facilities, for a monthly rental of 65,000 marks. The rental contract is concluded for the period of five years, after which Fender will take over the buildings and facilities for a price of 7 million marks". In order to be able to fulfil this contract, Musima will cease production on 31 December, 1996. [The authors of the book were not able to discover why this plan did not come to fruition].

    As early as 1992, there were rumours and indications of improper business activities surrounding Musima. For example, the wood storage - the company's "treasure trove" - was allegedly plundered, and valuable tonewoods for violins sold on the black market. The insolvency administrator later also speaks of "an alleged wood dealer", who was said to have been commissioned to assess the value of the wood storage, but probably emptied it instead.

    [Several shareholders, CEOs and near-insolvencies later]: One person who was seriously interested in the deal and did not merely want to become a managing director was Douglas Baumoel, an American. He joined the Controlotron Company, which had been founded by his father. Over a period of forty years, this company had risen to become the world market leader in ultrasound flow management. Douglas Baumoel [a guitar player and the founder of Aspire Records, a jazz record label with extended sales via retail chains in Europe] revised the company's international sales and marketing strategy. It was Berthold Neidhardt, a longstanding sales expert in the USA who had awakened Baumoel's interest in Musima. Berthold "Bert" Neidhardt was an old hand in the musical instruments import and export business who had been familiar with Musima since its founding. As early as 1950, he had exported musical instruments from Hamburg, particularly to North America, including products made in Markneukirchen.

    In early December 1997, Baumoel returned for a week to Markneukirchen in order to gather detailed information. Subsequently, he was particularly impressed by the employees' expertise, which far transcended what he was familiar with in similar companies in the USA and Eastern Europe. His enthusiasm spread to three proven specialists in the field. John Zeidler, Bert Neidhardt and Mark Satzman agreed to work for him and for Musima if he needed them. Zeidler was to become the "director of product development".
    Baumoel assumed that he would require 2.85 million marks in order to be able to implement his plan. [...] he also presented concrete figures for the production side. In the next five years, sales could be expanded from 11,000 to 45,000 instruments. Baumoel was also surprised that the long history of producing guitars in Markneukirchen had never been honoured in any way, and particularly that there was no reference to C.F. Martin, who had learned the craft in Markneukirchen from his father. He also noted that the Musima advertising never mentioned the fact that "every employee at every stage of production is a master in his field".

    However, as it appears, Baumoel's commitment was not welcomed by everyone in Markneukirchen. He considered that he had been unfairly ousted. During his visit to Markneukirchen on 10 February 1998, he had been given a deadline of March 13, by which time he would have to procure the investment amount. However, this deadline was then brought forward to March 2. Furthermore, he had been openly threatened one evening by an unknown person in the bar of his hotel in Plauen who had told him that if he really wanted to move to Markneukirchen, things would not turn out well for him. He had in fact planned to "settle down in this wonderful corner of the world". In keeping with the threat was also the fact that documents he had submitted in relation to a bridging loan "had mysteriously disappeared". "I suppose that somebody had put pressure on the bank to make the papers disappear".

    Baumoel ultimately lost his patience. On 22 February 1998, he wrote an open letter, in which he stated, among other things "[...] unfortunately, I have the feeling that double standards are being applied when it comes to domestic and foreign investors, although my concept pays undivided attention to both the domestic and the foreign market. [...] Now, the deadlines are so short that it is impossible, despite all our efforts, to fulfil them in an orderly fashion and in good time [...]". <<


    And so the fate of Musima took its course. On 1 April 2003, the last Musima owner filed for insolvency, the former facilities derelicted.
    This chapter of the (ex-)socialists in Markneukirchen and the capitalist (West-) German Treuhandgesellschaft was not glorious at all, rather mean on both sides.
    Musima guitars, at least those from the 1950s to the 1970s, could win any contest in the value-for-money ratio, especially the solid woods Roger German carve clones, and the laminated archtops could earn the title "thunk champion". Yet, Musima and John Zeidler, I guess, would have been glorious partners in the field of archtop guitar making.

    Vintage German Archtops-dscf5290b-jpg
    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 02-17-2021 at 08:01 PM.

  27. #176

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    I enjoyed the book tremendously, but it also requires a bit of reading between the lines, as it stops short of calling out various deeply involved people as corrupt, crooks, and thieves, whose actions over more than one generation led directly to the disappearance of Musima. Perhaps it's implicit for those who experienced the joys of the Worker's Paradise and the period thereafter - OF COURSE these characters were corrupt, crooks, and thieves. But North Americans are more naive when it comes to such matters, I suspect. Anyway, still a good book.

    Regarding John Zeidler, his instruments have many design cues that evoke German archtops, to me. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet the man and talk about guitars with him.

  28. #177

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    Hammertone, some names of the involved people you call crooks are known - it had no consequence.

    The human factor. We are in a comfortable position to judge from today's perspective, but who of us can say with certainty how far WE would have gone then? After decades of socialism, planned economy and nepotism. After the acting of the Stasi, which was perhaps only surpassed by the Gestapo, or by Alexander von Benckendorff's horrific Russian Secret Police in the 18th century.
    To the people in the East who had lost their jobs, the trust agency was the epitome of inhuman capitalism and mainly associated with deception, expropriation and colonisation. For those in the West, the "Treuhand" stood for a strategy which was indeed painful, but without an alternative; ultimately successful, but first and foremost, extremely expensive.

    The "Treuhand" was a unique experiment - similar to our experiences in this Covid pandemic. What we can say about the former, after more than 30 years, is that the German reunification seems to be successful, but it is far from being over.

    Yes, I also wish I had had the opportunity to meet John Zeidler, and I would have been very curious about Zeidler-designed Musima guitars!





    Hard times create strong people.
    Strong people create good times.
    Good times create weak people.
    Weak people create hard times.


  29. #178

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    I spied this lovely specimen on the local ebay classifieds. It was advertised as an Isana, the Elvis guitar. But the curve of the carve of the top and the fact that the neck was attached with the clock-winding bolt mechanism made me think otherwise. It seemed to me to be from the DDR. Since there is no truss rod I felt like it was from the 50s, in my admittedly amateur opinion. I briefly consulted Hammertone, and he concurred.


    So I went for it. It could use new frets and there are some cracks in the body to deal with at some point. But it sounds really good to me. The tone is bright and clear... and loud.


    The bridge was wrong. It didn't match the fretboard radius and its base didn't fit the curve of the top. The tailpiece, I have no idea if it's original.


    I've attached a few pictures, including one of the inside, which looks like a saloon by the cold light of day. That blob in the corner was a gigantic lint ball that later made its way out, spontaneously, like the last straggler at a party.


    Vintage German Archtops-img_0148-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0149-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0147-jpeg
    Vintage German Archtops-img_0163-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0178-jpeg
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-img_0153-jpeg 

  30. #179

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    That's an Epiphone Frequensator tailpiece, or at least a copy of one. I would doubt that it's original, but as long as it works, so what. IMO the requirement for having everything completely original is silly. Sometimes replacement parts just work better. Sometimes not, but as long as it gets the job done I'm fine with it. That's a cool-looking old guitar.

  31. #180

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret
    To the people in the East who had lost their jobs, the trust agency was the epitome of inhuman capitalism and mainly associated with deception, expropriation and colonisation. For those in the West, the "Treuhand" stood for a strategy which was indeed painful, but without an alternative; ultimately successful, but first and foremost, extremely expensive.

    The "Treuhand" was a unique experiment - similar to our experiences in this Covid pandemic. What we can say about the former, after more than 30 years, is that the German reunification seems to be successful, but it is far from being over.
    It is very rare to hear a thoughtful and balanced characterisation of the "Treuhand"! I feel that in recent years this whole story gets more and more shoehorned into political ideologies leading to very much lob-sided accounts.

  32. #181

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    Quote Originally Posted by supersoul
    I spied this lovely specimen on the local ebay classifieds. It was advertised as an Isana, the Elvis guitar. But the curve of the carve of the top and the fact that the neck was attached with the clock-winding bolt mechanism made me think otherwise. It seemed to me to be from the DDR. Since there is no truss rod I felt like it was from the 50s, in my admittedly amateur opinion. I briefly consulted Hammertone, and he concurred.


    So I went for it. It could use new frets and there are some cracks in the body to deal with at some point. But it sounds really good to me. The tone is bright and clear... and loud.


    The bridge was wrong. It didn't match the fretboard radius and its base didn't fit the curve of the top. The tailpiece, I have no idea if it's original.


    I've attached a few pictures, including one of the inside, which looks like a saloon by the cold light of day. That blob in the corner was a gigantic lint ball that later made its way out, spontaneously, like the last straggler at a party.


    Vintage German Archtops-img_0148-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0149-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0147-jpeg
    Vintage German Archtops-img_0163-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0178-jpeg
    That is a lovely instrument. Congratulations, and play it in good health!

  33. #182

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    @supersoul: That looks like a very nice and good quality guitar you found! Interestingly, there is one quite similar on eBay Kleinanzeigen at the moment.

    @sgosnell: Several German makers also used the Frequensator tailpiece on their archtops, so it may well be original.

  34. #183

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    What I don't know about German archtops fills several books.

  35. #184

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    ABM made a very good copy of the Frequensator tailpiece. The baseplate was thicker than that on the original Frequenstor and did not split. It was used by Hofner on the Model 462 archtop, as shown below. A similar tailpiece was also used by Roger on a few Berlin-labelled guitars, as shown below.

    I think there was also an East German version - IIRC, I have one on a guitar around here somewhere...
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-img_0210-jpg Vintage German Archtops-roger-super-986-1_zpsb67b4e13-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-23-2021 at 03:29 PM.

  36. #185

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    Here's another East German guitar with a body similar to that posted by supersoul:
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-img_0137-jpg 

  37. #186

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    What I don't know about German archtops fills several books.
    Me too, and those books are in German which I'm not so good at reading. I have been reading up on them a lot lately, mainly the various German vintage guitar sites, and also the article on Rogers guitars. I'm thinking of picking up the book mentioned above, Musima - Guitars for the Whole World, A Musical Giant from Markneukirchen and its History 1954 - 2003 and I'd like to visit Markneukirchen when it's possible to travel again. Premiere Guitar has a nice long article about Markneukirchen.

    I agree about not keeping these old guitars "mint." For one thing, I tend to feel more comfortable playing guitars that aren't mint, and perhaps have some scratches and wear marks. With a brand new guitar I'm afraid that I'm going to hurt it somehow, and my playing can be inhibited. Aside from my first couple guitars (an Aria Pro II shredder with a lightning bolt across the front!) I've always bought used. The Frequensator looks nice and it does it's job.

    @cmajor9 not that I'm going to buy it, but where is the one that looks similar? These old guitars are addicting.

    @Hammertone That does look a lot like mine, except in Fire Engine Red! It's a beauty. And thanks for answering my questions back when I was looking.

  38. #187

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  39. #188

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    Quote Originally Posted by supersoul
    I spied this lovely specimen on the local ebay classifieds. It was advertised as an Isana, the Elvis guitar. But the curve of the carve of the top and the fact that the neck was attached with the clock-winding bolt mechanism made me think otherwise. It seemed to me to be from the DDR. Since there is no truss rod I felt like it was from the 50s, in my admittedly amateur opinion. I briefly consulted Hammertone, and he concurred.


    So I went for it. It could use new frets and there are some cracks in the body to deal with at some point. But it sounds really good to me. The tone is bright and clear... and loud.


    The bridge was wrong. It didn't match the fretboard radius and its base didn't fit the curve of the top. The tailpiece, I have no idea if it's original.


    I've attached a few pictures, including one of the inside, which looks like a saloon by the cold light of day. That blob in the corner was a gigantic lint ball that later made its way out, spontaneously, like the last straggler at a party.


    Vintage German Archtops-img_0148-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0149-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0147-jpeg
    Vintage German Archtops-img_0163-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0178-jpeg


    Until the 1960s, some of the old-school master guitar makers were still busy in the Markneukirchen area. Usually, these were educated violin makers, so they were able to carve really good archtop bodies from solid woods. Just have a look at the cleats, the hot hide glue, the shape of these tonebars: that's one way to form extraordinary bracing for an acoustic archtop, not just using plain bulky and uniformly rectangular bars!
    OTOH, violin makers didn't know too much about making guitar necks. The necks of these guitars were not reinforced, thus more like little baseball bats. Only top masters like the Seiferts, Herbert Todt, Willy Wolfrum etc., were able to manufacture slimmer and well-playable necks (unreinforced). The resourceful Wenzel Rossmeisl, during his Markneukirchen stay (around 1947 - 1951), was one of the first to create stiff and slim guitar necks in Germany due to a special gluing technique involving heat and high pressure over some days. The Roger guitars he made later in Mittenwald until 1958/59 are more Louisville Sluggers ...


    Master archtop guitar makers had been working in and around Markneukirchen before Roger arrived (for example, Otwin, and others), but Roger, the very first musical company that was expropriated by the GDR (the next one, among many, many others, had been Ernst Heinrich Roth / EROMA, a legendary family in the violin world - Charles Mingus' 'The Bass' was a Roth) was the starting point for many East German guitar "brands". You can notice this by the fact that craftsmen like the Seiferts or Herbert Todt, and others, offered archtop guitars both in the cello and the German carve style. German carve not only means a certain appearance, but a defined way of production: Hammertone's flashing red guitar above (a Marma specialty, though this one could or could not be a Seifert) was made according to the German carve method, which was originally invented in Markneukirchen before WW I. Others, like supersoul's bordeaux-colored guitar, fall in between: they appear to be manufactured in the cello style, with a flattened, just slightly arched center (German carve is always straight flat) to offer a more_visual_only Roger German carve.


    A nice guitar! Do we know who made it? Not sure here. East German quality "brands" (international dealers in the GDR or in German "Fortschicker"), allowed only in the GDR's early years - like Hemosch (Heinrich Moritz Schuster) or PerlGold (Kurt Gropp) - sold such quality guitars. Master names didn't mean anything in the workers' and peasants' state: from 1960 or so, by far most big names (completely unknown outside the GDR, and often inside as well) were "integrated" in producers' cooperatives like the Migma or Sinfonia, finally Musima. The old masters got tired and retired ...

    More than in West Germany, these guitars were handmade or somehow custom made according to the wishes of the Fortschicker - rarely the customer. The sound hole shapes, the headstock, the bling, and so on, don't mean too much for assigning the actual makers.
    The overall style (and the dimensions) of this guitar should be very similar to some particular models that were sold by Kurt Gropp, and were finished in a not frequently found bordeaux-red. The pics below are not mine, but I own the same model - can't find the pics on my machine at the moment. A great sounding electro-acoustic archtop that really deserves that name:


    Vintage German Archtops-perlgold-seifert-style-cutaway-bordeaux-sunburst-front-back-jpg

    Sorry for (m)any omissions - German vintage guitars could cause considerable confusion and often demand much background knowledge! I agree that some books on this subject should be compiled by knowledgeable folks ...



    Yes, Frequensator-style tailpieces were produced in East and West Germany since the 1940s. By far most of them work until this day without problems. Note that the short leg isn't as short as the original by Epiphone, so no problem with whatsoever string length ...



    << [...] the last straggler at a party. >>
    Wow, what a nice thought in these times in particular - being a night owl in a overcrowded jazz club!
    Once again, jazz guys, stick that stupid pandemic out: all pandemics were gone after two, or so, years (ok, a former teacher of mine would have said: all, except our human stupidity!). The Golden Twenties have to appear again!
    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 02-23-2021 at 07:56 PM.

  40. #189

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmajor9
    Cool, that looks pretty similar to the one I got. It looks nicely refurbished.

    @Ol' Fret

    I looked up Kurt Gropp Perlgold and found this:

    which also looks a lot like mine. He's picking/strumming close to the bridge and sometimes he has on a capo, so it's not a good representation of how it sounds for jazz.

    The neck on mine is rather like a baseball bat, but it fits my hand comfortably. The nut is about 40.5mm, pretty narrow. The frets are pretty bad, so I have the action at a little over 2 mm at the 12th fret. I intend to change the frets in the near future.

    The top of mine indeed has a slight curve to it. It's not flat. That's good to know that the German curve is always flat on top.

    I spent a few days on a deep dive into German archtops on the internet, trying to figure out what mine is, trying to match characteristics to individual makers. Like you said, the bling isn't really useful to determining individual makers.

  41. #190

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    Supersoul, the PerlGold guitar construction in the video above is quite different to your guitar:

    This one has a domed or pressed soundboard with a comparably low arching, yours is a conventionally- or cello-carved guitar - like the gut pics reveal.
    This one has a cross bracing on the back, yours should have no bracing there.
    These factors alone contribute to a very different tone, in addition to the picking, the chords and probably the strings as well, which to most ears used to jazz must sound a bit "unjazzy".


    Only 40.5mm nut width? (let's talk of the zero fret width, and a string spacer instead of the nut)
    This would strongly point to a 1960's guitar: most Germans archtop guitars didn't follow exactly the general neck width the US market leader rolled out on their Gibsons during the 1960s - after all, how would the East Germans behind the Iron Curtain know about? -, but in some cases they did so, more or less.

  42. #191

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    Some uncertainty still seems to exist in the international guitar world when it comes to the Roger (or real) "German carve".
    How can we recognize if a hollowbody guitar was made in the German carve tradition? Well, we have to know how exactly the German carve was made. The steps are comparably simple and reproducible, so that Wenzel Rossmeisl, the "inventor" of the German carve in the guitar world, is sometimes called the Leo Fender of archtop guitar making.

    Let's have a look:
    1. Glue the radial cut, aged, solid plate halves together (usually spruce and maple).
    2. Plane the plates to a uniform thickness throughout.
    3. Shape the inside hollowing with a wood cutter along a mould.
    4. Blend the transition of the cut hollow to the gluing surface along the bottom edges. Roger and his folks did this probably with a (handheld) sanding machine.
    5. Flip the plate and cut the channeling (recurve) with a channeling cutter, again along a mould.
    6. Plane down the edges outside of the recurve to the desired thickness.
    7. Cut the sound holes.
    8. Select, fit and glue two longitudinal tonebars underneath (again, like with the corresponding upper surface, that bottom center area is strictly flat)
    After the box is closed:
    9. Cut the channels, then glue in the purfling and binding.
    10. Blend and smooth the transition of the binding and recurve area with gouges, violin maker planes and scrapers.


    For better illustration below three pics of an original Roger Super / Luxus Alpine spruce soundboard.
    It's a late one, hence these conventional ff-holes, instead of the former cateyes; hand-lettered (probably by Wenzel himself) with the note "Super Nat.[ural]". The wood for these Roger flagships must have been selected by hand. It shows small / tight annual rings in the center, widening evenly towards the edges, and it has a very nice ringing sound when tapped. As for tonewood it certainly doesn't go much better.
    The plate shows the status after step #7 in the list above was completed. Note that the rough channeling of the recurve was cut in one single direction all around - the up-milling led to some "coarse" patches where the wood fibres run in opposite direction.

    Vintage German Archtops-dscf5393a-original-roger-super-luxus-german-carve-spruce-top-jpg

    Vintage German Archtops-dscf5395b-jpg

    Vintage German Archtops-dscf5394a-jpg
    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 02-26-2021 at 03:54 PM.

  43. #192

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    Some additional notes:

    - The f-holes for the later Super are different from the f-holes for the Junior, Standard and Luxus models. They are routed out slightly larger to allow for a single layer of perloid binding. The Junior, Standard and Luxus models do not have bound f-holes.

    - here is the underside of a braced top:
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-23-inner-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-26-2021 at 04:51 PM.

  44. #193

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    Here are a couple of shots that show some details of the German carve on a finished guitar:
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-rogerluxus-carve1-jpg Vintage German Archtops-rogerluxus-carve2-jpg 

  45. #194

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    << The f-holes for the later Super are different from the f-holes for the Junior, Standard and Luxus models. They are routed out slightly larger to allow for a single layer of perloid binding. The Junior, Standard and Luxus models do not have bound f-holes. >>

    That's correct! An esthete would object: white perloid binding around the sound-holes would be ill-matched to the rest of non-perloid binding on the guitar!




    << Steps 8 and 9 above occur after the top is glued to the rims. >>

    Yep, at least, that's how it should be done, and certainly was done until the very last Roger period! I corrected the last numbers in the list above.
    The strange thing is: some of the left-over original plates (not-assembled) from the Roger production show the purfling and binding already glued in place!? No idea how they did that: maybe it relates to the latest models only with these nice-looking three stripes of "Adidas" (just kidding), i.e., the white-black-white, white-red-white or white-tortoise-white binding.

  46. #195

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret
    << The f-holes for the later Super are different from the f-holes for the Junior, Standard and Luxus models. They are routed out slightly larger to allow for a single layer of perloid binding. The Junior, Standard and Luxus models do not have bound f-holes. >>
    That's correct! An esthete would object: white perloid binding around the sound-holes would be ill-matched to the rest of non-perloid binding on the guitar!
    << Steps 8 and 9 above occur after the top is glued to the rims. >>
    Yep, at least, that's how it should be done, and certainly was done until the very last Roger period! I corrected the last numbers in the list above.
    The strange thing is: some of the left-over original plates (not-assembled) from the Roger production show the purfling and binding already glued in place!? No idea how they did that: maybe it relates to the latest models only with these nice-looking three stripes of "Adidas" (just kidding), i.e., the white-black-white, white-red-white or white-tortoise-white binding.
    Any pix of those plates? Very interesting! Maybe they were removed from bodies for some reason?

    Here's a decent shot comparing a bound Super f-hole (from a guitar body ready for finishing) with an unbound Jr./Standard/Luxus f-hole (from a rough-carved plate):
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-roger-2f-holes-lo-jpg 

  47. #196

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    Given the fact that the Roger machine cutting was done in the not_so_perfect 1950/60s, by employed woodworkers who weren't educated guitar or violin makers, the Roger tolerances for the guitar bodies comprises between 1 to 2mm. At least, this are about the tolerances when you measure the center thickness of some top plates - showing no noticeable dependence on the wood stiffness or weight, like it occurs in the violin world.

    So, the wood selection makes the first difference when it comes to the sound of Roger guitars. We know from reports by the tonewood dealer, where Wenzel acquired his woods in Mittenwald, how he was doing. Nevertheless, Wenzel himself, at least on occasion, must have selected the spruce and (the figure of) the maple for his Super models. Just compare the eveness, i.e., even widening of the spruce grain lines towards the edges.
    A second difference makes the precision of the cutting / routing procedure, and the third difference, IMO the most important one, was the careful elaboration of the channeling / recurve by the luthier.

  48. #197

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Any pix of those plates? Very interesting! Maybe they were removed from bodies for some reason?

    Here's a decent shot comparing a bound Super f-hole (from a guitar body ready for finishing) with an unbound Jr./Standard/Luxus f-hole (from a rough-carved plate):

    In this context my personal experience is just with unbound plates without tonebars, but I know (from our shared vendor) that Roger top plates with already glued-in binding and purfling must have existed.

  49. #198

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret
    Given the fact that the Roger machine cutting was done in the not_so_perfect 1950/60s, by employed woodworkers who weren't educated guitar or violin makers, the Roger tolerances for the guitar bodies comprises between 1 to 2mm. At least, this are about the tolerances when you measure the center thickness of some top plates - showing no noticeable dependence on the wood stiffness or weight, like it occurs in the violin world.
    So, the wood selection makes the first difference when it comes to the sound of Roger guitars. We know from reports by the tonewood dealer, where Wenzel acquired his woods in Mittenwald, how he was doing. Nevertheless, Wenzel himself, at least on occasion, must have selected the spruce and (the figure of) the maple for his Super models. Just compare the eveness, i.e., even widening of the spruce grain lines towards the edges.
    I've noticed some consistency in the choice of wood for the back plates on the Supers. I have always assumed that Wenzel bought fairly large boards with which to work, so that there is a high degree of similarity in the figuring among groups of instruments built within some reasonable timeframe. Here are two Super back plates probably from the same board (the colour difference is due to a layer of cigarette smoke that has yet to be removed from the one on the left - it's a fragrant instrument!):
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage German Archtops-super-backsx2_0431-jpg 

  50. #199

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    Lovely fiddle-back Roger Super woods, Hammertone! Yes, most, if not all Supers show flamed maple backs.



    << I have always assumed that Wenzel bought fairly large boards with which to work, so that there is a high degree of similarity in the figuring among groups of instruments built within some reasonable timeframe. <<

    Hm, not exactly.
    Question: What made the Schönbach stringed instrument makers so successful?
    Certainly their diligence and excellent instrument making education system, but also their tonewood sawmills and dealers, most of whom restarted a business in Bavaria, right after their expulsion from Bohemia in 1946.
    Only the most established animals in Schönbach, like Höfner or the producers' cooperative, were able to harvest, saw and process their own tonewoods, going through the lengthy procedure of stacking and air drying (nice: they called it "sun-bathing"). The rest, the often small scale, but excellent guitar makers, for example Franz Hirsch and his students, got their woods right from the dealers. If today a handful of archtop guitar makers ostentatiously cut down their own trees, split them in quarters or eights and stack them technically correct for at least 5 years - well, that's show conduct: even the master cello makers don't use split wedges anymore.


    Similar to Artur Lang in Garmisch, Wenzel Rossmeisl bought his tonewoods from the Fuchs Brothers in Mittenwald (expelled from Schönbach as well), one of the world-leading tonewood dealers in the 1950s and 1960s.
    The brothers reported that Artur Lang took his time, half a day or so, checking and tapping painstakingly many wood wedges before he left with a handful of them. By contrast, Wenzel arrived with his trailer, allegedly asked for the cheapest available woods, loaded the trailer, and left within a short time.
    Well, we know from the fine woods that Wenzel used, at least for his Super models in the Mittenwald / Neumarkt era, that the narrative by the Fuchs Bros. must have been a bit exaggerated, but you get the impression. Wenzel was an uncompromising businessman also, after all, he was able to market his Super models for the same price like Lang offered his Supers. I mean, most Roger Supers that I played are great guitars of their own, but not on a par with Lang's work - I've just to find any archtop guitars that are in the same street like Lang's 1960's models.

    Wenzel had been a pro banjo and guitar player in some famous Weimar Republic orchestras in Berlin, had a good time in the Golden 20s, owned a sailing boat on the Wannsee at a time when others suffered badly from the consequences of the Great Depression. He threw parties and was familiar with actors and actresses, the socalled high society. Even before WWII, Wenzel supplied the small German jazz guitar market with fine guitars under his Roger label (made by Franz Hirsch in Schönbach, the father of German archtop guitar making). He was an inventive guitar maker, plus an economical accomplished man - have a look, for example, in which way, and at which miserable time right after the war, he picked up the Markneukirchen workshop!
    Most other people in the biz were simply jealous of Wenzel's success, and thought him and his son Roger to be grandiloquent. Eventually and tragically, many years later, the victim of this long-going grudge was Wenzel's own son: nobody in the guitar making biz, not in Berlin nor in Bubenreuth, gave Roger Rossmeisl, considered an impressive guitar maker in the USA, then an American citizen, a new job after he had been returning to Germany ...


    We know that Lang - like some other master makers who kept a wary eye on their tonewood "treasure trove" - selected tonewoods with special care: the ancient "cathedral wood", the preparing and rough-cutting of the selected and assembled plate halves done only by his brother-in-law Otto Fuchs (not related to the Fuchs Bros. above), a guitar player himself and an enthusiast of all things related to archtop guitar making. Otto Fuchs, the brother of Lang's wife Adele, lived in Lang's house and apparently did a lot for them. In addition, Adele was a relative to the Kollitz folks, another tonewood dealer ... You see, when it comes to Lang, all worked hand in hand; it counts what Epi Stathopoulo stated in 1928: "Good musical instruments do not just happen".


    For any but the biggest West German guitar manufacturers it didn't make sense to buy "fairly large boards" because the folks of tonewood mills did all the rough job for them. The latter, for example, bought a figured maple tree they thought to be fine for tonewoods. In Germany, the whole process was - I think still is - standardized, at least, if it comes to state or local community forest owners (the most common case here): the dealers can inspect the respective tree while it is still upright, can make an official price proposal per cubic meter or for the whole trunk, and accordingly get the tree, or not. Good usable, figured sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) is practically long gone in the Bavarian Alps. I guess, at Wenzel's times, while few trees might have still transported from the French Alps and the Carpathians, most of them already originated from Bosnia.
    Today, the dealers have all branches in Bosnia that process the wood in place: the labor and transport cost are reduced.

    The Fuchs Bros. watered the tree until until it was ready to be opened up with their huge log band saw (tree diameters up to 2.70m). I talked to the successors / former employees of that company who still run the same old band saw beast - nice folks in the impressive Karwendel mountains (
    ToneWood-Impressions )! In the next step the cut wedges were stacked and air-dried in varying places for some years, and finally stored in the warehouse. So, when Wenzel popped up with his trailer, he certainly bought many boards with similar wood figure since they were often coming from the same tree.

    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 02-28-2021 at 12:06 PM.

  51. #200

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    I took the back off my guitar and I thought it might be interesting to post these.

    The back was already separating, and while it had been "fixed" I think there are better ways to fix it. And I have time with the eternal Covid lockdown here in Germany.

    That is decades worth of dirt and grime. I've since wiped away most of it.

    Vintage German Archtops-img_0502-jpegVintage German Archtops-img_0503-jpeg