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  1. #51

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    Thanks very much for the pictures and information. My apologies for lumping my guitar in here with the one being restored which is undoubtedly a beautiful guitar and lovingly restored. I'm am the deepest green with envy.

    It's true , I might've taken more scientific guitar photographs, but I used ones I already had and one has a tendency to attempt to take attractive photographs of ones own instruments which inevitably involves angles.

    Certainly the first of your two pictures is pretty well identical to my guitar albeit with a darker sunburst , different tuning heads, no zero fret and perhaps the body shape is a little different.
    The neck/fretboard shape. headstock shape, fretboard and headstock markers, soundholes, bridge and tailpiece all appear identical. regarding body shape, my neck seems to be on an angle towards the bass side so it might skew my perspective.

    I don't know much about recent Chinese guitar manufacturing but the Japanese make very good guitars for the most part, easily rivalling the best anywhere. Their early archtops often featured a German type carve. I had a 74 AE-18 that had a very German looking arch.
    Last edited by What now?; 09-11-2019 at 12:34 AM.

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  3. #52

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    What now?, no need at all to apologize! It is commonly the case that any threads involving German vintage archtops get tangled - now you know why!
    And we all are green children, in one field or another. That's why it makes sense for humans to team up (not to trump down).


    In the abstract, it would make sense to simply ask the relatives of guitar companies or makers for some information relating these vintage guitars. After 1949, in Germany, most company records should still be available. Meanwhile, Höfner or Framus, for example, are well documented; Roger also, I hope (though some new insights still are not available on the internet). Höfner is said to be open to public inquiries.

    De facto, we asked descendants, but in not a few cases, even if they were already personally involved in the former guitar making biz of their fathers or grandfathers, the results were disappointing, sometimes even misleading. Oh, that human ego - or is it because the past has always a bit rosy ass?!

    So the long, hard and costly path had to be treaded, and I'm both happy and concerned as well to experience that now the work of Germany's undisputedly best archtop guitar maker, Artur Lang, is very well documented (what a task, HR!), though I'm afraid the public will get to know some basics only. Every reasonable man must doubt that it would make much sense to hand such research results and all the precise data, the intense work of about 20 years, on a silver plate to business men who are probably not able to differentiate, for instance, between guitars with a pressed and a carved solid top - or don't worry at all about such bothersome trifles.

    Nevertheless, if I were you, I'd try to contact the grandson of Franz Sandner and present owner of Fasan, Mr. Dietmar Schuh (Contact | Franz Sandner ), and ask for information (catalogs, pics, etc.) concerning your guitar. Myself, I wouldn't forget to ask Mr. Schuh as well, why he talks about the "Comeback of a Legend: Isana Black Pearl" (Guitars | Franz Sandner ), when we all know that Isana was a different company. Why don't they reissue another nice original Fasan archtop - just because the name Elvis sounds more sonorous, and the potential buyers hardly know the difference anyway? Simple name dropping and bold marketing behaviour? And, where, good heavens!, do they get the distinct self-esteem to have master Lang's archtops copied, especially at their current level of knowledge about Lang?

    After Lang's death in 1975, some copying attempts were performed, some by educated luthiers; original Lang plates were prerouted by the two men who did this for Lang for about two decades. I still own some plates (Theo Scharpach must have the bulk) that slowly are transformed into guitars. Btw., the recent Lang replica now for sale (Rittinger-Sandner-Lang, Edel-Kopie von 2018 | German Vintage Guitar ) wasn't made using original plates, nor was it reworked nor finished nor equipped with the new special wiring by HR. Ingenious: turn three little screws, and the complete two-humbucker-circuit is in your hands in a few seconds. Try the same with your L-5CES!
    Actually, the goal of that batch of three guitars was to outperform the two originals made in the mid 1960's. The
    fourth guitar was made a little different, though a bit more period-correct in terms of the old, originally used circuit, but, unfortunately, was converted by its owner into cash shortly after its birth. Something that HR will hardly forgive; I remember his friendly roasting years ago when I offered a Lang with a formerly invisible, tremendous neck hack repair for sale on Ebay (that he then bought and painstakingly repaired).
    Has the goal been achieved?
    No way, says HR, Lang remains the master; but if players claim the reproductions would sound as good as the originals, we like to accept the compliments. In the past, most copy-cats failed in several ways, and all Lang fans can only hope that no further watering down of Artur Lang's work will take place. In my opinion, they've already got close to this, in the moment when they applied for Lang's trademark, without having any connection to Lang and his guitars. Fasan, Isana, now Lang - sorry, guys, I wish you all the best for your projects, but to me it sounds like bombastic marketing so far!



    On a side note, just for fun, what exactly do you mean with "a German type carve" or "a very German looking arch"? The Roger German carve, a particular, defined assembly method, was copied almost exclusively by some former East German guitar companies, but not in West Germany. Not surprising, since Wenzel Rossmeisl ran his main workshop in Markneukirchen in the East, after the war, where the Soviets didn't care too much about property rights. Sometimes, Wenzel was not an easy man to deal with ... Otherwise, I don't know about a typical German carving or arching.

    In terms of the overall plate thickness, careful arching curves and carving graduation and the implementation of a nice recurve, some German archtop makers excelled with their products. The combination of stiffer, thicker plates with the just mentioned factors give the best possible archtop guitar qualities, both acoustically and electrified - to the astonishment of some.
    A general build quality on the heavier side, in combination with a floating pickup, is definitely something that in the US must attract mere incomprehension, but, if done right, all the advantages are there! Recently, IIRC, a poll as to that was done here - where some guys must got lost!

    And these guitar necks, all you freaks, are so important (stiffness, neck mode), not only for the individual playability (scale length, profile, width, thickness), but the more for the acoustic properties!
    Guitar necks have to be balanced soundwise to a particular archtop body; a good physically balanced guitar results from the overall design and construction quality! The outstanding archtop master makers tried to have a small bunch of completed guitar necks of which they selected the best matching one to a particular assembled body.
    An often forgotten pettiness: the electrified sound of an archtop can only be good, if the acoustic quality is already there. Otherwise, you'd have to fumble around the pickup, strings, amp, compressor, equalizer, to only hear far predominantly the electric 'pickup sound'. This forum is full of such tribulations, which I regard as a waste of good lifetime - ok, admittedly, sometimes it's also fun ... From a mere acoustic point of view, IMO, such players should feel more easygoing by picking a solid body guitar.



    << I've done some work on it. It now has a solid ebony repro bridge(no fret saddles) and sounds much better as a result. >>

    Can't see exactly what you did to the bridge. How does an ebony bridge without fret wire saddles sound much better to you? I talked somewhere in this forum about the tricky points when setting up these ebony bridges made by the Teller Company, and you have to take care and time of these darned small wire saddles! If done well, and in addition weight-reduced, IMO, these bridges offer the best possible compromise between a conventional ebony bridge and a Tunomatic.
    The combination of a zero fret, the frets on our fretboard, and these wire saddles, all made of the same nickel silver or SS, can make the sound more pure, clear and balanced than any other material mix can do, like bone or polyacetal POM (some call it 'Tusq', or whatever, and make a nice profit out of secret-mongering - hello, dear customers, wake up finally!) for the nut, the fret wire and a wooden saddle, ebony, or whatever you may use.
    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 09-11-2019 at 01:02 PM.

  4. #53

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    Well, I have trained as a luthier for a year and worked at a local acoustic guitar factory (Larrivee) for a while as well.
    I build bridges for all my archtops generally, mostly one piece designs with bone saddles as my luthier teacher claimed a one-piece bridge sounded better and for many of my guitars that has been the case).I have a fair amount of experience building archtop bridges. Also I play professionally. Myself I would never use a tune-a-matic bridge on an archtop with acoustic properties (even a plywood one). I can understand the ease of adjusting intonation but to me there are too many moving parts. I understand about zero frets etc, Many of my guitars have them. I found the original Fasan bridge very easy to set up, it was quite simple and I liked the design, however I was curious.

    On the 'Fasan' I used the original bridge for a couple years but decided I was curious as to what a bridge without risers and little fret saddles sounded like. So I made a new compensated ebony top to the bridge that sat directly on the original base and it sounded louder and fuller with more of a natural acoustic tone. I even did back to back recordings to make sure I had a more objective viewpoint. To me it sounded better and fundamentally, regardless of internet opinion, and the builders original intention, as it's my guitar, that's all that matters.
    So built a lightly wider footed base for it and it is one the guitar now.
    I kept the original bridge of course

    Interestingly about 10 minutes away from me there is an older instrument repair fellow(Turkish I think) and he has a lovely blonde very unique looking Arthur Lang Acoustic archtop sitting in case with the strings loose, kept I believe as kind of investment, (It probably came to him through a client) He doesn't play it. It just sits there in his basement. To me this is far sadder than seeing an instrument played, altered , and abused. A fine instrument should be played and given life, it should never be an inert museum piece unless it is physically no longer possible for it to be played.

    Are you using a translator program? Just so you know there are some dubious translations. Like "all you freaks' which whilst it's funny sounding, is actually kind of insulting, which I imagine is likely not your intent.
    Last edited by What now?; 09-11-2019 at 02:49 PM.

  5. #54

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    Wow, now it's my turn to get green with envy! I just wonder why so many experienced folks still like to know something about their guitar or the origin of their guitar. A good guitar is a good guitar, no matter where or when or by whom is was made. The most boring and frequent two questions, at least in the context of German vintage guitars, are: 1. what do I have? 2. what is it worth? Two simple questions, the explaining is often troublesome. You'll know that, unlike in North America, no more or less generally accepted price lists for such vintage guitars exist.

    Larrivee guitars have a good reputation here in Germany. Jean's teacher Edgar Mönch was known to be a superb guitar maker and teacher, a combination that is rarely found. A short bio of Mönch (see below), IMO, would be appropriate.


    As a former violin player and still violin-influenced guitar guy (definitely a freak myself… ) I like the idea of a light-weight, one piece bridge. I fully agree that opinions on the web are often worthless, including my own: if someone claims that this or that guitar or bridge construction would sound best to his ears, then there is nothing to shake it. "Keep on following your own individual ears" may sound like good advice, but is somehow weird in times of mass production, cost cutting, outsourcing, leveling down and, sometimes, social herd stupidity.

    After the war, so many fine musical instruments were exported from Europe to North America, just to sit in the basements or breathe life in a school band. No longer shocked here …


    A special thank for addressing my dubious English, especially the phraseologism! No arguing about this fact, so I apologize for that term! Translators are hardly useful in my eyes. I had my last stay in North America around 1981, and no more visit will follow. I do remember well that I brought Frank Zappa's record 'Freak Out' with me, then.
    In Germany, we hardly talk in English, our old Kraut, Goethe and Schiller language seems to be sufficient enough for us.
    Germans never were, and nowhere are, supporters of 'political correctness'. Most of us detest just put-on friendliness and politeness which aren't ever meant open and honest, or just beating around the bush - this has nothing to do with being offensive or insulting!
    We are aware that, in anglophone eyes and ears, our frankness can be bête noire. That's only one reason why so few Germans actually contribute to this (I think originally Belgium-based) forum, and other social internet platforms.

    Sometimes, I ask complaining native English speakers to speak their language, while I talk away in High German, two German idioms or French or Italian, or whatever language I think I could be understood to some extent. Unfortunately, more often than not, the conversation is finished then.


    Finally, here Edgar Mönch's short bio for those interested who never heard his name:

    The guitar builder Edgar Mönch, born in Leipzig on 10-29-1907, descended from a family of musicians. His Russian mother was a pianist, and his father a violinist and Kapellmeister. He spent his childhood in Russia, attended school there and afterwards studied engineering at the Technical University of Danzig (today: Gdansk, Poland). He then worked as a technical interpreter at the Skoda plant in Prague and studied violin at the local conservatory. He got into guitar making in an English war camp where he met a violin maker from Breslau (today: Wroclaw, Poland) who showed him how to build a guitar.
    From 1947 up to his death he worked as a guitar maker. He brought his knowledge to perfection via studies with the befriended guitar maker Marcelo Barbero in Madrid, Spain. Edgar Mönch’s manual skilfulness and his perfectionism brought him global appreciation. He was fanatic in his work and self-critical as can be rarely seen; a Stradivari of guitar making. He eagerly gave his knowledge forward to his students, and some very good guitar builders such as Jean Larrivée, Kolya Panhuyzen, Ken Bowen and Joseph Kurek came out of his workshop. Edgar Mönch died on 02-16-1977.
    Andres Segovia, Julian Bream, John Williams, Vincente Gomez and many more guitar players around the world played and play a Mönch guitar.

  6. #55

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    As I said I thought the freaks thing was funny, but I usually like things like that.
    To be fair when I worked at Larrivee it was basically a factory with roughly 100 people all doing a particular small part of the guitar. I helped them move to that facility which has now closed as they moved to the USA from Vancouver BC Canada. We had to move 9 Elephant tusks which Jean must have acquired long long ago and probably can't do anything with now.

    Jean was good boss and a funny guy. He used to paint the lower end 03 models (they had a matt finish) himself. He would go to the Astoria pub next door and drink with buddies and than come in half drunk saying "I'm a painter! I paint for a living" My job at that time was to glue the bridges on and inspect the finishes. After Jean had a few drinks the finishes would be all full of runs and drips and I would have to send them back for resprays. Then he would come up and say "Why are you sending all the guitars I painted back?" He was the %$&^$ boss!! I would just say "Look at them" and he let it go at that as he was quite reasonable.
    Very funny, Lot's of funny stories from that time but it was very much a factory rather than a collection of luthiers making individual guitars. I did acquire a nice 12-string which was the first guitar I "launched" off the 3 hp buffing wheels as I was training to be a buffer of the high end models.

    I wouldn't complain about anyone's English especially if it is a 2nd language as I have only a smattering of other languages myself.
    Last edited by What now?; 09-12-2019 at 12:30 AM.

  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret View Post
    I had my last stay in North America around 1981, and no more visit will follow.
    But I have a pile of American and German acoustic archtop guitars here, waiting for you to play them!
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  8. #57

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    I have some German friends and I can safely say they are never afraid to share their opinions on what they're sure is best for you.

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    But I have a pile of American and German acoustic archtop guitars here, waiting for you to play them!

    Thanks, Hammertone, I didn't forget it!
    Sometimes, there's too much playing, tale, sound and abominable noise (like jazz) in life. I think that must be why Thelonious Monk said: "The best sound in universe is silence."

    It's just that after rereading some Shakespeare lines I've started shifting more and more projects into my next life. I'm sure we'll have a great meeting there.

    Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time.
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.




    PS: Something new on the frontline about your Markneukirchen-ish looking guitar above?

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by What now? View Post
    I have some German friends and I can safely say they are never afraid to share their opinions on what they're sure is best for you.
    For heaven's sake! I'd start immediately to get rid of German friends - they all lead to the downfall!
    Germans even stare at strangers on the street corner, if they look funny or move strangely.

    Yes, Germans are extremely opinionated due to severe collectice traumata we have suffered in the last 150 years. Psychologists call it a collective PTSD.
    We have to observe other people, in any case everything, in a pathological manner, only to prevent these often completely unsuspecting people, who historically can not have the wealth of experience of the Germans, from treading the wrong path, harming themselves or even others, and leading entire nations or guitar companies to downfall.
    In a nutshell: personal freedom ends faster for Germans where it only begins for others - with a few exceptions, like our daily personal war on the highways, one result of our collectively suppressed egos, proves.

    Everything fine here. I hope you're fine too, What now?
    Wait a moment - what about that term, what about that term … ah, yes: that was something in the wake of spiritual abuse (https://whatnow727.wordpress.com/2019/01/27/what-now-blog-has-moved/ ).
    Drugs, like alcohol, can also lead to spiritual abuse. Poor Jean Larrivee!

  11. #60

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    OT:
    Places, like this forum, with infinite individual opinions whether


    a particular guitar (pickup, amp, etc.) model sounds great, or not,
    a particular German vintage guitar was made in this or that workshop,
    a particular improvisation method is superior to others, or not,
    it's desirable to be opinionated at all,
    must inevitably lead to relativism.

    One of the relativism pioneers was Protagoras. His relativism is based on one of his most famous statements: Man is the measure of all things: of the things that are, that they are, of the things that are not, that they are not.
    By this, Protagoras meant that each individual is the measure of how things are perceived by that individual. Therefore, things are, or are not, true according to how the individual perceives them. For example, Person X may believe that a particular guitar sounds great, whereas Person Y may believe that this guitar sounds bad. According to the philosophy of Protagoras, there is no absolute evaluation of the nature of a guitar because the evaluation will be relative to who is perceiving it. Therefore, to Person X, the guitar is great, whereas to Person Y, the guitar is bad. This philosophy implies that there are no absolute "truths". The truth, according to Protagoras, is relative, and differs according to each individual.

    In this sense, most that we express here is nothing but goose chatter, or, at best, a social sign of life: I chat, therefore I am. Good to stop now and then, and remember that there could be something in relativism!





  12. #61

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    Hi guys,

    I think I am actually able to confirm that those guitars attributed to Fasan are indeed made by Fasan. Why? Simply cause I got one of those - having Fasan engraved on its tailpiece:

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_5784-jpg

    Ok - its not only that. Since I saw the first of this breed pictured (I think the Antoria on Schlaggitarren.de) I tried to track down who made them. It soon became evident they were made in Nauheim and not in Bubenreuth. But it took a while and gathering loads of pics of Fasan guitars to be pretty sure they are Fasan made. The one I bought last year was just a confirmation for that theory.
    Which story does the guitar tell itself? Absolutely gorgeous instrument. Made by a master luthier! Definitely not assembled by using bought-in parts or something like that. Quite individual in every aspect. Super light and very resonant. Ol´Fret, please do not listen here: I won´t trade this one for a Lang!

    Hammertone came up with the idea of a copy of the Tellson No 14 model. No way. It happened that I bought a Tellson No 14 the same year: place them next to each other, compare the design, play them, listen: quite different stories!

    What they have in common though: both from relatively small makers which sold most of their output without their name on it, both made only a very small number of the mentioned high end models and both used for the top of the line guitars a small body. Worth to mention as most makers followed the scheme: bigger = better. Teller and Sandner proved: small guitars could be great instruments - if well crafted.

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_5763-jpg Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_5777-jpg Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_5780-jpg

  13. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by alteklampfe View Post
    Hammertone came up with the idea of a copy of the Tellson No 14 model. No way. It happened that I bought a Tellson No 14 the same year: place them next to each other, compare the design, play them, listen: quite different stories!
    That was a bit of a joke. I think the more exaggerated f-holes typically found on Fasans are always a giveaway, compared to those found on Tellsons. One could just as easily suggest that the Tellson is a copy of the Fasan. The point is really that there are profound similarities between the work of various guitar-makers in post-war Germany. Anyway, please post more pix of your Fasan!

    Regarding the acoustic qualities of these guitars, that's a bit harder to parse from a photograph - I can only comment specifially on guitars I have played, generalize about those with which I have a reasonable degree of experience, and say nothing useful at all about the rest.
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    The point is really that there are profound similarities between the work of various guitar-makers in post-war Germany. Anyway, please post more pix of your Fasan!
    Agree.

    Pics of the head after the golden Schallers from the 80ies were removed. Although they worked nicely these were so heavy that they skipped the balance of the whole instrument to the head´s side as the body is unusual lightweight! Now this is much better with new Rubner machines and it looks better and matches the style better too:

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_8066-jpg

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_8070-jpg

    BTW: does anybody need a set of golden Schallers?

    Coming back to that topic of the (in-)famous "German Carve" - I agree with what Ol´Fret wrote above. There is little understanding and you will find it so many times wrongly attributed in the net. Looking at the Fasan:

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_8071-jpgHelp idenitfying German Archtop-img_8072-jpg

    A considerably high arch (smells like a violin maker did that) and zero recurve on the top and just a very slight one on the back. Is something missing here? No - at least not soundwise. What is the recurve for? To thin the plates around the perimeter to reach the desired flexibility. But this could be done as well on the inside. This seems to be more a matter of style / taste / whatever of the individual luthier. The absence or presence of a recurve is not a sign of quality by itself. Its the gradation of the top thickness which makes the difference. Most of the top instruments have that - although there are instruments out there with even plate thickness and sounding great. Almost impossible to apply a general rule here as so many aspects factor in (wood quality, overall thickness, height of arch, bracing etc).

    Interesting to learn that the early German archtops from the late 30ies do not have a recurve at all. I own a couple of them and can assure that they have their voice! I am saying this to so many folks starring at guitar pics on the net and developing theories how this or that will or should sound. This leads nowhere. With either building style one can build crap or great instruments. (strictly talking of solid, carved instruments here).

  15. #64

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    Your input and experience are greatly appreciated, alteklampfe! A nice guitar! Fasan vintage guitars are not so much under my radar, yet, let's have a friendly dispute to bring the knowledge level a bit forth …

    I agree in many points. However, while these Fasan attributed fully carved guitars very likely were made in the Fasan workshop - at least, distributed by them - , I can't agree off-handedly that all essential parts of these high-ends, like bodies and necks, were manufactured there.

    The 'Fasan' nicely engraved tailpiece was made by ABM. It doesn't prove that the entire guitar must necessarily have been made by Fasan as well.
    A similar tail in my stock engraved "Sonderklasse" (special or extra class) was once distributed by the Isana workshop:

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-dscf4474a-jpg

    Fully agreed that a bigger guitar doesn't necessarily mean a better guitar; it's rather: a bigger and acoustically good sounding archtop is harder to manufacture, much harder I'd say. While 16" carved archtops, especially the light-weight ones, often show a better attack, higher volume and cutting through, the larger boxes can deliver a different, wider frequency response not availabe on smaller boxes for physical reasons. Naturally, large guitars can hardly be light-weight guitars, but, if constructed by a master maker, they must not end in smooth and mellow "silent giants", driven mainly by pickup later - they too can show a lot of projection and power; the best ones excel in almost all qualities. Another oustanding sign of extraordinary 17"+ archtops, IMO, is the emission of an even tone balance throughout the entire range, bass, mid-range and treble.

    About 10 years ago, we had some discussions about specific features that a gourgeous acoustic archtpo should have, or not have. Well, I'm afraid not much has changed in the meantime. It has always been more than ok for me, if people were claiming that they love above all the tone and properties of this or that guitar, banjo or even cigar box. No problem here, at all!
    However, it's not easy to accept people claiming that a guitar has generally to be as light-weight as possible, etcetc., to be fully resonant, etcetc., if you get to know on inquiry that they know next to nothing about archtop guitar and violin making, or they mix things and differences up like crazy, or are not willing or able to define their personal goals and preferred musical genres, in respect to these instruments. Horses for courses.

    So, if I were you, I'd get this guitar above, some original Schönbach axes, or a bunch of other guitars you like best, into your car trunk, and ask HR, usually an utterly relaxed, patient and friendly host, for a meeting. It's almost guaranteed though that no one of his guitar guests will ever be able to remain unimpressed …



    If I look at the pics of your Fasan, alteklampfe, I bet it has approximately the same body and finish (btw. great photos and excellent illumination, as always - do you edit some colors?), i.e. origin as my fully carved 'Juwel', which is something like a second line high-end archtop made by Isana. Data are as important as pics: the guitar's body length is 52,3cm; the wideness of the lower bout is 41,2cm (16.2"). Your Fasan flagship shows more embellishment, more purfling/binding, more neck laminations, more engraving on the tailpiece, a bit fancier bridge.
    Juwel pics follow (sorry for the coming boring posts - for some reason I'm just able to embed one pic per post on this machine right now!):


    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 09-18-2019 at 04:04 PM.

  16. #65

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    Juwel 16.2", fully carved:

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-dscf4463-4462a-jpg

  17. #66

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    Et seqq.

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-dscf4467-4468a-jpg

  18. #67

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    Et seqq.

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-dscf4469-4465a-jpg

  19. #68

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    Et seqq.

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-dscf4470-4466a-jpg

  20. #69

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    << A considerably high arch (smells like a violin maker did that) and zero recurve on the top and just a very slight one on the back. Is something missing here? No - at least not soundwise. What is the recurve for? To thin the plates around the perimeter to reach the desired flexibility. But this could be done as well on the inside. This seems to be more a matter of style / taste / whatever of the individual luthier. The absence or presence of a recurve is not a sign of quality by itself. Its the gradation
    of the top thickness which makes the difference. Most of the top instruments have that - although there are instruments out there with even plate thickness and sounding great. Almost impossible to apply a general rule here as so many aspects factor in (wood quality, overall thickness, height of arch, bracing etc).
    Interesting to learn that the early German archtops from the late 30ies do not have a recurve at all. I own a couple of them and can assure that they have their voice! I am saying this to so many folks starring at guitar pics on the net and developing theories how this or that will or should sound. This leads nowhere. With either building style one can build crap or great instruments. (strictly talking of solid, carved instruments here). >>


    Violin makers, some guitar makers as well, could tell a lot about higher or lower archs of the tops, and it's not about theories, but century-old empirical-practical knowledge for the benefit of the players.
    There are some general and basic rules, even if these are not cast in stone. Amati and Stainer, the earlier masters, for example, implemented higher archs, which generally - all other things unchanged! - lead to a sweeter, though quieter and less projecting sound. Stradivari made both forms, while Guarneri is one representative for flatter archs, resulting in more projection and volume, and a darker sound (think of the German carve guitars).
    So, choose whatever floats your boat, but you have to define your style and goals in the first place!

    For the sound of any carved archtop instruments, the plate thickness, graduation, and the arching curves could be the most important single factors, followed by the recurve. Btw., it's not accurate to say that the Fasan above has "zero recurve on the top". Its recurve on the top may follow a relatively smooth and wide recurve, but it is definitely there! Here a pic of my Juwel, and how you can measure it with a straight edge; the wide recurve (one drawback: more body volume is lost) is quite respectable 3.5mm deep at the max. lower bout:

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-dscf4475a-recurve-depth-3-5mm-measured-max-lower-bout-jpg


    No problem to implement a recurve on the inside of the plate, though this is hardly done in practice because it's more difficult to achieve and control (you are working near the edge where the plate has to be glued to the sides and the lining). More than one hundred years ago, some violin makers just did a small cut of about one millimeter depth on the inside of their violin tops - functionally, this worked like a recurve, but the technique didn't prevail, probably due to increased split tendency of the spruce!

    And, please, don't tell us that a pressed solid top would have a recurve on the inside … ! For pressing solid wood you have to take plates of uniform thickness throughout the whole plate. Sure, after the pressing a luthier could simulate a recurve at the edges with the finger planes or a router. But this would make no sense, since pressed plates are used to speed up and cost cut the making procedure, not to complicate it.

    A uniformly even plate thickness can sound great, otherwise most classical and folk guitar players would be totally misleaded. However, if your goal is to get a maximal combination of acoustic volume (heavier steel strings), projection and dynamics with clear trebles, you have to use arched, graduated and recurved plates. A banjo, an example on the extreme side, has a flat and light-weight "top", great volume and attack, but the projection, related to the distance of the listener, is quite poor, as well as the clear voice gets soon washed out at higher volumes and dynamics, when the "mudding" starts, and tone separation is bad anyway (when a plucked Instrument, featuring a thin and light top, is plucked harder, a micro-twisting of the top occurs with the consequence that the many individual vibrational modes get disturbed mutually).

    These things, in my experience, can't be spread on a web forum, they are given to the student by some master; some could learn it autodidactically. If a set of facts is not as obvious or simple or standardized as some do wish, or not served on a silver plate, it doesn't mean that the facts and issues don't exist (hey, welcome back in times, when political parties and nations advocate simplifying, subcomplex leaders and solutions!).


    Coming back to Fasan and Isana: at least, the neck of my Juwel was Isana made.
    See it from a psychological and economical POV as well: Franz Sandner was born in 1903, Josef Sandner (Isana) in 1924! It is more than thinkable that Isana delivered parts to Fasan. Similar things happened between Alfred Schaufuss (Aschado) and Herbert Todt, and others.
    The older vintage Fasan guitars (tell-tale signs: the symmetrical 'paddle' headstock and an extremly small fretboard radius < 7"!) are relatively easy to recognize. Not being a specialist of these two brands, I think I've seen some pics of guitars that give the impression they could have been made of mixed parts.

    In 2009 Stephan Lob wrote on schlaggitarren.de: "Meine Meinung, bei den Fasan-Gitarren fällt auf, dass sie oft in erheblichem Umfang, aus Bauteilen anderer bekannter Hersteller bestehen." [It's striking, IMO, that Fasan guitars often, to a considerable content, consist of components of other well-known manufacturers.].
    Nothing to add.

    And the nice Fasan on
    http://www.schlaggitarren.de/home.php?text=diverses&kenn=15 was definitely assembled by using a Höfner Committee body and a Höfner 470 neck. The original Höfner logo on the headstock was cut out and replaced by a "special" fitting Fasan logo, then a different hardware added. The former players of that instrument have probably not noticed the fraud (in German: Etikettenschwindel) for a long time.
    I can only hope that the present Fasan owner doesn't plan to do a similar fallacious labeling in the future. They say the apple never falls far from the tree.


    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 09-18-2019 at 03:23 PM.

  21. #70

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    I thought after this comparison was mentioned above I post some pictures of a natural colored Oskar Teller made Tellson No. 14 and a Fasan (made or distributed or whatever) top of the line model. May help identifying German Archtops. Indeed they look quite close on first sight - a closer look reveals some distinctive differences. Starting with the body size: Fasan: 405 mm wide, Tellson 420 mm (actually hard to tell by pictures), shape of the cutaway, transition of cutaway at heel area, shape of the head, shape of the neck, arching of the plates etc. etc. Last but not least they sound quite different: the Fasan very open, brilliant, the Tellson more mellow and round. But with having only one sample from each it is impossible to say if this typical for this make / model or more random.

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_8126-jpg

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_8127-jpg

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_8129-jpg

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-img_8130-jpg

  22. #71

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    Your Fasan appears to identical to mine (one of the first I've seen) yet with a couple more layers of top and F-hole binding, a much fancier tailpiece, and an extra rectangular mother of pearly fretboard marker. Mine is solid carved instrument and is a remarkable instrument acoustically. I have a few other really nice acoustic guitars and I would say it easily holds it's own with them, albeit different.

  23. #72

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    Hi What now?,

    "
    Your Fasan appears to identical to mine" Therefore it would be a nice thing if you could post body measurements for comparison (width lower bout, upper bout, waist, height of rim, body length)

    Could you add a photo of the heel / cutaway transition as my last one? What kind of wood is used for the neck? On mine the outer part is mahogany; rarely used on German achtops of this period.

  24. #73

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    I should start off by saying my 'fasan' has a round sound hole as well like your telson
    Also there is a definite 'recurve' to the top edge.

    I find the term funny in a guitar context as I make traditional wooden bows(archery) and have made a few steam bent 'recurves')
    However it makes sense.

    You'll notice that my picture of the cutaway looks remarkably similar to yours right down to the reflection of the man taking the photograph...

    Back is quilted flame maple - One piece
    Sides - flame maple
    top-spruce
    neck is 5 piece
    centerstrip -mahogany
    maple on either side
    I'm not entirely sure about the outer pieces.they have grain strangely like oak

    Bridge is a reproduction ebony one I built to eliminate the little fret strip saddle and the risers.
    greatly improved the volume and sound of the guitar.

    Dimensions:
    Lower bout - 405mm
    Waist - 252
    Upper bout - 300
    Body length - 516 (approx. my measuring tape is a bit crinkled)
    Depths of sides (height of rim?) - 80mm







  25. #74

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    Hi What now?,

    Your feedback is very much appreciated!

    A few comments from my side:

    "
    You'll notice that my picture of the cutaway looks remarkably similar to yours right down to the reflection of the man taking the photograph..." Indeed! Couldn´t be more similiar.

    "Back is quilted flame maple - One piece" Not exactly - its laminated - its only a one piece veneer. It´s not only less binding and bling what makes your instrument a somewhat simpler model.

    "
    maple on either side I'm not entirely sure about the outer pieces.they have grain strangely like oak" Looks like beech - very common for necks for 50ies German made archtops.

    Dimensions: pretty close. Width the same down to the mmilimeter. Length of mine 2 mm more and sides (rims): 84 mm.

    One thing which is a bit different is the "volute" - transition of neck to head. Compare with my picture above. The neck profile on yours looks more like a fat
    "C" - whereas mine has more a "D". Would support the theory that somebody else carved the neck contour. Goes together with Ol`Frets lengthy explanations that you never know who supplied what: same person / workshop or different sources. In this context: what is the width of the neck at 0-fret and 12th fret? On mine: 43.5 & 49.3 mm.
    Is the radius of the fretboard small or more contemporary?

    all the best






  26. #75

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    Ahh you're German too!

    I guess the back could be a laminate, the sides look solid, matching flame pattern in and out, check in several places. The top is definitely carved, looks it from the inside and sounds it . I have several older laminate full sized archtop electrics as well as one solid top electric and the difference acoustically is very obvious between them. The plywood guitars sound good but the solid top guitar sounds excellent. Initially I didn't find this guitar really attractive, though I liked how unique it looked. I bought it because of how lovely it sounded. nice ring and sustain and a LOT of projection.

    I would say my neck is more of a thick D shape with a bit of a flat spot on the back of the neck. it is very comfortable and easy to play despite it's size. it could have a bit of a 'C' because the neck with is about .25mm wider than the fretboard width but this could be the binding too. At the 5th fret my neck is about 29mm thick!

    0 fret- 42.28
    12th fret - 53.45

  27. #76

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    "the sides look solid" - of course they are. Solid wood is much easier to bend than plywood / laminated and used throughout this period.

    "I would say my neck is more of a thick D shape with a bit of a flat spot on the back of the neck" Ok - just like mine

    "0 fret- 42.28 - 12th fret - 53.45" ah ok - so your neck has the more common taper whereas mine is more of that narrow type. (I see: you own a digital calliper too!).

    So: basically the same guitar with the usual variations to be expected from a German maker of that time.

  28. #77

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    Usually one sees archtops being all plywood or not. I have limited axperiece with German archtops, though I have had a Hofner at one point. It was all ply but had a clever spruce laminate on both sides of the top making it appear solid, as Gretsch did too with there 'spruce top' electric and some acoustic guitars(I have a 55 convertible and a 52 Electro look that look convincingly spruce but are both laminate.) However I recently acquired a taylor GS-mini(flattop) and it's solid top, ply back and sides and sounds very nice for what it is.

    I like the more conventional neck shape so that works for me. I find some Hofners, and strangely some Silvertones that have the neck that barely widens to be too narrow up near the body.

    The digital calipers were dirt cheap and are extremely useful

  29. #78

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    "Usually one sees archtops being all plywood or not" Does not count for the German archtops of the 50ies & 60ies. Solid tops combined with a laminated back was a very common thing - except for the very early years when the machines for pressing plates were not yet available and they needed to do everything by hand. From the early 60ies on I would guess that the production of all solid instruments declined considerately and by far most guitars where made all laminated or combining pressed solid plates with laminated backs. Good samples for the latter is the Hoyer model No. 19 "Esquire" or the (Glassl made) Hopf model No. 319. Sides were still solid for technical reasons.

    And the thing is: the catalogues are mostly anything but clear what is used in the construction. If the material is not mentioned at all you can be sure its plywood. Only if it explicitly states "massive Fichtendecke" (Hopf No. 317E; solid spruce, most likey pressed) or "gute Tonfichtendecke, ausgearbeitete Wölbung" (
    Hopf No. 317 S; solid spruce top, carved) it is solid - back plywood in both cases. So as a sample: the Hopf catalogue of the early 60ies lists 4 models with solid tops / laminated back, 5 models all laminated and 3 all solid models. The latter being super scarce and productions figures have been super low of these.
    And even more confusing: actual instruments are sometimes not consistently build to catalogue specs! Carved top is repaced by a pressed top or even with plywood - nicely made with spruce veneer (again: Hopf No. 319 is a good sample for this)

    Under the bottom line: the construction of your Fasan is anything but rare.

    Another point is that so many instruments offered now on ebay and elsewhere are wrongly described. Too often it says solid wood when the grain pattern and the non-existence of a center seam shouts: I am plywood!



  30. #79

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    "Usually one sees archtops being all plywood or not" Does not count for the German archtops of the 50ies & 60ies. Solid tops combined with a laminated back was a very common thing

    Yes, well as I said my experience with german archtops and the bizarre and dubious quirks of their construction, being Canadian and living here for the past 52 years, is limited. I am speaking from the older archtops I have familiarity with, which is all anyone can do.

    I have a luthier background and am well aware of guitar construction in general and all the ways wood is misnamed etc. in guitar marketing, but I will say I have never encountered an archtop with JUST a laminated back. And I have owned and repaired a fair amount. I play them professionally.


    "Under the bottom line: the construction of your Fasan is anything but rare."

    Don't worry, I won't dare think my guitar is special, rare, or well built, or anything really.

    I will enjoy it though, regardless of pedigree or internet opinion.

    In fact I will probably use it at a rehearsal I have today.

    Thank you for all your exceedingly informative replies, I was just trying to share the information with you that you requested.
    Last edited by What now?; 09-29-2019 at 02:25 PM.

  31. #80

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    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing the photos & the info - very much apprechiated!

    "anything but rare" was not meant in regard of a possible value, qualities as a musical instrument etc. Just wanted to point out that the above described construction scheme was very widely used among those builders - what was obviously not expected from your side.

    Apart from that: these Fasans are in fact super rare. The few I spotted all look a bit different - all of them more one offs than a regular production. And we both agree that they are worth to keep due to their nice sound.

    So: the bottom line should much better run: fellows, keep your eyes peeled for those!

  32. #81

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    " keep your eyes peeled for those" - and here is a similiar one offered in the UK:

    Vintage Unbranded Archtop Guitar Project Spares or Repairs Melodija Musima ? | eBay

    Although beeing in a sad condition one picture shows nicely the lamination of the back plate:

    Help idenitfying German Archtop-fasan_back-lamination-jpg

    The top looks solid to me (see the small cracks next to the waist)
    It´s really a pitty that guitars are sold in parts. The tailpiece offered too belongs for sure to this guitar. Fasan was so only West German maker who used engraved tailpieces on a regular basis (as far as I know)

    This will a rewarding project for somebody who is able to fix it.(no affiliation to the seller)