German Luthiers

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

German Luthiers

Postby Langvarig » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:30 am

I have recently been in Berlin and found there is an exhibition about guitars at the musicinstrumentmuseum there. There is is a wonderful catalogue showing a lot of instruments by german luthiers. Wonderful.
There are several very famous historical German luthiers such as Hauser and Weissgerber and of course a lot of interesting luthiers of the day Hopf, Damm, Panhuyzen etc.

However I miss much more information about the traditions building classical guitars in Germany. There seem to have been a very strong tradition before second world war for instance in MarchneuKirchen (by the way there is a very nice museum there which recently precented a special exhibition on Weissgerber guitars).

I have two German guitars and I would like to hear if someone in this forum have any information about the luthiers.

The first is a MarchneuKirchen guitar. It's not very fancy and migth be from the days of DDR but it may be older. The label says:

Musikstadt Marchneukirchen. Meister Herman Schaller

The other is a better guitar from 1971 by Gitarrenbaumeister Dieter Hense.

Information about these two luthies would be appreciated as well as information and discussions on other German luthiers and the tradition of classical guitar in Germany.

Langvarig
Last edited by Langvarig on Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby GeoffB » Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:54 am

Hi Langvarig, welcome to the forum. Could I invite you to introduce yourself here?

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Re: German Luthiers

Postby simonm » Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:16 pm

Guitar making in Germany or maybe German speaking middle Europe would be more correct had a a number of focal points. Two major competitors were Schönbach (now in the Czech republic) and Marktneukirchen in "Sachsen" ex-East Germany. Then another group based around Vienna. No doubt there were other areas also - but these were the biggest. Somewhere in the Hessen region there was another group with some famous names but I don't know where the core was .

After WWII the "Sudeten Germans" became refugees with the result that the Schönbach music centre vanished and many of the people from that tradition settle in a new "instrument makers village" outside Nuremberg called Bubenreuth. GK Hannabach http://www.hannabach-instruments.de/ was one of the people who settled in the Bubenreuth area and became an apprentice to his fellow Schönbacher Arnold Hoyer and has had his own workshop since 1953.

I had the pleasure of chatting at length with the Hannabach's last year. Hannabach senior has actutally written a history of German guitar building but I don't know where it is available or where it was published. Post WWII The Buebenreuth area produced a lot of jazz guitars. Part of the reason was that instrument makers depended on the US military to help transport their belongings and materials from their old home to the new area and the deal were paid for in guitars - as jazz was popular, those along with cigarettes were the currency of the day as the German money was worthless. As a lot of the instrument makers were really violin and cello builders, carved top guitars were an easy transition. Hannabach is related to the Hannabach strings family - all sorts of family connections in the business. In the Frankfurt area the builders Brunswicker & Apelt are tow of the many builders who learned in that tradition.

Prior to WWII there was a lot of competition between Marktneukirchen and Schönbach and it may be that Marktneukirchen was more successful from a business perspecitive (not sure about this) and in fact bought in violins from Schönbach which they sold on as middle men. Today there is a museum in Marktneukirchen which I hope to visit at some point.

If I can track something more concrete down about and of the other traditions I will update.
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby peggysue » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:09 pm

Hello all!

Is this Hannabach the same one who makes the CC strings. If not are they related in any way?

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Re: German Luthiers

Postby Langvarig » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:47 pm

Hello Simonm
Thank you for pointing out the relation between the US military and the production of German Jazzguitars. Actually I can see from the Internet that Dieter Hense produced fine jazzguitars as well as classical concert guitars and lutes and vihuellas.

It would be nice if somebody knows where to find Hannabach seniors history of German guitarbuilding.

And please notice that there is this exhibition "Faszination Gitarre" at the Musikinstrumenten-Museum in Berlin. I running until the 30th of January 2011. And there is a very informative catalogue with pictures and information about mostly German guitars from the 19.th century until today including CG's by Hauser as well as recent CG's by Walter J. Vogt and jazzguitars and electrical guitars.
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby simonm » Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:41 pm

peggysue wrote:Hello all!

Is this Hannabach the same one who makes the CC strings. If not are they related in any way?

John


In my message above I mentioned that they are related. I believe that they cousins of some degree or other.
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby simonm » Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:52 pm

Langvarig wrote:Hello Simonm
Thank you for pointing out the relation between the US military and the production of German Jazzguitars. Actually I can see from the Internet that Dieter Hense produced fine jazzguitars as well as classical concert guitars and lutes and vihuellas.

It would be nice if somebody knows where to find Hannabach seniors history of German guitarbuilding.

And please notice that there is this exhibition "Faszination Gitarre" at the Musikinstrumenten-Museum in Berlin. I running until the 30th of January 2011. And there is a very informative catalogue with pictures and information about mostly German guitars from the 19.th century until today including CG's by Hauser as well as recent CG's by Walter J. Vogt and jazzguitars and electrical guitars.


I really enjoyed chatting to Mr Hannabach senior. He has a great sense of humour and great knowledge of the industry. Turns out he was conscripted into the Germany army late in WWII when he was 13 or 14 and was in an anti-aircraft batallion in Schweinfurt which is where my wife comes from. I have an aunt whose husband was a rear gunner on US bombers which bombed Schweinfurt. Strange connections! After the War Mr Hannabach bumped into his old neighbour Hoyer at a POW or perhaps slightly later (I have forgotton the details) and ended up as an apprenticeship.

The history is in German - I don't have any details about it but it did cross my mind to discuss translating it into English but in the end I didn't make that suggestion as I don't have the time.

The Germanishces National Museum in Nurnberg has a quite small collection of guitars and lutes (part of quite big collection of instuments) too.
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby Langvarig » Thu Nov 11, 2010 7:32 am

simonm wrote:I really enjoyed chatting to Mr Hannabach senior. He has a great sense of humour and great knowledge of the industry. Turns out he was conscripted into the Germany army late in WWII when he was 13 or 14 and was in an anti-aircraft batallion in Schweinfurt which is where my wife comes from. I have an aunt whose husband was a rear gunner on US bombers which bombed Schweinfurt. Strange connections! After the War Mr Hannabach bumped into his old neighbour Hoyer at a POW or perhaps slightly later (I have forgotton the details) and ended up as an apprenticeship.

The history is in German - I don't have any details about it but it did cross my mind to discuss translating it into English but in the end I didn't make that suggestion as I don't have the time.

The Germanishces National Museum in Nurnberg has a quite small collection of guitars and lutes (part of quite big collection of instuments) too.


Do you think it would be possible to contact Mr. Hannabach in order to get the manuscript for translation? I guess it might be done with the help of this forum? Of course I don't know about the quality of the manuscript, but I would expect Mr. Hannabach senior to be very knowledgeable. And even if it's more about the Hannabach story it would be worth sharing.
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby Julian » Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:47 am

One of the greatest German (probably the world) luthiers for classical guitars was Richard Jacob Weissgerber. He made a lot of modern innovative approach toward guitar building that makes Smallman lattice-braced guitars arenot something new. There was no marketing applied to Weissgerber guitars as much as present luthiers are applied to. So he wasnot as famous as Smallman for instance.

Then of course after Weissgerber, the more renowned Hauser family (most notably of Hauser 1 and 2).

Dieter Hense along with Dieter Hopf was also making excellent guitars that made Siegfired Behrend play a Dieter Hense. In the 80s and 90s, the newer and younger luthiers started to emerge the market that really put German guitar-making on the map i.e. Matthias Dammann, Gernot Wagner, Edmund Blochinger, Fritz Ober, Karl-Heinz Roemmich, Tobias Braun and many others with really fine and excelent guitars.

So there: Spain, Germany, UK and the US, the countries with more than handfull finest luthiers, not counting small number of other finest luthiers from The Netherland, Italy, France, Austria, Australia, Canada including Japan.

Perhaps the paragraph above should inspire someone out there to write a guidance or coffee-table book about classical guitar-making by country similar to the ones like Roy Courtnall. (Roy declined to write the book based on country as I suggested).

Anybody interested? I would think it may be about 7 to 10 series with about 400 pages per series, which may take up to 2-5 years for compiling and writing, and good money too...

Julian
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby Langvarig » Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:21 am

Thank you, Julian, for contributing with this information - I think your idea about a coffee-table book is very appealing, however I guess neither money nor market willingly supports that kind of project. (Any billionaires out there with a serious interest in CG?)

I am wondering if we in this forum could help each other with information about existing books on this topic.
I would like to mention the book "Danish guitars and their makers" by the danish luthier Kenneth Brögger. Presenting all major guitars and luthiers in Denmark up to the 1990's.

Anybody know of similar books?
Last edited by Langvarig on Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby Tedi » Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:21 pm

Of the guitars made by German luthiers, I have tried Karl Heinz Roemmich spruce top guitars. Not sure what school of guitar making he belongs, but these guitars were just great; delicate and beautiful sound.
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby Julian » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:15 am

Yes, Langvarig, Ken is one of the best luthiers as well. Shoud the book be really created, he can be part of 'Other country'. Brahman Kwok of Korea also makes awesome guitars, so is Sergio Abreu from Brazil. But perhaps these countries i.e. Denmark, Brazil, Korea, Argentina, Mexico etc donot have sufficient numbers of luthiers to make up into one book.

Another German luthiers who are making a fame is Gerhard Oldiges, Tobias Berg, Michel Bruck etc., although we shouldnot forget Sebastian Stenzel, and of course Hermann Hauser 3 and Kathrine Hauser.

Julian
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby TomS » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:29 am

Tobias Berg is Swedish but now builds in Germany.
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby pichy » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:10 am

I just recieved Gerhard Oldiges Hauser style and the guitar is very good. If you're considering German guitar, Oldiges should be interesting choice. :)
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Re: German Luthiers

Postby Tedi » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:41 am

pichy wrote:I just recieved Gerhard Oldiges Hauser style and the guitar is very good. If you're considering German guitar, Oldiges should be interesting choice. :)


Wow, pichy. Congratulations. You sure have played some great guitars.

Zibigniew Gnatek
Bernabe Concierto
Yuichi Imai
Antonio Marin Montero

And now Gerhard Oldiges. :mrgreen:
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