After recognizing a guitar as a westgerman , the first detail that I personally look for is the shape of holes. Holes are almost like signatures and just by looking at the shape of the holes you can often narrow the possible number of makers down to a few. Maybe even nail them exactly…after the holes there are many more details, like bodyshape, volutes, heels, shape of neckextension, decoration, shape of head etc etc..
So… first its :
Lets start with some Unique shaped soundholes that will tell the maker right away :
This left hole is from W. Hüttl. Noone else made them !! and he only made them on the Opus models…The right one is from Rodebald Hoyer and noone else made these either.
This hole is actually very old, but on jazzguitars I have only seen it on Höfner 461( thanks Martin K )
F – holes ( Violin holes )
F-holes are the most common. There are MANY of them and they vary a lot and it can be difficult to distinguish between them.
F – holes with horizontal oval endings :
Upper left is Fasan, upper right is Tellson and below is Rodebald Hoyer. Fasan and Tellson are very close and its not easy to distinguish between them. Luckily we have other features to distinguish between Fasan and Tellson. Notice that they have Sharp corners at the center, unlike the Rodebald Hoyer at the right. The angle between the outside of the low oval and the left side of the hole is close to 90 degrees on Fasan and Tellson, but clearly more on the Rodebald Hoyer.
This oval ending f-hole is much more upright with big oval endings almost at 90 degree angle. This is very typical Arnold Hoyer hole and can be found only on Arnold Hoyer guitars and “Hoyer Gitarre” ( made by his Family )
Here another, very common type, I call them “hopf-holes” because they are very common on Hopf guitars, but they can be found on several brands:
The one shown here is from a Soli, but they can be found on Hopf, Klira, Triumphator, Astro ,Alosa, (Glassl ? ) and more brands like Otto Gläsel ( Soli) and more…If they have the same dimensions I dont know, but they are good clues to tell which brands to look for.
Here is another one which cant be mistaken with others :
This is Again a Arnold Hoyer hole. I cant recall at the moment if it also can found on “Hoyer Gitarre” , but I dont think so..its around 17,2 cm long and 3,7 cm wide.
F holes with a “S” shape or “Höfner-style” holes.
Left is Höfner , right is W.Hüttl ( a bit more open ), Höfners holes also became wider over time, but the shape is the same . You can also see the Höfner holes on old Framus and Klira, which is not strange. This style can also be seen on Alosa and Hoyer , but at the moment I have no pics frome these.
The “S” shape can be more pronounced :
This is from a Neubauer. I have the same hole on a ESCO ( can very well have been made by Neubuer ) but I have also seen it on czech made Braüer’s . Anyway this is not a common shape, so Look for Neubauer and Braüer.
F-holes with vertical oval endings :
Left is Roger hole . Very elegant ca. 20,8 cm long hole. It also comes in a slightly wider version which is later. At the right is a Rodebald Hoyer hole he used for a few years in the mid 50ies.
Left one , not quite as straight as the two above is from Framus ( used on Billy Lorento models and more ). At the right its a very elegant f-hole from Artur Lang ( send to me by Martin K) . Notice that its very close to the narrow Roger shown above..Its almost a copy. Even the length is about the same ( 20,8 cm ) , but Rogers normally dont have binding in the f-holes and Langs do …NOTICE : almost the very same hole also appears on a few GDR made Roger copies ( and expropriated Rogers ) , and then they are usually bound. German carved bodyplates in combination with bound holes in this style is almost certainly GDR made Roger – kopies of some kind. Musima Spezial and Musima Ambassador are good examples of these.
F-hole with round endings :
Left is Rodebald Hoyer . He used this hole from 1961 to the end in 1966.
“Notch-less” f-hole :
This hole is used a lot by Framus in various sizes, but can also be seen on small Klira’s and maybe a few more…
Here a Neubauer ( thanks Marco ) :
Here a very special f- hole :
This hole I have only seen on guitars supposed to be by Franz Hirsch. He worked a short time for the Hoyer Family and I strongly suppose this “Hoyer-Gitarre” was made by him, but I could be wrong….( I dont think so 😉 )
More f- holes will be added ( june 6 , 2016 )
Sickle hole with Sharp endings
left is old Alosa Standard. right is Hofner ( 1952 model 459 )
Left is Isana. This hole was used on most “Elvis-models”. Right is early Baiersdorf Framus from a model Cutaway. lower curve is not so pronounced and upper hole is slimmer, but at first sight they look pretty close.The Black Rose has holes of the same shape 18,5 cm long and 2,8 cm wide.
Sickle holes with a Sharp and a round end :
This hole is from Artur Lang. Can also be seen on the models he made for Alosa. Later on he made them round in both ends..
Sickle holes with rounded endings :
The two upper samples are from a Glassl and a Klira. Below is left Alosa and right is Artur Lang . Same style can also be seen on Tellsons, Hoyer’s, Alosa’s and more.
The Glassl upper left is 20,5 cm long and about 2,5 wide at the knot. The Klira upper right is 19,5 cm long and about 3 cm wide ( outside the binding). Below left is Alosa hole in the same style, but 3,5 cm wide and 19,5 long. Artur Lang is shorter , 18 cm long and 3,3 cm wide.
I have got some Photos from Marco Russ ( Thanks Marco 😉 ) :
left is Framus, right is unknown, but close to one I have seen on an Astro. Notice that the upper part is shorter than lower part. I do not have the dimensions, but the shape alone is good info, though most Framus and Astro’s are labeled anyway…
D.T. send me this :
Its from Arold Hoyer. Notice the short upperpart.
Teardrop with Sharp lower end :
Teardrop holes with Sharp lower ending like the Pilar at the left and theNeubauer (Anton or Helmut) at the right are not common in westgermany , but very common in GDR ( Vogtland , Eastgermany ) . In westgermany I can only think of Roger at the moment , apart from Pilar and Neubauer. Roger used this kind of holes on higher end models. A very good link for Roger holes here : http://www.schlaggitarren.de/home.php?text=hersteller&kenn=93
Teardrop with round ending
Here its Arnold Hoyer hole at the left ( reversed for comparison ) and Glassl at the right. As with the sickle holes youll notice that Glassl liked to have the lower part with almost parallel sides of the hole. Several westgerman brands used this kind of holes …Alosa, Astro, Fasan, Hopf, Klira, Höfner, Hoyer-Gitarre, Isana, Tellson …well most of the westgerman makers used this kind of hole so its not a really good clue. To eventually distinguish between them I need more Photos. They can vary in length and shape, but also how they are placed on the body . As the example above you can see that the Arnold Hoyer hole runs more parallel to the edge of the guitarbody than the Glassl. A rather easy to identifie teardrop that was used by Penzel You can see here : http://www.schlaggitarren.de/home.php?text=hersteller&kenn=86 its long and runs into a narrow ending …more to come …
Hüttl also had some extra curvy teardrops pointing more in :
Left is Artur Lang . the lower line of the upper hole is konkave and you can imagine the outer lines of both holes forming a banana. Right one is from Glassl. The upper hole is shaped like a mandible and the lower hole has the outside changing direction more suddenly … it can not form a banana… at first sight the holes are close, and the glassl divided hole is mainly to be found on the Hopf 320 L which also looks quite close to a flatcut artur lang model..
Here are two divided holes from Neubauer. I think the left one is from August Neubauer, but Im not sure about it. Right one is Helmut Neubauer.
Left is Rodebald Hoyers divided hole. Right is Anton Sandner Again very different shapes and easy recognizable.
DETAILS FROM NECK
And there are many things to look at at necks, like fretmarkers and how they are placed, shape of head, details around the nut, heel, how they are radiused, and volutes and neckextensions, is the fretboardcorner rounded or sharpcornered ? aso….
For now lets start with
Volute is kind of “hump” at the neck to head transition.
Some guitars , quite many in fact, have no volutes at all.
This is without volute at all and with special attached head . Its old Artur Lang and can be found on Lang labeled guitars, and the ones he delivered to Alosa as well as those labeled Prämus and the older Mastro Arturo’s.
At the left its Arnold Hoyer. Except for a very few 40ies models no Arnold Hoyer jazzguitars have volutes in the fifties,,,after around 1961 they get some smaller volutes. “Hoyer-Gitarre” made by his family all have pronunced volutes. A very distinctive difference.
At the right its a no volute from Rodebald Hoyer. His guitars never had volutes. A lamination like this example is by itself enough to ID it as Rod. Hoyer.
Some guitars Like early Framus actually have an opposite volute thinning ogt the neck towards the head . Here from a Black Rose de Luxe :
Hüttl often have a very small barely noticeable volute :
Now we go to the more “normal” volutes.
Soli have a rounded volute like the examples above. You can find them on Hanikas own Soli’s and on brands he delivered to like a few Alosa, Gläsel and pretty many Hopf’s
Some goes a little more down at the center like the following:
Here a Höfner 1952 at the left and a Höfner 1964 at the right.
the three above are all fasans from different time…the last one is very much like Isana :
and thats not so strange since Isana and Fasan probably had collaboration.
Artur Lang made similar volute :
A maker like Gustav Glassl made his volutes almost V-shaped :
You can see that shape also on the Hopf’s he made , and something similar on some Astro’s ( maybe he made them too ? )
Some Neubauer’s show something similar :
As opposite to the non volute Arnold Hoyers the “Hoyer-Gitarre” made by his family shows very pronunced volutes:
The one at the left is not so typical as the one at the right, which is actually from an Alosa Standard that they probably delivered too.
Some volutes are even more pronounced as this :
a Roger volute form the sixties. Roger is probably the only westgerman maker with that kind of volute, but it was copied very much in GDR ( which we will see later )
can sometimes tell things too, even not as well as holes .. but anyway, here some “tricks” :
A long space without frets like this is very very common on GDR made guitars, but very rarely seen on westgerman brands. In fact I only know about two makers who did it this way. One delivered top Hopf ( and they are not very common ) , I havent identified that maker yet, but the other one made many guitars like this. Its Wolfgang Hüttl. You can see this end , and sometimes even longer fretless endings on guitars labeled with his own name, but also on the ones he delivered to Lindberg and Voss and more…most of his guitars were made like this.
Many Klira’s – the majority – has a small, but easy recognizeable space at the end :
more makers have something similar but a bit less pronounced : Höfner, Lang, Tellson and a few more…
Gustav Glassl however used the hole fretboard and put as many frets there as possible. Many of his guitars have the last fret close the end :
Neubauers often have something very similar,- and that might not be a coincidence. In fact Glassl and Neubauer neckends have very much in common:
Another thing to notice is if the corners are rounded or sharp. In the early days after the war most had rounded corners, but from early fifties and way into the sixties the makers got more individual.
In general Höfner had rounded corners like here :
other brands that had rounded corners as a rule ( with exceptions ) are Fasan, Juwel and more ( will make a list later )
Sharp corners were generally the rule for Isana, Arnold Hoyer, Glassl, Rod. Hoyer after 1954 and many more ( list will come )
At some time, on some models Arnold Hoyer’s had one round and one sharp corner :
Penzel also had one rounded corner and a sharp and the way he did it its diagnostic and enough to tell who made the guitar. You can see samples here : http://www.schlaggitarren.de/home.php?text=hersteller&kenn=86
is somehow more fruitfull to determine a possible maker. There are two basic things to notice. Is it a highriding neck or a lowriding ? ( highriders have distance to the top from the base and out where the low riders seems to rise out of the body ) . The second thing to notice is whether the extension has inserted wood or not. More about that later.
In early postwar days the extensions were all thin , but from around early fifties they get meatier and more different from maker to maker.
Normally I look at the extension seen from the side, but now Ill start with a look from the end.
As You can see ith thicker on the treble side than on bass side. Thats to fit the contours of the top of the cutaway model. Its not like this on the noncut models. This way to do it is diagnostic to Tellson. Noone else did it that way.
Here followed by some typical ways to shape the extension:
Thinning out towards the end :
Thinning out in a radiused curve. Pic is from a Klira, but Höfners are in general similar, and probably more. Notice this is a lowrider.
Straigt cut at the end with inserted wood. This is a Hüttl .
This is Neubauer. Highriding with no woodinsert and straight cut. Slightly thinning out in a straight line. Im not sure this extension is very typical for Neubauer, but the only one I have pics from fro now.
This is typical 60ies Glassl. No wood insert , rather straight and straight cut.
The nonwood insert necks are mainly seen on Lang,Roger, Glassl, Neubauer, Astro ( made by Glassl ? ) and Hopf ( probably Glassls ) . Maybe they had neckblanks delivered from the same supplier, but its also remarkable, that these makers apart from Lang all belong to the Hirsch-school…( students from Hirsch )
much more to come about extensions, but for now Im short of photos 😉