1970-1979

1970



Around this time people travelled to Hamburg to buy equipment. There was "No.1" in Talstraße and "George's Music Shop" in Gärtnerstraße.  No.1 was very big (the name didn't suggest otherwise), was overpriced and had arrogant staff. George on the other hand was a real insider.  He regularly had old Fenders from the 60's, he knew a lot about them and his prices were ok. His expertise went so far that he could tell in which month or year Strats and Teles were built.  This kind of expertise was hard to come by in Germany in the early 70s!  He also wound pickups that were supposed to sound like old Gibson PAFs or even better. Anyway, they were great and that was long before the first DiMarzio pickups came on the market in Germany.  Another nugget from George: he was the one who told me that if you take the little spring out of the Strat 3-way switch, you can get these intermediate positions between the pickups. 5-way-switches didn't exist at that time!

1971

The big dream of becoming famous as a musician was soon gone, despite the fact that I had plenty of time. Shortly after graduating from high school in autumn 1972 in Bremerhaven I was always short of money and I had to go to work with some band members unloading a banana steamer at five in the morning.  The yellow bananas went onto the cattle feed pallets, the green ones for further sale. Our gig at an American club had fallen through. But we were not bad at all - soul music with all kinds of Billy Preston numbers and stuff.  Back in Hannover I wrote German songs like "Hallo Herr Frankenstein, bau'n Sie mir ne Frau". (Hello Mr. Frankenstein, build me a woman.)

Thanks to a student job as a helper for a junk removal company, I got the idea to do the same thing myself. The guy I worked for really made a killing.  Of course my first thought in those early years, as I said before, was to become independent from my parents as soon as possible. So I bought an old Ford van and started in the business.  "Student does small transports and clearing out any time at low cost". This was a great thing, although it should be noted that even then in 1972, I spent part of my income eating Italian food.  Just around the corner from my shared flat was Hannover's first Italian restaurant, Via Veneto.  They not only made the finest pizza and pasta but also offered a handsome antipasti buffet.

England

Then I found out that that in London one could buy old Marshalls at very reasonable prices. Yet another possibility to make me financially more independent from my parents.  I immediately went to London with my van to buy amplifiers and speakers.  There was a newspaper called "Exchange a Mart," where you could find the good stuff.  Across London and various suburbs the van filled up day by day and at night I slept in my sleeping bag on the mattress on top of the layers of equipment.

When it came to buying a Höfner Committee guitar, I met a guy named Roger Giffin in a shop on Denmark Street, a guitar repairer who had a small basement workshop at home and produced Fender necks out of raw wood. This kind of initiative has always inspired me and brought me to think: what he can do, I can do as well!  I still have the Höfner today, and it has given me a lot of inspiration to incorporate "German design" into my Duesenberg guitars.

Höfner Committee

The old amps and cabinets from Marshall, Sound City, Vox etc. were easy to sell. Only collecting the money from musicians was a problem. But I had learned something from the business.


In this beautiful period the Leine Domizil club opened its doors, the best small live music venue in Hannover. A lot of good local bands played there as well as a lot of other name bands like Vitesse, Steve Gibbons, Inga Rumpf, Herman Brood etc.  In general, the Domi was a great scene and meeting place, where bands wooed members away from each other. Focus on guitarists.  And last but not least, after the foundation of my business a few years later, a lot of hip musicians would show up at our Hannover location, which opened in 1980. A highlight was always Roger Chapman, whose guitarist Steve Simpson also used our guitar with the female body during a breathtaking concert.

Steve Simpson

1972

Kunst

Actually, I wanted to study art. I had sent a folder of my artistic creations at that time together with my application to the University of Berlin.  There was no answer for a long time.  When I finally got the acceptance, I had already begun studying teaching at the Pädagogische Hochschule in Hannover, what a crazy idea!  Besides, I had been living with my girlfriend "Hanni" for quite some time and so I left Berlin and art behind.

1974 

After five semesters of studies I was unnerved by the daily pedagogical routine and moved to Würzburg with Hanni, the future mother of my daughter Julia "Jule", to study law. Law, the second crazy idea! I think most lawyers only did that because they couldn't think of anything better to do, then lead a life as "rentable conscience!" No thanks, but for now it doesn't matter... In Würzburg my band "Otto's Ohrwurm" was quickly founded and I kept my head above water with junk removal, moving and transport of all kinds. In addition, I dedicated myself to repairing guitars and basses of the local musicians in this wonderful place.

Otto’s Ohrwurm

Ottos Ohrwurm

In the kitchen, I had already set up a small workbench and my main work consisted of disassembling various pickups of Höfner guitars - which I could acquire very cheaply. I had to unsolder the covers and look inside, because some sounded really good but others didn't, and I wanted to know why.  Conclusion: instead of two coils (humbuckers) only one was used.  But at least the Höfner pickup had an Alnico 5 magnet underneath the coil. The same silver magnet that was used in the Gibson PAFs. Well, well, well... Anyway, the pickups with two coils sounded great, the best mini humbuckers.

But nobody really believed that then, and maybe not to this day. Everyone was just following in the footsteps of these supposedly great Gibson humbuckers.  I remember that years before I had heard from somebody that there were some guys in San Diego who supposedly made good copies of the old PAF pickups.  I went to the Hanover Chamber of Commerce and looked through American company address books.  I found a company in San Diego whose business was listed with "pickups".  I wrote to them and about four months later I received a letter in reply, saying that they were happy about my inquiry, but only modified cars into vehicles with a bed: Pickups, of course!

1976 

In 1976 our daughter Julia was born and shortly after that we moved from Würzburg to Göttingen. All good reasons to visit the families in Hannover and Eimbeckhausen more often. The parents of my Hannelore had a huge furniture factory in Eimbeckhausen (35 km away from Hannover), where they could have made guitar bodies, for example - no question! Hannelore's brother Hardy managed the factory and gave me all kinds of insights.  My first impression was that it is much more complex to produce a Biedermeier chair than a guitar body or neck! In general, a lot of milling templates are used to copy and produce shapes on professional machines.

Wenthe

1977 

I had bought a severely warped 62 Strat neck from a dance musician for 50 marks, the frets were shot.  At that time I could not yet do fretting, but a friend knew a guitar maker in Erlangen-Bubenreuth. I went there, handed him the neck and we started talking about which other companies were around.  There were not only the guitar factories like Höfner, Hoyer, Framus and Klira, but also a number of subcontractors who made wooden and metal parts like pickups, pickguards and other things for those factories. A real hot spot!

And here is an important aspect of guitar production that I had not been aware of at all and that is still kept secret from guitar buyers: a guitar factory does not produce everything itself. The main activity is the design of their models, some of the woodworking and component selection, followed by finishing and final assembly.

Most of the components are ordered from suppliers who specialize in the processing of certain materials. This is just like a car factory that does not make seats, exhaust systems, interior fittings, tires and rims, brake drums or anything else itself.  All those German companies supplied the German and American guitar industry. And as you know, "Made in Germany" had quickly become a new term for quality after the war.

I wrote everything down in my little notebook, looked at the road map and then visited a few. Surprise! In particular, there was a hardware and precision engineering company and a company that manufactured pickguards, among other things. Really great stuff! And nobody knew that these companies also supplied the Americans.  We Germans sometimes have an inferiority complex, not believing in ourselves. Since I've been living in Spain, I see it completely differently. Our country really has an incredible reputation when it comes to our products. And so it was in this case!  Great things with a high standard of quality, and the main point:  everything at great prices! A set of machine heads at a third of the Schaller price, a wrap-around bridge, which cost DM 120 from Badass in the shop, was available from the hardware company for a fraction of that. At that very moment I knew what my future business would be: Guitar Parts!

It should be mentioned that such a thing practically did not exist at the time. Maybe a few Schaller parts or horrendously expensive Bigsby vibratos and eventually the first Di Marzio pickups became available, but that was it.  All the guitarists, including me, were longing for something like that!  There were already some decent German guitars back then, especially from Hoyer.  But everything was a copy of Gibson and Fender and almost everything was elaborately made with all these metal pickguards and the Schaller machine heads of the best quality.  But apart from that, most German guitar companies at that time produced rather non-functional instruments at a high cost.  Just think of these laminated wood necks from Framus!  They were certainly very stable, but they just didn't sound right.  A lot of details were not quite correct, not enough string spacing on the bridges, weak pressure angles from the tremolo to the bridge, and even with the pickups, nobody paid attention to the fact that the meticulously calculated coil values would totally go down the drain  after being covered with a nickel-plated brass cover.  What a pity!

Back in Würzburg I sat in the bathtub a few evenings later and meditated on these things. Worth knowing about Erlangen! Everything was there to start a business with all the components.  Everything was cheap and excellent.  Hardware, tuners, pickups, wood for the necks. My meditation suddenly ended with the inspiration for the first electric guitar kit in the world.  Yes, provide people with everything they need to build their own individual guitar!

Wannen-Genuss

When I went to Bubenreuth to pick up the wonderfully refretted Strat neck, I made another detour to some suppliers.  I bagged all brochures and price lists and thought about a first assortment for my mail order business.


The Hardware Company

Horst Müller

Unfortunately, the Müller company has long since ceased to exist; a small, medium-sized precision engineering firm with no less than 20 employees. They produced hardware for practically all German guitar factories, i.e. bridges, tailpieces and more, milled from brass and sheet metal. You can fabricate metal parts out of solid material with mills and drills, or cast in a mold under high pressure with zinc. The latter allows better design possibilities and is much cheaper in production. But for us guitarists, this unfortunately leads to a reduction in the sound quality of stringed elements (apart from parts made of cast aluminum).

Anyway, this company made everything from solid brass blocks, including the beautiful tailpieces and bridges for well-known American companies like Gretsch and Guild.  The boss was an ingenious older man with a good sense of humor and when I asked him if I could order hardware of my own design from him, he answered, confident of victory: "We can do EVERYTHING!” Now that's a statement...

ROKO

Robert Kolb

Based directly in Bubenreuth and out of business for a long time, the Robert Kolb company had the sonorous brand name of ROKO. It was a German thing that the company owners extracted one syllable each from their first and last names and made it their brand. See also HARIBO (Hans Riegel Bonn)

After the war, the good Robert Kolb began to produce guitar and violin components - as did the Schaller company- especially machine heads, bridges and tailpieces with die-casting technology, as well as stamped steel parts. Robert was politically quite right-wing, always walked around in traditional suits and always turned up his nose at small orders. "Mr. Goelsdorf, if you order ONLY 20 sets, it can't be a business for you!"

He overlooked the fact that I wasn't able to order more than 20 sets in my financial situation. Apart from that however, you have to admit that he was a really innovative technician and had some extraordinary and extremely durable products to offer, which were built into a lot of Höfner, Framus, Klira and also Gretsch guitars, quasi bullet proof construction. The best product from Kolb, however, was a patented mechanism in which the worm wheel was pressed against the gear wheel by means of a steel spring plate clip.  This mechanism still works perfectly today after about 50 years. There is no other make of gear like this!

ROKO Hardware

Höfner

Christian Benker (rechts)

Höfner was just around the corner, at that time still under the management of a Mr. Benker, who was a really friendly man who immediately showed me around the place. There were plenty of half-finished necks, some of which he was happy to sell to me.  For production they had a copy router and each neck was exactly like the next. All of them were made of maple, which was hardly visible on the finished guitars, because the necks were all painted opaque. Anyway, this way I got a first impression of neck production.

Pickguards

Pickguard

Rosin and ceiling protectors ... What are ceiling protectors? Pickguards. And Mr. Glassl produced all pickguards from real celluloid for the German guitar industry and for a bunch of guitar builders. I wasn't interested in the rosin; reddish transparent chunks over which you draw the bows of the string instruments. For pickguards, however, they had various colors and layered plates (white-black-white or black-white-black and a beautiful tortoise shell). And his prices were as cheap as all the other suppliers. Unfortunately he stopped the pickguard production a long time ago and specialized only in the rosin business.

Neck blanks etc.

Halsrohlinge

There was also this wood company which produced bodies and tops for hollow bodies as well as complete bodies made of plywood. "Boxes" they called them in those days, while solidbodies were called "planks". They even had a patent for making solid tops using heat, moisture and pressure. In addition, these Franconian perfectionists made precisely made-to-measure milled neck blanks from maple and mahogany, including a truss rod. They "only" had to glue the fretboard on it and then of course a lot of sanding and fretwork followed. At that time practically all smaller guitar builders and individuals bought the blanks from this company, because it saved a lot of work, time, shavings and dust.

Fingerboards

Griffbretter

There was also a fretboard and marquetry company named Klier, which produced all kinds of slotted fretboards with mother-of-pearl inlays using sophisticated technology. During my first visit the boss, Mr. Klier, proudly presented me with various headstock overlays with Gibson emblems.

It’s hard to believe, but this man did inlay works for almost all American companies, i.e. Gibson, Fender, Martin, Gretsch and others. He also had first-class fret wire in all possible sizes and a large assortment of saddles, bridge inlays and bridge pins. I bought a lot there, especially necks with precut fret slots and radiused fingerboards. With the pre-milled neck blanks I could actually make the necks myself.

Shadow Pickups – Joe Marinic

NAMM mit Joe Marinic

Joe "Josip" - also nearby - is a great guy who helped me a lot in the beginning. He not only invented the under-saddle piezo pickup but also made a bunch of pickups for all kinds of companies. Also double coil pickups for Hoyer, which had a nice humbucker sound for those days.  But the most important thing was: he offered me all kinds of pickup parts like coil formers, magnets, pole screws and pole pieces for sale, as well as pots, switches, sockets etc.   At this first visit I bought a lot of parts right away (see later Pickup-Experiments).

Practically all plastic pickup parts were produced by injection molding.  For this, you have to have high-pressure resistant steel molds made by specialist companies, and each mold of this kind cost about 10,000 Deutschmark even then - nothing I could have afforded.  But I had the source for real pickup parts!

Strings

In the same location there was a company that specialized in the production of strings for classical instruments, but also imported guitar and bass strings from the USA and resold them in private label or anonymous packaging.

With that I had almost everything that belongs on a guitar and beyond, available to open a business.

Business

So back into the bathtub again - (for me still the best place for creative thinking) to my idea for the first guitar kit in the world:

- a neck (practically finished except for the headstock shape)

- a rectangular body (which could be used to create many different designs)

- absolutely high-quality hardware

- real quality pickups... and your guitar is ready!

The only problem was the body with the cut-outs, but anyone, like me at that time, could take it to a carpenter to have a self-designed shape cut out on the band saw.

But a tight neck fit was an important point even back then, which was often criticized in guitar tests by the trade press and led to heavy negative points in the final score (especially with the CBS Fender guitars after 1965).

With my kit the buyer would have the option of gluing the neck in or screwing it to the body.  If the neck pocket of the kit had "too much play" (like on a Fender), this would have been the end of my idea.  It was absolutely necessary to make sure that the neck would fit exactly into the body, regardless of the design.

Hanni's brother, Hardy, explained me how to get the millings done perfectly in the wood, so after work I went to the furniture factory to a copy mill and started working. I learned a lot in that factory, practically everything about woodworking.


Rohling Body

1978

Endlich war die Zeit gekommen, ein Geschäft zu gründen … Geld musste her. Ein befreundeter Musiker arbeitete in Hannover als Banker und riet mir, mit meiner Idee einen Kleinkredit zu beantragen. Was natürlich blanker Unsinn ist, denn ohne Sicherheiten rücken die Banken keinen Pfennig raus. Zum Glück hat dann aber meine Hanni (Möbelfabrik in der Hinterhand) für mich gebürgt. Aber für was? Für lächerliche 5.000 Mark (heute € 2.500)! Dennoch: Mit meinem wenigen, bereits gesparten, und den Almosen von der Bank habe ich mein erstes Sortiment an Parts und Bausatzkomponenten geordert. Ein Sprung ins kalte Wasser …

Atze’s Soundhouse holt den Sound raus!

Offizieller Geschäftsbeginn

So hieß mein erstes Versandgeschäft, und in Hannover sagen sie bis heute „Atze“ zu mir. Im „Fachblatt“ (vormals „Riebe’s Fachblatt“, heute „Gitarre & Bass“) habe ich eine kleine Anzeige geschaltet und fuhr mit meinem Bausatz nach Bonn zu Dieter Roesberg zwecks Testbericht.

Um die vielen Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten des Bausatzes aufzuzeigen, hatte ich eine Gitarre in Cowboystiefel-Form gebaut. Im Nachhinein nicht meine beste Marketing-Idee. Besser wäre eine Stratocaster-Form mit speziellen Features gewesen. Doch Dieter hat sofort erkannt, dass hier etwas Neues im Gange war.

Ich hatte zwei unterschiedliche „BAU SIE DIR SELBST-KITS“ am Start, sowie ein recht überschaubares Sortiment an Mechaniken und selbst designten Wrap-Around-Bridges (siehe erster Katalog „Atze’s Soundhouse“). Obendrein sogar das erste Wrap-Around-Tremolo („der Style Super-Vibrator“), Stege, allerlei Elektrik-Parts, Saiten usw.

Und schon trudelten die ersten Katalog-Bestellungen ins schmale Reihenhaus im Göttinger Ostviertel, mit Werkstatt und Lager im Keller. Und kurz nachdem derBausatztestbericht im Fachblatt erschienen war, rissen die Auftragsbestellungen nicht mehr ab. Meiomei, die ersten Kataloge habe ich noch mit einer IBM Kugelkopf-Schreibmaschine und Letraset Aufreibe-Buchstaben für die Überschriften layoutet.

Katalog 1978

Soundhouse

Bausatz 1, Cowboystiefel-Body

Tremolo

Titelbilder

Bridges Tailpieces

Pickups

Wicklung

Das Jurastudium hatte ich praktisch schon geschmissen und mich nur wegen der Krankenversicherung weiter eingeschrieben, meine Band „Schulzrock“ („jetzt endlich in deutsche Sprache“) hatte lokalen Erfolg, und mein neues Business wuchs mir ein wenig über den Kopf. Also beteiligte ich unseren Bassisten Michael Zülsdorff an meinem Geschäft (Gölsdorf & Zülsdorff). „Züli“ war Physikstudent und kenntnisreich in elektrischen Dingen; Vorgänge, die mir eher fremd waren. Und auch mein Freund Ullus, unser Leadgitarrist, den ich noch in Würzburg kennengelernt hatte und der zeitgleich mit mir nach Göttingen gezogen war, wusste einiges über Elektrik und dergleichen, weil er als Kind einen Kosmos-Elektromann-Baukasten gehabt hatte.

Junior mit Wrapper

Ullus hatte eine Les Paul Junior und ich zwei Gibson Juniors und eine Epiphone. Alle mit P-90 Pickups bestückt. Ein echt geiler Sound, wie wir fanden. Das muss wohl auch Leslie West so empfunden haben, als dieser versierte Les-Paul-Junior-Spieler mit seiner Band „Mountain“ in jenen Jahren weltweit Furore machte. Der dicke Leslie, Ullus und ich hatten offenbar denselben Geschmack in Sachen Gitarrensound. Einmal mehr – wenngleich etwas an den Haaren herbeigezogen – fühlte ich mich bestätigt in meiner These, dass die eigentlich geilen Gibsons nicht die Les Pauls (oder anderen Humbucker-Gitarren) waren, sondern vielmehr die Modelle Les Paul Junior, TV und Melody Maker. Alles Gitarren mit Single-Coil-Pickups und Wrap-Around-Bridges. Wer einmal Carlos Santana mit seiner „billigen“, P-90 bestückten SG mit diesem unglaublich geilen Sound auf dem Woodstock-Festival (gesehen und) gehört hat, der weiß, was ich meine. Aber die Geschmäcker sind nun mal verschieden. 

Der Zufall half mir, dass ich aus Erlangen eben auch jegliche Bauteile für P-90-artige und sonstige Pickups beziehen konnte. Und so folgte ich meinem ureigenen Antrieb, meinem Credo: Wir machen das selber!

„Klar, so‘n Pickup, das ist doch nur ‘ne Spule aus Kupferdraht und ein Magnet!“, sagte Ullus. Auch Zülsdorff war gleich Feuer und Flamme und besorgte sogleich eine Messbrücke, einen Tongenerator und einen Oszillographen, um der Physik der Pickups auf den Grund zu gehen. Die Idee: Was kommt von den Saiten als Schwingung rein in den Pickup und was kommt raus? Und wie kann man das physikalisch verifizieren?

Hier Ullus mit seiner TV-Junior – Schulzrock auf dem Altstadtfest in Göttingen

Ullus mit TV Junior

Dabei wurde als erstes festgestellt, dass sämtliche P-90 völlig unterschiedliche Werte hatten – egal, ob am Steg oder am Hals. Anscheinend hatte man bei Gibson einfach nur nach Augenmaß und Gutdünken gewickelt. Aber egal: Wir hatten einige Juniors, die einfach gigantisch klangen, und eine ES-330, deren Halspickup ebenso genial offen zur Ansprache kam. Die Analyse dieser beiden Pickups haben wir für unsere eigenen Kreationen benutzt, und machten uns weiter Gedanken über „perfekte“ Tonabnehmer.

Ullus wusste von seinen Elektromann-Kenntnissen, wie die Spulen zu wickeln waren. Allerdings galt es zu bedenken, dass schon damals die meisten handelsüblichen Gitarren Humbucker hatten, also mit entsprechenden Ausfräsungen. Kein herkömmlicher P-90 hätte gepasst. Doch Zülsdorff kriegte es hin, für eine P-90-Spule in Humbuckergröße genau dieselben Werte zu erzielen, die unsere grandioser Junior-Pickups hatten. Unsere „Domino“-Pickups waren geboren.

Rockinger Domino

Dieselben Versuche und Analysen wurden mit allen anderen „amtlichen“ Pickups gemacht (Strat, Tele, Jazz-Bass, P-Bass usw.) und wir konnten unser erstes eigenes Pickup-Sortiment anbieten: selbst gewickelt, montiert, verlötet und verwachst gegen eventuelles Feedback. Züli hat sämliche Frequenzgangskurven verschiedenster Wicklungen genauestens aufgezeichnet und außerdem entdeckt, dass Pickup-Kappen aus Messing wegen des darin enthaltenen Nickels die Kurven nach oben drückten, also den Sound negativ beeinfussten. Nur die originalen Gibson PAFs hatten Neusilberkappen, welche sich nicht auf den Sound auswirken. Und die Müller-Hardware-Company war in der Lage, diese Kappen aus Neusilber zu machen. Bingo!

Mein lieber Herr Gesangsverein, wir haben damals wirklich Nächte durchgearbeitet, 22-Stunden-Tage waren keine Seltenheit. Aber sowas macht man, wenn es etwas zu erforschen und entwickeln gibt.

Eine Meisterleistung von Züli war auch, unseren Stromzähler im Keller anders herum anzuschließen, sodass dieser rückwärts lief. „So spart man doppelt!“. Außerdem gab es eine Art Reißleine, um das Versorgungskabel im Falle eines Besuches von den Stadtwerken blitzschnell entfernen zu können.

Und hier sieht man unsere Wickelmaschine. Ein kleiner Elektromotor mit Scheibe zur Aufnahme diverser Spulen, nebst Zählwerk und Drahtführung, die dazu diente, den Spulendraht relativ ungeordnet aufzuwickeln, weil das die elektrische Kapazität verringert und damit die Pickups offener klingen.

Wickelmaschine

1979 durchgehende Hälse

Durchgehende Hälse

Plötzlich kamen die ersten Gitarren und Bässe mit durchgehenden Hälsen auf den Markt. Diese neue Bauart mussten wir natürlich sofort für neue Bausätze übernehmen. Die Erlanger Holzfirma hatte auch umgehend mit der Produktion von Halsrohlingen dieser Art begonnen. Man konnte die genau nach Maß in diversen Holzvariationen ordern, also z.B. Ahorn mit einem Mittelstreifen Mahagoni oder Mahagoni mit verschieden starken Ahornstreifen.

Dann folgte ein arbeitsintensiver Prozess: Griffbretter aufleimen, schleifen, egalisieren, Bünde einpressen undplanieren, polieren etc. Ganz einfach war das nicht. Die Griffbretter mussten natürlich genau zentriert sitzen und mit den Außenkanten der Halsrohlinge fluchten. Und wenn man zwei Teile Holz mit Holzleim aufeinander leimt, verschiebt sich da per Zwingendruck gern mal was in jegliche Richtungen. Also haben wir zwei kurze Nagelstifte ins Halsunterteil gehämmert, sodass die noch minimal nach oben heraus standen. Anschließend die Griffbretter genauestens positioniert und mit zwei Hammerschlägen fixiert, sodass sich beim Festziehen der Zwingen nichts mehr bewegen konnte. Die Bünde haben wir mit einem umfunktionierten Wolfcraft-Bohrständer eingepresst, dann alles mit unterschiedlichen Feilen egalisiert und per Schwingschleifer samt feinstem Naßschleifpapier spiegelglatt poliert.

Durchgehender Hals

Noch in Göttingen

Atzes Soundhouse Cartoon

qz Rocket-Manual

Schwingschleifer

Der alte Wilfer

Wilfer

Wir waren auf der Suche nach etwas exotischeren Holz-Seitenteilen für die Bausätze mit durchgehenden Hälsen. Und wieder einmal war es Joe Marinic, der mir mit einem guten Tip weiterhelfen konnte: ich solle es doch mal beim alten Wilfer versuchen.Wilfer? Klar, die Firma Framus, die gerade die große Pleite hinter sich hatte. Die hätten bestimmt einiges an Holz zu verkaufen.

Vater und Sohn Wilfer hatten gerade den Namen Warwick aus der Taufe gehoben. Die Vorgänger-Firma Framus war zwar stark geschrumpft, aber es war immer noch eine riesige Fabrik im weitesten Sinne. Sohn Hans-Peter hatte gerade als junger Spunt die Geschäftsführung übernommen, und Vater Fred krauchte auch irgendwie in der Fabrik rum und versuchte aus dem Hintergrund, das stark angeschlagene Schiff wieder auf Kurs zu bringen. Aber die eigentlich guten Ideen für Framus, bzw. jetzt Warwick, kamen stets von einem gewissen „Bill Lawrence“, dessen bürgerlicher Name Joseph Stich (damals mehr als „Billy Lorento“ bekannt). Der hat Sohnemann Wilfer schließlich auch geraten, die damals hoch am Markt stehenden Spector-Bässe zu kopieren, was dann ja auch ein Super-Erfolg für Warwick wurde.

Und so kam man letztlich auf die Idee, sich unbedingt wieder eine spezielle Reichenbacher Kopierfräse für Gitarrenhälse anzuschaffen, wie sie leider im Laufe der Framus-Pleite 1975 unter den Hammer gekommen war. Diese Maschine arbeitet mit einem Modell zweier quasi auf der Griffbrettseite aufeinander geleimter Hälse, welches rundherum abgetastet wird und zur gleichen Zeit einen Fräser steuert, der einen oder mehrere Holzrohlinge rundherum abfräst. So kann man beliebige Halskonturen automatisch und perfekt herstellen. Der abgefräste Block wird dann in der Mitte auseinander geschnitten und man hat zwei Hälse, an denen man nur noch minimale Feinheiten nachschleifen muss – immens weniger Arbeit, als bei den Halsrohlingen, die wir verwendeten.

Und genau so eine Maschine stand in der Eimbeckhausener Möbelfabrik meiner Schwiegereltern zur Fertigung von Stuhl- und Tischbeinen und sollte aus irgendeinem Grunde weg. Also bin ich mit dem alten Wilfer von Erlangen aus zu meinen Schwiegereltern gefahren. 

Der Wilfer-Fred war ein ziemlich verrückter Typ, egozentrisch und narzistisch, und hatte für sein damaliges Alter von Mitte 60 noch immer eine unglaubliche Energie. Als wir dann aber mit meinem Schwiegervater zusammen saßen und der finanzielle Teil der Aktion zur Sprache kam, stellte sich leider heraus, dass Fred abstruse Finanzierungsvorstellungen und gleichwohl keine deutsche Mark auf der Naht hatte. So ist das Projekt geplatzt. Aber es war ’ne interessante Fahrt von fast 1.000 Kilometern, und Fred hatte allerlei zu erzählen; allerlei Dinge, die für meinen geschäftlichen Werdegang nicht unwichtig waren.

Bill Lawrence

Bill Lawrence

Über diese Framus-Geschichte habe ich Bill öfters getroffen. Meistens waren es eher anstrengende (und einseitige) Gespräche, da er am liebsten endlos über physikalische Formeln schwadronierte, denen ich mit meinem fundierten Halbwissen nur schwerlich oder gar nicht folgen konnte. Immerhin wusste er von unseren gezielten Pickup-Experimenten, was ihn wohl nachhaltig zu beeindrucken schien. Als überzeugter Theoretiker versuchte er dann, unsere Experimente doch etwas zu relativieren, indem er mal erwähnte, dass das Prinzip des Humbuckers bereits im Jahre1825 in Italien erfunden wurde, und zwar für ein seismologisches Instrument mit zwei gegenphasig arbeitenden Spulen zum Messen irgendwelcher Erdstöße. Ja, Bill Lawrence war physikalisch ganz weit vorn, und seine Pickups haben sicherlich einen Meilenstein in der Geschichte gesetzt.

Fundiertes physikalisches Wissen eben. Na ja, damit hat er zwar die Welt nicht verändert, aber die der Gitarristen in jenen Jahren doch schon zumindest ein kleines Stück. Chapeau!

Rockinger Lady

Rockinger Lady

Wir hatten uns gerade von „Atze’s Soundhouse“ in „Rockinger“ umbenannt. Das klang einfach professioneller und viel mehr nach „Marke“ – insbesondere in Anbetracht unserer diversen ureigenen Produkte. Aber auch, weil ich als Les-Paul-Junior-Fan auf die Idee kam, dieses eigentlich äußerst simple Gitarrenkonzept in ein eigenes Modell mit signifikantem Gesicht umzusetzen. Und ganz wichtig: das „Gesicht“ sollte weiblich sein.

In den Würzburger Zeiten hatte ich mal einen beim Herrn Benker erworbenen Höfner-Hals auf einen eigenen Body gebastelt, dessen untere Seite eine Art weibliche „Gesäß“-Form besaß. Die Bodyform habe ich dann per Kurvenlineal weiterentwickelt, genau wie den speziellen Halseinsatz, d.h. der Hals ragte fast bis zum Pickup in den Body und war wie eine Griffbrettverlängerung mit schickem Geipel-Schildpatt oder einem anderen bunten Zeugs, was wir später „LSD-2000“ nannten, abgedeckt. Die „Lady“ sollte außerdem ein praktisches Pickguard haben, auf dem unser P-90-Domino-Pickup und die Kontrollen unterzubringen waren. Was lag näher, als dieses Pickguard in Form einer weiblichen Brust zu designen. So ist sie entstanden, die Rockinger Lady. Immerhin war Carl Carlton der Erste, der diese Gitarre feierte und spielte!

Carl Carlton mit Rockinger Lady

Rockinger Lady im Katalog

Alsbald kam dann auch ein Lady-Modell mit Tremolo, dem neu aus dem Hause Rockinger entwickelten Vibromaster. Das funktionierte mit einer Druckfeder unter der Bodenplatte und war in zwei Schrauben gelagert.

Rockinger Lady mit Vibromaster