Giveaways January 2015

January 15
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Musicon Valley: The Home of German Lutherie

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Framus Instrument Museum Markneukirchen

Opened in 2007, the Framus museum is located near the lutherie school in a building called Villa Brehmer that was completely reconstructed after standing empty for a decade. Rainfall and vacancy damaged the building, but Hans-Peter Wilfer, founder and owner of the Warwick company, bought it and established the museum. Wilfer is the son of Fred Wilfer, founder and owner of the Framus, which produced guitars from 1946 through the company’s 1970s bankruptcy. (Some models were reissued in 1995 under the Warwick umbrella.) Framus was Europe’s biggest guitar company in the 1960s. The museum displays over 200 instruments from the Framus era, including guitars, basses, banjos, lap steels, pedal steels, amps, and accessories. Museum director Andreas Egelkraut is a walking encyclopedia for all things Framus.
www.framus-vintage.de (English version available.)

Warwick factory and custom shop

Hans-Peter Wilfer was just 24 in 1982 when he founded Warwick in former Western Germany. In 1995, after German reunification, he relocated the company’s headquarters to Markneukirchen. The futuristic Warwick quarters are located in town’s industrial zone, just a stone’s throw from the former Musima building. Its lobby features a large showroom of Warwick and Framus guitars and basses. The facility relies on solar and wind power and is 100 percent carbon-neutral. The Big Kahunas of the factory tour are the custom shop wood supply, the ultra-modern, fully automatic fretting machine, and of course, the paint department.

I met Wilfer in his office to chat about his family’s history and connections to Markneukirchen. Wilfer has fond childhood memories of the Framus factory and was 16 when it closed, but he happily started his own bass company. Wilfer chose Markneukirchen as his place of business because of its affordable living and industrial zone, but he also has family ties to the area. “My father was born and raised right across the Czech border in Schönbach [present-day Luby],” Wilfer shares. “I live directly in Markneukirchen with my family and I really like to live here. My kids were born here and they’re real Markneukirchen natives—it’s a good and joyful place to live and work.”
www.warwick.de (English version available)

Luthiers of Interest:

Richard Jacob (Weissgerber)

Weissgerber founder Richard Jacob (1877-1960) is one of Markneukirchen’s brightest lutherie stars. After learning to build zithers, he started making guitars in 1899, qualifying as a master luthier in 1905. In 1921 he officially trademarked the Weissgerber name and built approximately 3,700 guitars under this label, the last ones reportedly in the year of his death. After he passed away, his son Martin Jacob took over the workshop and built guitars under the Weissgerber label, many with parts his father had created but never finished. Martin Jacob’s death in 1991 marked the end of the Weissgerber era. These guitars are highly collectible today, especially in the Japanese market. Weissgerber guitars were often experimental, using uncommon woods, double tops, and radical bracing patterns. Richard Jacobs’ widow, left the original workshop to the University of Leipzig when she died in 1989. For more information, the recently released book Weissgerber by Christof Hanusch details this luthier’s entire history (christofhanusch.com)
www.richardjacob-weissgerber.de (German language only.)
www.studia-instrumentorum.de/MUSEUM/weissgerber_inhalt.htm (German language only.)

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