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Can anyone help identify this vintage 12 string guitar?

My son just bought a vintage 12 string at a small music store in our town. He loves the sound and we have been trying to identify the brand of guitar. It does not have any labels or identifying marks. The tail piece has engraved "Made in Germany" and I think it is only identifying the tail piece.

I have seen this tail piece on various vintage guitars and pretty sure it is made by Gotz (based on this example: http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-tailpiece-12-string-g...) but mine is "Made in Germany" not W. Germany.

Does this look familiar to anyone?
Click here for more pictures (this opens a slide show on photobucket.com. sorry I did not know how to post them here): http://s816.photobucket.com/user/barrydollar/slideshow/Vintage%2012...

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Looks like a 60's Hofner.

It's a Hofner 490 Series Arizona Model.

The Numbers Change a Little 490, 491 etc.

Selmer had their System of Model Numbers.

With X Bracing and a Three Piece Neck it's a 68.

With Ladder Bracing and a Steel Nut Fitted it's a 69.

The Neck Rake Adjustment System was first used in 68.

But the Metal Collar is missing from the Neck Screw Hole.

There should be Extra Block under the Fingerboard Extension.

A Hidden Adjustment Device lies there and possibly a Vertical Bolt.

The Adjustable Bridge, Tailpiece and Scratchplate are Later Modifications.

Or it was Originally Fabricated from Available Parts not to Catalogue Specification.

Given Year Models, can Differ in Appointments, but Keep their Assigned Model Number.

So the Overall Range of Models can stay the same, but Change in Style due to Market Fashions.

From 68 -72, Expensive Models Alone with Abalone Inlays on the Fretboard, used Adjustable Bridges.

A 1968 Hofner 490 Series Arizona Model, Subsequently Modified or Manufactured to Non Catalogue Specification.

 

Happy New Year!

 

P

Peter,

Thank you so much! I am amazed at how knowledgeable you are about this guitar. Much appreciated!

Barry

Extensive gallery of Hofner models, with several examples of 490 here: http://www.vintagehofner.co.uk/vintagehofner/flattops/flat.html.  Some earlier models had a tailpiece, but apparently not 490.  Also includes dis-assembled photos of the neck tilt system, which is interesting.

This is great, thanks for sharing it!

I am still wondering about the tail piece. Might have been ordered that way. It is stamped with "made in Germany". Or someone change it later as Peter suggested. I know I can't seem to find any pictures with the same set-up.

Thank you for that Link Ian.

There is within it, additional information to differentiate the 68 and 69 Models.

Although I had the Bracing and Nut Difference, other Differences include a Two Piece Neck on the 69, a Pinless Bridge, an Extra Fret and a Scratch Plate Logo.

So that's well worth Knowing, Except for this Cautious Proviso. The Internet Sites Dedicated to such Information were Created, Long, Long, After these Guitar had Ceased to be Manufactured and Marketed.

So use a Tiny Pinch of Salt. For instance, Two Piece Necks were more Common on the 6 String Model, the Extra Fret came and went with Mysterious Ease, rather like the Scratch Plate Logo, and who heard of a J-45 Style with a Pinless Bridge?

Hofner's History bedazzles with such Stars of Wonderment. There can be Problems Differentiating between Certain Models of their Range, Particularly as Hofner seems to have Continually Revised the Detail Cosmetics of  Some Models over the Years. So Realise, even The Official Hofner Site, is in Instances, Incorrect.

But the Genuinely Honest, amongst Great Enthusiast Internet Sites, freely admit that their Available Information is Comparatively Limited, Very Partial, and Purely Based Upon Pictures and Information Supplied by Owners of the Few Examples they have been able to Piece Together as a Labour of Love, Relative to Other Manufacturers.

Its Altogether Too Easy to Presume, Extrapolate and Hypothesise on the Basis of a Line of Information that is Inconsistent, Strewn with Gaping Holes, and Thereby Arrive at Wholly Historically Incorrect Conclusions. This can Happen, even without realising it, simply by Presumption and Implication, quite Innocently, and with the Best of Intentions.

In point of fact, by this time in Europe, Italian Made Guitars were already poised to Dominate the UK and European Market. Indeed, the Largest Manufacturer, their Factories also fabricating Accordion's, were utterly decimating German Made Popular Musical Instrument Sales, just prior to the Rising Wave of Introduction, of Consistently Improving, High Quality, Oriental Products.

So here in the U.K. Hofner were largely known for their long existing Quality Arch Top Jazz Guitars, Hollow Bodied, Thinline Semi-Acoustics, Club and Violin Instruments, rather than their Acoustic Guitars of this period, which given the Quality of their Premium Models, is Rather a Shame. Though it's fair to say at the Budget End, which the Original Posters Guitar is an Example of from their Range. The Competition was Hot.

In fact, very few Hofner Acoustics ever had Tailpieces. They were generally Older, Relatively Cheap Models, because it's far easier and cheaper to fit a Tailpiece (of which they had many bought in Great Bulk with all the Arch Body Electrics they made, now on the wane) with a Simple Movable Bridge on a Budget Guitar than Fabricate Correct Instrument Geometry, Correctly Intonated via a  Properly Fitted Pinned Bridge with an Underlying Bridge Plate. For this reason, the very few Older Guitars that did have Tailpieces, had Better, Fancier Tailpieces, than anyone had a right to expect at the Price.

But with respect, not in my Experience, the Type fitted to the Guitar, which is the Topic of this Thread. The Premium of Cost for what is a very Basic Function, would have been Prohibitive. It simply would have not made sense to use a One Off, Third Party, Specialist Product, when Copious Supplies, Purchased at Bulk Supply Discounts, and Specifically Designed to Uniquely Demarcate the Hofner Brand, were At Hand and Readily Available at the Factory. Although today, Part Suppliers are readily available for almost anything you want. Many Decades Ago, this simply wasn't the case, and so the Available, After Market Choices were Extremely Limited. The reason this Gotz (A Violin Specialist Parts Supplier Today) was fitted, (The Part could have been Made by a Third Party and Branded Gotz), is most probably because it was the Only 12 String Tailpiece, that whoever fitted it could Readily Source. 6 String Jazz Models would have been much more widely available, but 12 String Tailpieces, rather harder to obtain in most Locales, and the Choice, strictly limited, the part typically having laid in Retail Draws for a very long time indeed. As I recall, the Gotz were supplied wrapped with Tissue Paper in Yellow Rectangular Boxes with White Borders on the Edges. Funny what sticks in the mind after Decades isn't it? After WWII Gotz went through some Cold War Trials, eventually Resettling in West Germany along with many Refugee Craftsman from Bohemia and East Germany as a New Center of the German Music Industry developed. It was these Makers that Gotz largely Supplied to, years ago, gradually becoming Distributed Further Abroad as a Parts Supplier. More Recently they have Returned to their Former Premises on Germany near the Czech Border.

Have a Look at this lot below. It will explain my opening Comments. Furthermore includes Four Different 12 String Thinline Archtop Electric Guitars. None of which use the Gotz Tailpiece of the Original Post.

So No Acoustic or Electric Models are Catalogued Featuring that Tailpiece that I am aware of.

http://www.vintagehofner.co.uk/gallery/gallery2/arch.html

 

 

Please be careful in regard to the Neck Rake System.

There are examples on the Internet and indeed Diagrams purporting to helpfully Disclose the Mechanisms Design.

This is Excellent, always provided that the Instrument you are Actually Dismantling is in fact, Manufactured to Exactly that Design.

I believe it could be wrong to Assume that is the Case, and that there are Definite Variants on the Design Concept, Fitted to Different Models at Different Time Periods.

Some have Extra Glued in Wood Sections with the Neck Rake Adjustment Hook in between them and on top of the Neck Block, Others (normally Jazz Guitars) have Excellent Sloping Graduations by Design.

Thus, should you Dismantle the Neck Body Joint. I would Strongly Re-Emphasise the Detail in my Previous Post that mentions just the Possibility of any Additional Hidden Element. A Covert Protrusion I have seen, at least once in my life, providing me with Considerable Consternation.

Here's some Pic's.

Dreadnought Rake Adjustment.

http://www.vintagehofner.co.uk/gallery/flattops/ftop49.html

Hollowbody Archtop Jazz Rake Adjustment.

http://www.vintagehofner.co.uk/gallery/archtops4/arch20.html

There are other types I cannot seem to pin down so..

 

Take Care, Be Safe and God Bless You All!

 

Happy New Year.

 

P

If the tail-piece is stamped Made in Germany could it be a replacement?  A unified Germany did not exist from 1945-1989 so exports would be stamped either East or West. 

Steve

Yes that is what I wondered too. I found a picture of another tailpiece that looked like this one but it was stamped "Made in West Germany". I'm sure if this Guitar could talk it would have a story to tell...

Quote: "If the tail-piece is stamped Made in Germany could it be a replacement?" 

 

 

Steve.

It's not part of the Instrument as it was Originally Designed.

But added later, possibly as a Result of Necessary Work being done to the Bridge of the Guitar.

 

 

Quote: "A unified Germany did not exist from 1945-1989  so exports would be stamped either East or West."

 

  

This is a Good Guide.

As Long as You take it, purely as a Statement that is a General Truth.

But is not Strictly Correct in Absolute Terms, as Certain East German (GDR) Companies were using "Made in Germany" Stamps on their Products right up till 1972.

1973, the German Supreme Court made a ruling that "Made in Germany" does not enable people to properly distinguish between the two Germanys of the time, so "Made in West Germany" and "Made in GDR" became popular.

The Gotz Company experienced a Lot of Political Interference after WWII based where it was and decided to flee East Germany and set themselves up again in West Germany, until later, eventually Relocating Back Again following Germany's Reunification.

You have to bear in mind, whether for Very Small Components, (whether Branded or even if they were made by Third Parties), such Changes would have been desirable or quickly possible at the start, Changing Tooling and Processes, and whether it could have been Instantly Afforded and indeed Executed by Absolutely Everyone later, in a Nation that had Essentially Been Almost Completely Reconstructed, from the Ground Upward.

In point of fact, Historically, "Made in Germany" is a Merchandise Mark, Originally Introduced in the 19th Century by Great Britain to Clearly Mark Foreign Produce. Foreign Manufacturers had been Falsely Marking Inferior Goods with the Marks of Renowned British Manufacturing Companies and Importing Them into the United Kingdom. Most of these were found to be Originating from Germany, whose Government had introduced a Protectionist Policy to Legally Prohibit the Import of Goods in Order to build up Domestic Industry. (That is according to Oxford University Sources). But this is Why the Mark Exists!

The Tailpiece would have been made before 1973 and Stamped "Made in Germany" for the reasons above.

 

 

 

P

Peter,

Thank you for all this information. Your knowledge on this subject is much appreciated. I believe you have thoroughly identified my son's guitar and provided a great education for us to contemplate.

God Bless you as well,

Barry

It would be interesting to stick a mirror inside and look at the bridge plate.  If it is an after-market modification, maybe they didn't change the bridge plate - in which case it may show the original bridge pin holes. 

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