I had an interesting archtop come in for some work but it has no labeling or numbers. I'm guessing it's German, circa 50's but have not found anther example exactly like it on the internet.

It has screw holes from a pick guard that it once wore, now missing. The electronic controls through the top are not original and if it had pick ups originally, the controls would in all likely hood have been mounted in the pick guard. Not sure about the pickups yet but if they are mounted in a crudely cut hole, that would also indicate that they are non-original. The tuner buttons are Brass and appear to have been added at some point.

Anyone recognize this model?

The hole in the back is a crude access hole to the electronics.

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Some work?

Have you been to this website:

Those pick ups and surrounds look old enough to be contemporaneous with the guitar. Interesting lack of frets at the end of the fingerboard.


My hunch would be that it is a HERRNSDORF, an East German trader in Musical Instruments from 1865.

But an Instrument from the Fifties when they were specialising in Archtop Guitars. One that had been later modified and updated by an "enthusiast" to "improve" it.

Some Models do not appear to have a Brand Marque Name whilst others do, but the ones that do, do not then use a Marque always appearing in the same location on the Instrument, so are harder to identify because of this. The Brand later merged with Musima in the early Seventies.

The Tailpiece (although also commonly used on German Perlgold Guitars), Original Machine Head Parts, Peculiar F Hole Shape, Fingerboard Inlays, and seemingly non functional Large Fingerboard Extension are all characteristic of specific and particular HERRNSDORF Archtop Models.

The Fingerboard Extension on some (not all) hide a "Secret Pickup" Assembly, (but not a Transducer) rather, a Magnetic Pickup made by Rellog in East Germany. This was a square shaped metal fitment that was located unseen in the unused area. Some include this feature, others have the Extension but not the Secret Pickup.

The Jack Socket to the Amplifier could be located in the underside of the Fingerboard, as sometimes the wiring went to the Large Scratchplate with Fitted Single Volume Pot, or the Socket could be elsewhere on the Body dependant on Model. Many Models even had Dual Banana Sockets mounted in the Heel Cap of the Neck especially for the Secret Pickup. This ghastly feature must be refelectively considered historically against the popularity and availability of this Type of Plug during this period, in this Eastern European somewhat "Cold War"location.

One other characteristic on certain Models you should be aware of, is the Single Bolt Neck Joint for Easy Resetting, which not well implemented, gradually comes loose, with disquieting ease. I would expect the Bolt  (should there be one) to be located directly in line with the unfortunate crack in the side. The Gretsch Style Strap Button is another "User Improvement".

The Strap would be have been expected to locate under the Fingerboard Extension between it and the body, around in a loop.

It may well have originally been a strait forward and good sounding Acoustic Jazz Guitar.

But unfortunately not left and loved simply for what it was.


Looks like a variant of Musima Record. There was also a variant by Herrnsdorf and variant by Meinel & Herold guitars.


Meinel & Herold:

Musima Record:

With these low-end communist-era guitars you never know what it is unless there's a decal somewhere. They were changing the designs and layouts constantly. They are considered slightly cheesy among hi-end enthusiasts, but nevertheless arcthops can be solid, because they were built more traditionally and used extensively in polka/Oberkrainer bands (like the stuff Yankovich played in the US). This is where Framus had forged it's fame.

Thanks all, there is some good information here.

Joshua, "Some work"? Not sure yet how much, I'll be putting together a hit list for the current owner. I was unaware of the euroguitar website, thanks for the link!

I do know that this was a working instrument, owned by a member of Big Daddy Sun and the Outer Planets, a rockabilly band trying to make a name in the 80's. I have no idea as to it's provenance prior to this or who did the improvements(?) to it. It's owner recently passed away and a good friend of his ended up with it. The current owner has been in the studio recording business since the 70's He has acquired tons of vintage instruments, amps, microphones and other equipment that he makes available to his clients. He calls it his petting zoo. I have worked on other pieces for him and generally do no more than required to make a reliable player.

Peter, good stuff here thanks for your post. The Herrnsdorf theory is compelling with the similarities. The fret-less fingerboard extension on this guitar does not has the integrated pickup you mention.

Tadej, thanks for the links!

I may never be sure of an exact model but there seems to be agreement that it is of German origin.

 Here you go...

east german axe

Paul, you gotta look at that link. They show the neck block with the neck off. It's a bolt on!


I just spent some time with this guitar and I quickly decided no reasonable spending would make this guitar a player again.

The neck block crack and, well, all over the neck heel cavity are smeared with epoxy mixed with saw dust. The crack is wedged open with the stuff. The neck is forward bowed with a rising fingerboard extension and also has a twist, plus fret work, plus the stuff I haven't looked at yet.... I decided that was more than enough. Too bad for this one but it will still look good hanging on the owner's studio wall.

Thanks for the help figuring out the instruments possible origins, it's owner will be interested to hear what I have found out.

This was an interesting thread. I'm sorry it turned out like this.

Hi Kerry,

Yes, would have been an interesting project as well. Turns out, the owner still wants me to do just enough to be able to play some simple chords on it. Won't be much more than flattening out the neck pocket reasonably and making a shim for  best neck angle, bridge adjustment, a screw on cover for the hole in the back and some strap buttons.

It would be a good project for someone doing there own work but is well over the top to make this a great player again and pay someone to do it.


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