If you’re interested in German guitar brands, this post is for you!
I’m not an expert on German guitar brands, but I have played the guitar since 2003 and know a thing or two about the instrument.
And I actually first came across the German guitar brand, Duesenberg, when researching electric mando-guitars.
Ever since then, I knew I wanted to write a post about them.
Let’s get to it!
Currently Active Big-Name Brands
Duesenberg is a Hanover-based brand that’s been around since 1986. In fact, they’re probably the biggest German guitar manufacturer. They’re also part of a bigger company called Göldo Music GmbH.
Although a German brand, they’ve also opened up a branch in California. But the guitars remain the same. These are all high-end instruments. Hardware, wood, pickups, and every single part is designed and manufactured with great care.
Duesenberg is most famous for its hollow-body and semi-hollow-body guitars. However, they also have some awesome solid-body designs. And they also manufacture some amps and pedals.
No matter the model, their guitars are vintage-oriented. In fact, they all look like they came from a 1960s alternate reality.
In the video below, you can check out how these guitars sound in action.
You probably know of Framus for their guitar hardware. However, they’re also an old guitar manufacturer, dating back to 1946. Until going under in 1975, they made some great acoustic and electric guitars.
In 1995, Hans-Peter Wilfer, who’s the son of founder Fred Wilfer, revived Framus. These days, they’re back in business and have some really good guitars to offer. They’re also a subsidiary of Warwick.
In most cases, these are mid to high-priced instruments. The cheaper models are made in China. But their higher-end guitars are all from Germany. For instance, the Masterbuilt series is handcrafted. And these are pretty awesome pro-level instruments with some beautifully aesthetic qualities.
Here’s the Masterbuilt Pantera II model.
Höfner is one of the longest-running instrument brands of all time. They’ve been around since 1887. But they’re probably best known for their violin-shaped 500/1 basses that Paul McCartney plays.
These days, they manufacture bowed instruments, bows, classical guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. As for electric guitars, most models are hollow or semi-hollow-body instruments. And in fact, one of the series is all small-bodied travel guitars.
Aside from these small solid-body guitars, their instruments can get pretty expensive. Nonetheless, these are all pro-level guitars mostly intended for blues and jazz.
Here’s one of their old models from the 1960s.
Hoyer is another old brand, taking us all the way back to 1874. In the earliest days, they manufactured lutes and zithers. Hoyer then shifted to classical and folk acoustic guitars.
During the mid-20th century, they started manufacturing archtop acoustic guitars. Some of these eventually came with pickups. Over the coming decades, they also started focusing on solid-body electric guitars.
These days, their main focus is on acoustic guitars. This includes both nylon-string and steel-string Western instruments. And they also have a line of ukuleles.
If you’re into nylon-string classical guitars, then Hopf is a brand worth checking out. Sure, they also make steel-string guitars, mandolas, and mandolins. But their main focus is on classical guitars.
And you should also bear in mind that these are high-end instruments. Some of the models reach astronomical prices, going way past the $10,000 USD mark. However, they also make some more affordable student models and even ukuleles.
As for their steel-string Western-style guitars, they currently offer only four models. All four of them are the jumbo body variant.
Hopf is a brand with a very long tradition. Their roots go back to the 17th century. They were originally known as violin makers and the earliest traceable instrument builder of the family is Caspar Hopf. Today’s owner is Caspar’s direct descendant.
Lakewood is a brand that’s been around since 1986 and they’re still very active today. We’re looking at a brand that manufactures acoustic guitars. It’s also reported that they manufactured other string instruments, although this is currently not the case.
Martin Seeliger is the founder of Lakewood and is still the company owner. What’s important to note is that we’re looking at small-size manufacturing.
The company now has standardized models. The production isn’t that big, but it’s still far from a one-man business.
Aside from making guitars, they offer support. If you get a used one, you can officially register the instrument in their database. This provides you with the necessary help in case you need any.
Legendary Defunct Brands
Some would call them obscure at this point. However, Musima was a pretty big deal in East Germany. The guitar business was a bit different under the Iron Curtain. Nonetheless, Musima guitars are pretty popular in some collector circles.
The company started back in 1952 in the town of Markneukirchen. This whole region is known for instrument builders. Musima was a way to put a lot of them together and manufacture guitars. At their peak in the 1980s, Musima manufactured 360 guitars per day.
Musima guitars are favored for their unusual twists to Western instrument designs. And these were pretty good instruments for the price. With so many guitars in circulation, you can find a lot of Musima models on the used market today.
But Hüttl guitars, on the other hand, can get fairly expensive these days. At least for the old used and somewhat obscure guitars. However, Hüttl was from West Germany, so their guitars were closer to standard American ones.
The founder, Wolfgang Hüttl, started the brand in 1946. They operated until 1983, manufacturing different acoustic and electric guitars and basses. The electrics were all hollow-body models, very similar to those classic old Gibsons and Epiphones.
Some models, like the Opus 61, had more unique designs. They also had tremolo bridges similar to the Bigsby design and an unusual Folkamp solid-body model with a built-in amplifier. You can check it out in the player below.
An old brand established in the 19th century, Otwin later became a subsidiary of Musima. However, for quite a while they manufactured acoustic guitars on their own. And you will find that a lot of their acoustics had the parlor body shape.
Later on, in the early 1970s, it became a line of electric guitars under Musima. There were plenty of Ottwin electric guitar models. However, it’s kind of hard to keep track of the exact models they did. There’s a lot of weird stuff available on the market.
These days, you can find some of their guitars from the 1950s and the 1960s. And they’re usually somewhere between $500 and $1000. According to users, these pre-Musima Otwin guitars are actually pretty good instruments.
Another old German family business, Klira was a string instrument brand that worked between 1887 to 1982. They introduced acoustic and electric guitars sometime in the 1950s.
And even to this day, you can find some of these instruments on the used market. Just like most of these old German brands, they mostly focused on hollow-body archtops. But there have been some thinline and solid-body models.
To me, what’s especially interesting are their Fender Strat and offset copies. Some of these Klira solid-body electric guitars can go for over $1000.
Here’s a more detailed video on one of their solid-body guitars.
Artur Lang was one of Germany’s finest luthiers. He started making hollow-body electric guitars in the 1950s. His brand is not that famous. However, vintage guitar enthusiasts are very fond of them. These days, old Artur Lang guitars can be really expensive.
Sure, they’re rare. But he made each guitar by hand. And these are all custom-built instruments. There’s one basic single-cutaway body shape with different modifications to it.
They also have very large bodies and some unusual yet very stylish details. All of his guitars can be recognized by the specially designed bindings on the body sides. It’s nothing over the top, but it adds to their unique style.
I’m not sure if some of the super-high prices are justified. However, these are incredibly good guitars. If you happen to stumble upon one, you’ll notice the high-end manufacturing quality and an incredible resonant tone. Here’s how one of these old guitars sounds many decades later.
Oscar Teller started building guitars way back in 1929. But it was in 1948 that he moved to Bavaria and continued to improve his work.
To my knowledge, the company has a long tradition but is no longer active. Oscar Teller passed away in 1961, but Teller continued.
What you should bear in mind is that Oscar Teller and Tellson guitars come from the same source. Tellson is just sort of a “sub-brand” of the company that Oscar Teller started. It also changed its name over the decades.
The company mostly became famous for its hollow-body archtop jazz guitar. In case you stumble upon one, they aren’t cheap.
German Guitar Brands: Conclusion
I hope this article has given you a bit of useful information about some of the German guitar brands making instruments today and some that are defunct as well!
And if you have any further questions about this or another guitar topic, please let me know in the comments!
Hi! In year 1982 German singer Nicole won Eurovision song contest with sing “Ein bißchen Friede”.
She sang and played a white acoustic dreadnought-bodied 12-string guitar, marked Melody.
Was Melody a German guitar?
I personally love playing 12-string guitar and its shimmering tone too.
That’s an interesting question! I’ve done a bit of looking around online and haven’t found an obvious answer yet. That said, the guitar she played both looked and sounded beautiful! If you or someone else finds out, post it here in the comments!
Hi Esa, ich weiß nicht, wie alt Dein Post ist – ich habe ihn heute gefunden…
Melody war in den 60er Jahren eine italienische Marke mit Sitz in der Nähe des Ortes Recanati – von dort kamen die Instrumente der bekannteren Marke “eko”. Teilweise waren die Instrumente mit der gleichen Hardware ausgestattet und auch die Bauweise war sich recht ähnlich. Ich besitze noch heute eine dieser 12-saitigen Gitarren – allerdings keine weiße, sondern eine “naturfarbene”.
Thanks for sharing your insight here!
Thank you for this article. The embedded sound/video clips made it more informative and engaging.
That’s our hope.
I‘m surprised not to see Lakewood mentioned here. They make some superb instruments, and are played by some world renowned artists.
I’ll look into adding them!
You’ve overlooked Oscar Teller classical guitars and Tellson (Teller & son) acoustic archtop jazz guitars. The Teller family were violin makers for generations before Oscar began making guitars in 1931. By 1957 he had settled in Bubenreuth, Germany, and built Tellson Guitars there with his son Horst who eventually took over the business. Horst’s sons and grandsons Harals and Wolfgang soon joined the family business to become Tellson luthiers themselves. I own a mid-Sixties Tellson Nr. 10/S Acoustic Archtop Jazz Guitar. I’ve never seen any other models of Tellson Guitars myself. They do look very similar to Framus.
Hi….writing to you about a classical guitar I came across and eventually bought failrly cheap. On the headstock is written Germany West. It looks (and even smells…lol) very old. I did have to reattach the bridge and it turned out pretty good. Sounds decent. Do you know or have any info of the “Germany West” brand classical guitar…I can’t find any info on the web about them. If needed I can supply a pic of the guitar. Thanks for any info you can provide.
Thanks for compiling this collection and information.
I wonder if you are aware that Hohner also makes a range of acoustic guitars called the “Essential Roots Series” which fits stylistically in with their century old Blues Harp connection.
I have played guitars since the age of 12, first in Hamburg and for the last 48 years in Australia. I have owned only one very fine 1960 German master built classical guitar by Helmuth Hanika, but as for acoustic steel strings, I’m into Taylor, PRS, Australian Tasman, a Gretsch Dobro and a Highway 61 Metal body.
But my go-to-guitar is that sweet little Hohner 00, dark sunburst Spruce top, Mahogany back and sides from the Essential Roots Collection…It is based on a 1931 Gibson 00 “Bluesbox” with focussed midrange balance, as played by the original masters of the day, like Robert Johnson. The Hohner website for “Essential Roots Series” shows different configurations and finishes…noted is the compensated nut, which I have never seen on any other guitar.
The link to the “Essential Roots Series”
That’s really cool! I didn’t know about the Essential Roots Series. Maybe I can work this information into the article. Thanks so much for sharing!