The Bluesbox Collection

1970's Framus Model 5/5U Archtop

The best word I can think of to describe this guitar is "cute". It is one of the smallest bodied archtops I have ever seen (13" on the lower bout). This close-up of the face shows the the massive floating bridge (made entirely of plastic, by the way) with individually adjustable saddles. The body appears to be made from laminated maple as is the 3-piece neck, which is extremely thin and has an adjustable truss rod installed. The fingerboard is rosewood. The back continues the "tan-burst" theme. The peg head is curiously unadorned, though the brass truss rod cover looks really sharp. One of the most unusual features of this instrument is the rosewood nut.

Framus, which went into business in Germany in 1945 and closed in 1975, was one of the few really successful European guitar manufacturers - having opened for business during the occupation after WWII, they took advantage of the US soldiers interest in popular music. Some of the famous musicians who regularly used Framus guitars in their early careers were Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and John Lennon. In the 70's, Framus marketed a line of solid body electric guitars that sold fairly well in the US, but they were eventually driven out of business by the German economy and Oriental competition. In the early 1990's the son of the founder revived the family business and manufactured the very well thought of Warwick basses.

Dating this particular guitar presented quite a conundrum. I originally assumed from the condition of the instrument that it is from the later (1990's) period of the company. The metal parts (tailpiece and tuners) show almost no oxidation at all and the finish has only two minor dings around the edges of the back. But then I found out that the latter incarnation of the company only manufactured solid-body guitars and basses. I have to believe that if this guitar was from the 70's, that it was put away somewhere and rarely played for many years. In fact the only sign of age I could find is the usual flattening out of the arch under the bridge. The condition of this (I figure at least) 27 year old instrument is truly remarkable.

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