Martin Graubner Jazz, 1955

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Instrument: Martin Graubner was one of the most recognized East German guitar makers and best... more
Martin Graubner Jazz, 1955

Martin Graubner was one of the most recognized East German guitar makers and best known for his Graubner-Rex jazz guitars. He built both in his own name and as a subcontractor for well-known trading houses such as Perlgold or Herrnsdorf. At the end of the fifties, he too was "integrated" into the socialist state production, but our guitar clearly dates from before that time and was probably made around 1955. It is a very typical representative of the East German, i.e. Markneukirchen jazz guitar style.

Massive spruce top, maple sides and back, the back elaborately made from one piece. Seven-fold bound neck, i.e. glued longitudinally from seven stripes including the headstock: Maple on the outside, pear on the inside and two dark mahogany stripes. The neck is typically bolted to the body using the Stauffer-Legnani system and fits perfectly. It has a rosewood fingerboard with creamy white celluloid inlays in six frets. The headstock face is also made of creamy white celluloid and has a black decoration strip. The pickguard is made of beautifully marbled pearloid, the bridge of black stained pearwood. Around the body, soundholes and neck there are thick bindings, some up to six-ply. In addition, open W.A.R.G. tuners and a solid tailpiece in the typical East German lyre shape.

Instruments history:
The guitar first belonged to a young woman, but in the early sixties she passed it on to her best friend, who played with her semi-professionally in a Radeberg or Langebrück band, style were German and also English Schlager - very brave in the GDR at that time! During this time, some modifications were made to the guitar, including the removal of the original pickguard and the installation of a neck pickup with a jack in the lower waist. However, this was missing again when the guitar was taken over and instead of the jack socket, there was a small hole. As so often, the priorities of the guitarist changed later and so the Graubner finally stood around unattended in a chamber for many years. Unfortunately, much too dry, so the solid top suffered some cracks... For reasons unknown to us, five of the six tuner grips were also missing. In 2022 the daughter of the lady offered us the Graubner and we gladly bought it, because such a beautiful instrument deserves to be restored!

Restoration work:
First, we stowed the guitar in our earthen cellar for a few weeks, where the bone-dry wood could slowly re-accumulate with moisture. After that, it looked much better already. We then professionally glued all the cracks in the top. The varnish surfaces were elaborately polished, the old holes for the GDR jack, original pickguard, neck pickup etc. were closed and retouched. Frets and fingerboard were stripped and polished or oiled. We disassembled, cleaned and re-oiled the tuners and added six matching grips from our sixties Kirschnek stock. That's also where the beautiful pickguard came from. Finally, we added a set of 11 gauge pyramid bronze strings and did a basic setup.

Current condition:
This beautiful Graubner is truly an eye-catcher. The overall appearance in brown and cognac tones, the beautiful color gradient, the clearly visible wood grain and the perfectly matching creamy white accents all add elegance. Of course, you can see some patina, a few playing marks, the glued cracks on the top - but it's not serious and overall the guitar is completely stable and resilient again. Top and back are slightly curved ("bowed top/back"), also a typical construction feature of the Schönbach or Markneukirchen school. The sound offers old wood, is warm, mellow and at the same time open, fast responding and with a lot of sustain. This is a nice collectible from East German production as well as an affordable player with lots of vintage flair and everything that makes an early post-war strumming guitar.

Overall length 106 cm/41.7”; body length 51 cm/20.1”; lower bout width 38,5 cm/15.2”; waist width 23,5 cm/9.3”; upper bout width 29,5 cm/11.6”; body depth 7 cm/2.8” at neck, 8,8 cm/3.5” at waist, 7,5 cm/3” at lower bout; scale length 64 cm/25.2” (zero fret to saddle); fingerboard width 4,1 cm/1.6” at nut, 5,1 cm/2” at 12th fret; overall weight 1.930 g; string action at 12th fret 2-3 mm/0.08-0.12”, adjustable.

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