Perlgold Jazz, Max Heber, 1958
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- Order number: 711
Max Heber was one of the most renowned East German guitar makers and representative of the Markneukirchen tradition. He mainly built for F. & R. Enders (Goldklang brand) and Kurt Gropp (Perlgold brand). In 1961 he became a member of the state-owned VEB Sinfonia . Our guitar is one of his standard models, very typical with the bowed top and the body that is thicker in the middle, the Stauffer neck joint and the two-tone headstock and pickguard surfaces.
The top is made of massive spruce, the body is also made of massive maple, the back is very beautifully grained. The neck, including the headstock, is glued seven times lengthwise and has two light maple strips on the inside, three mahogany strips around it and two beech strips on the outside - very elaborately crafted. It has a rosewood fingerboard with creamy white celluloid inlays in six frets. This is also found on the headstock and pickguard, complemented by black overlays. Up to three-ply bindings around body, soundholes and neck. The tuners are beautifully chiselled, the lute-shaped tailpiece is an East German standard of the time. The whole guitar is of very high quality in every detail, typical for Heber, there was no sloppiness here.
This is remarkable because the guitar was the long-time companion of the "Three Toddys" (father Günther Hänel, children Iris and Gunnar), world-famous artists at the time, who had engagements in ice revues, e.g. in the USA (Holiday on Ice) and Paris (Lido). In 1974, Iris and Gunnar even won the figure skating world championship for the GDR. And the guitar was always with them! We were offered it by the son-in-law and gladly took it over. In the last few years it was no longer played and probably stored for a long time much too dry, because the massive spruce top had cracks. Otherwise, the guitar was remarkably well preserved, given its many journeys.
First, the guitar spent four weeks in our humid cellar at 80 degrees humidity, so that it could properly reaccumulate. Then we glued all the cracks in the top stable and permanently, and the top now sounds and vibrates perfectly again. Everything else was standard procedure: complete cleaning, blowing out the body, sanding the fingerboard and frets and oiling or polishing them. The varnish surfaces were polished, also the hardware was polished to a high gloss. Tuners refurbished and oiled. New strings fitted and setup done.
Basically, the Heber is another proof of how technically elaborate and perfect Markneukirchen guitar making was in the fifties and what high-quality materials were used. Visually too, it is a typical representative, with its three colours - cognac, cream white, black - very harmonious and noble. After the overhaul, it is now in top condition again and can be used immediately, everything is stable and firm again. The sound is well-rounded and harmonious, with a clean, crisp response and long sustain. Warm and woody sounds dominate. Playability is easy, thanks to the pleasant neck profile and the low string action. Playing marks are almost non-existent, the guitar probably always travelled very safely packed. One of the six tuner grips has been replaced and the back of the neck has two slight scratches at the height of the eighth and ninth frets, but they don't interfere with playing. Of course, the old top cracks, now neatly glued, are still somewhat visible. But this is still a 55 years young collector's item in top condition and at the same time a wonderful player - all this for a bargain price!
Overall length 41.3”/105 cm; body length 19.7”/50 cm; lower bout width 15.2”/38,5 cm; waist width 9”/23 cm; upper bout width 11”/28 cm; body depth 3”/7,5 cm at neck, 3.7”/9,3 cm at waist, 3”/7,5 cm at strap pin; scale length 25.2”/64 cm (zero fret to saddle), fingerboard width 1.6”/4,1 cm at nut, 2”/5,1 cm at 12th fret; overall weight 1.880 g, string action on 12th fret 0.08”/2 mm (adjustable).
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