Museum: Other Acoustic Guitars

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c.1900 Holzapfel & Beitel

Carl Holzapfel and Clemence Beitel's instruments were built in Baltimore, Maryland in and around the turn of the last century. The pair is most noted for their 12 string flat tops - instruments that are today prized by musicians for their tone, and are widely considered the best of their ilk ever built. Neil Harpe authored an interesting article on the pairs' instruments for issue 11 of The Fretboard Journal (Fall 2008), and we encourage anyone interested in the history of Holzapfel guitars to give it a read.

Despite how highly sought after these instruments are, there really isn't too much known about their makers. Carl Holzapfel emigrated from Germany to the US in the late 1800's, and found work making instruments first with Zoerner, and later H.A. Weymann & Son, in Philadelphia before he and Beitel opened shop on their own. Beitel, a native of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, learned guitar building while employed at C.F. Martin & Co. The pair met while working at F.H. Griffith -- the company they would later buy and rebrand with their own names. Holzapfel and Beitel built instruments together until 1904, when Beitel left the business. (Thanks, again, to Mr. Harpe for his FBJ-published research, paraphrased above).

The instrument offered here is a 6 string, smaller-bodied Holzapfel & Beitel flat top. At 13-3/8" wide, the guitar is roughly the dimensions of a Martin size 0. Back and sides are Brazilian rosewood, the top is red spruce. The ivory-bound body is accentuated with colorful half-herringbone purflings and a matching rosette. V-shaped mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, 24.9" scale, 1-7/8" nut width. Waverly tuning machines, ebony bridge, shellac finish. The guitar is original but for newer bone nut and saddle and replacement bridge pins.

The instrument is in good playing order after having been set up in our shop. Previous to Folkway the neck was reset, a few braces relgued, and a number of cracks were repaired -- two on the back, and a pair on the top on either side of the fingerboard extension. The workmanship of the older repairs isn't top notch, but the guitar is structurally up to snuff, and is in need of no further repair.

Excellent tone, very full through the mids, classic ladder-braced attack, but with the added bonus of a warm and open bass register. We have it set up with John Pearse Phosphor Bronze and Silk 12-53 strings, which bring out the best of this instrument.

With hardshell case



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