Framus is a German guitar, bass, lap steel guitars and banjo manufacturing company, that existed from 1946 until going bankrupt in 1975. The Framus brand was revived in 1995 as part of Warwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG in Markneukirchen (Germany).
- 1946: The foundation of 'Franconian Musical Instruments by Fred A. Wilfer KG in Erlangen, Germany to help resettle luthiers displaced from Schönbach (as of 1946, named Luby) in the Sudetenland.
- 1954: A larger factory is built in Bubenreuth, Germany to house the 300-strong workforce.
- 1967: Further expansion sees the building of a second facility in Pretzfeld, Germany.
- 1975: The rapidly changing market forces the company into bankruptcy.
- 1995: Framus musical instruments enter into production under Warwick GmbH & Co.
Framus originated in the town of Schönbach, today called Luby u Chebu in the area of Eger. The city at the foot of the Erzgebirge was shaped by the music. Violins and other string instruments have been manufactured and exported from Schönbach worldwide. There, in the Bohemian area, the founder of Framus, Fred Wilfer was born in 1917. After World War II, when he heard about the expulsion plans of the allied forces in his south eastern Germany homeland (which was probably soon becoming part of the Soviet Union), he decided to build up a new basis for his countryman and the music industry in the west.
Even before the first train was going to transport violin makers from Schönbach to other areas, Fred Wilfer contacted different government authorities in Bavaria and told them about his plans. The Bavarian government welcomed his plans and asked him to create all conditions needed for the settlement to Bavaria. For this reason he founded the "Franconian music production Fred Wilfer investment trust" (of which Framus is an acronym) in Erlangen on January 1, 1946. This factory became the central aim of the Schönbach violin makers.
When the first train transporting violin makers from Schönbach arrived in Erlangen he was the man in charge to find housing for them. He also made arrangements for the establishment of the first workshops.
In the 50s Paul McCartney owned a model of a Framus Ivor Mairants "Zenith" guitar. He had originally been given a trumpet for his 14th birthday in 1956 but he learned he could not possibly sing playing a trumpet so he swapped it for a Framus "Zenith" model 17. He used it to compose some of his first songs with it including "When I'm 64". It still hangs in his studio.
In March 1946 the first group of Schönbach violin makers arrived in Erlangen, with Fred Wilfer and the refugee commission arranging accommodations. A factory was set up in a former wheel warehouse in Möhrendorf in autumn 1946. At the end of 1948 the factory was moved to a former brewery in the near-by town of Baiersdorf. Soon, even this large space proved inadequate.
In late 1949 Bubenreuth became the center of settlement for the Schoenbach violin makers. There, Wilfer began building one of the most modern factories of the time, and in the summer of 1954 about 170 employees went to work at the new facility. With 2200 square meters of space at their disposal, they were soon producing more than 2000 instruments in a month.
The guitar - particularly the electric guitar - became the new bestseller. Sales increased enormously due to the popularity of rock and roll music at the end of the 1950s. Because of this development, several technologic advances were introduced (such as putting truss rods in guitar necks), and a second factory was built in Pretzfeld, 25 km north of Bubenreuth in the Franconian Switzerland, in 1966. Framus became the largest guitar producer in Europe, employing around 300 workers by the late 1960s.
The factory in Bubenreuth had been built with a musical kindergarden included. Supported by a young teacher, Frau Gertrud Fischer, a note-book was written which enabled children to start learning the musical notation system at the age of three. This was possible due to the development of little colored "note mans", which made it very easy to understand.
Visitors welcomed to the factory in Bubenreuth included the Vienna Saengerknaben (Boys Choir), who delivered a special concert in the Framus workshops, and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who toured the factory and its musical kindergarden during a visit to the violin-making-village.
In an interview Fred Wilfer summarized his all-embracing concept with the following words: It's not only important to produce instruments, over a long period it is important to "produce customers". This motto is found in other Framus projects, as well. Eventually the price dumping by companies from Japan along with other factors, both external and internal forced Framus into bankruptcy at the end of the 1970s.
Many aspects of the history of Framus are still in the dark. This is due to the bankruptcy of the company when almost the whole archives were lost.
As of 1995, musical instruments are again being produced again under the name Framus, the brand having been revived by Hans-Peter Wilfer (son of founder Fred Wilfer) as part of Warwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG in Markneukirchen (Germany). Along with a range of electric guitars, the company produces replacement parts (such as knobs, tuners, bridges, and tailpieces) for their vintage models, and a small range of high-end tube amplifiers which are used by Killswitch Engage, Simple Plan, Unearth, Dead To Fall, The Deer In Your Headlights, Deer Velvet, August Burns Red, Los Angeles guitarist Dale Hauskins, and many others.
The company produces its instruments and amplifiers using carbon-neutral principles. Wood is from sustainable sources (certified by the Forest Stewardship Council). The entire production process follows the regulations of the European Union's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, a voluntary program designed to continuously improve companies’ environmental performance.
In the early 1960s, Framus Star Bass guitars were among the first to be imported into Britain. Many of the early rock and roll British bass guitarists, including Jet Harris, Brian Locking, Heinz Burt, as well as Bill Wyman, played Framus basses. Wyman's connection was established in 1964 when the bassist signed a three-year sponsorship deal endorsing the "Framus Star Bass". Endorsers in the United States at this time were Charlie Mingus and Jim Hall.
- Lamb of God guitarist Willie Adler uses Framus 4 X 12 cabinets. In their DVD entitled Killadelphia, Willie gives praise to Framus for giving him "A backdrop to fuckin' die for."
- Dutch guitarist Jan Akkerman had a Framus signature model issued in 1974.
- Rik Emmett, of the Canadian Hard rock band Triumph, used an Akkerman signature model for several years prior to his Yamaha endorsement deal.
- Roy Estrada of the Mothers Of Invention used a Framus bass through most of 1968.
- Dave Hill of the British glam band, Slade, used a Framus made copy of his original John Birch Super Yob.
- John Lennon bought a Framus Hootenanny in 1965 which occasionally was played by George Harrison as well. Paul McCartney's first guitar was a Zenith (built by Framus on commission from Boosey & Hawkes), which he still owns.
- Billy Lorento (alias Bill Lawrence) has been associated with Framus since 1953.
- Bruce Palmer, bass guitarist for the Buffalo Springfield, played a Framus Star Bass during the infancy of the band, as well as used the Star Bass in his previous group, The Mynah Birds from Toronto.
- Denzil Warner Austin bass guitarist for the Everydudes and Herman The German first played a Framus bass purchased at the Vox Box in Marshall, Mo. in the early 70's.
- Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones had a Framus bass that is notable in most images and videos of the Rolling Stones from 1963 to 1968.
- Devin Townsend, uses a number of Framus guitars including several custom made guitars of the model AK-1974.
- Wolf Hoffmann, of the German Heavy Metal band Accept, uses a Framus signature guitar which is manufactured in 2 styles, a guitar in white called Flying V and the other one is in chrome and has been made to resemble a WWII bomber which is called Flying Fortress.
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- Miles, Barry, Many Years From Now, Vintage-Random House 1998, ISBN 0-7493-8658-4.
- "Review: Framus Earl Slick Signature Series Guitar: Video Available". Guitar World. October 2011. Retrieved October 2013.
- "Video: Devin Townsend on his Framus Guitar". Framus/Warwick. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
- "Video: AK1974 "Mandelbrot" for Devin Townsend". Framus/Warwick. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
- "Video: Devin Townsend AK1974". Framus/Warwick. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
- "ACCEPT's Wolf Hoffmann Unveils Made In Germany Signature Guitar At NAMM: Video Available". Bravewords.com. February 6, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
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- Fayyazi, Mohsen. "Legendary Wolf Hoffmann on Mohsen Fayyazi’s Burning Crown: "I’ve actually started work on new follow up material already"". MetalShockFinland.com. Retrieved 7 February 2013.