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Industry String instruments
Founded Schönbach, Germany (1946; 69 years ago (1946))
Founder Fred Wilfer
Defunct 1975-1995
Headquarters Markneukirchen, Germany
Area served
Products Violins
Double basses
Classical, archtop, acoustic and electric guitars
Lap & pedal steel guitars
Acoustic & electric basses
Electric upright basses
Owner Hans-Peter Wilfer
Divisions Warwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG
Subsidiaries Giannini Drums
Website Framus Vintage website
Framus International website

Framus is a German string instrument 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. Their headquarters and custom shops are located in Markneukirchen, Shanghai, New York City, and Nashville.


  • 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 Music Equipment KG.


Early years[edit]

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. In 1946 he founded the FRAMUS works... the name being an acronym of FRAnconian MUSical instruments and designed to draw attention to the fact that the celebrated violin makers of Schönbach had made Franconia their new home.

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 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 nearby town of Baiersdorf. Soon, even this large space proved inadequate.

In late 1949 Bubenreuth became the center of settlement for the Schönbach 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.

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 Sixty-Four". It still hangs in his studio.

The company included a musical kindergarten in the Bubenreuth factory. Supported by a young teacher, Gertrud Fischer and a book that used little, colored "note men" that helped children start learning musical notation at the age of three.

Visitors 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 kindergarten 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.

Framus today[edit]

In 1995, Hans-Peter Wilfer (son of founder Fred Wilfer) revived the Framus name to produce musical instruments 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.

The company produces its instruments and amplifiers using carbon-neutral principles.[1][2][3] It gets all the electricity it needs through its own natural-gas-powered plant, solar roof-mounted facilities, a boiler fueled by wood waste from its guitars and through wind power.[2][4] Wood is from sustainable sources (certified by the Forest Stewardship Council).[5] 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.[6]

Notable users[edit]

Framus Earl Slick model, Anaheim NAMM show, 2013

In the early 1960s, Framus Star Bass guitars were among the first bass guitars imported into Britain. Many of the early rock and roll British bass guitarists—including Jet Harris, Brian Locking, Brian Gregg, Heinz Burt, and Bill Wyman—played Framus basses. In 1964, Wyman signed a three-year sponsorship deal endorsing the Framus Star Bass.[7][8] Endorsers in the United States at this time were Charlie Mingus and Jim Hall.

Further reading[edit]

Hoyer, Christian. Framus – built in the heart of Bavaria: the history of a German musical instrument manufacturer 1946–1977. Edition Framus, Markneukirchen 2007, ISBN 978-3-940448-01-9.


  1. ^ "Climate Partner Database". ClimatePartner GmbH. Retrieved November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Wacker, Dirk (January 16, 2014). "Musicon Valley: The Home of German Lutherie". Premier Guitar. Retrieved February 2015. 
  3. ^ Herrera, Jonathan (September 30, 2013). "Warwick Bass Camp 2013: The Best of the Bass". Premier Guitar. Retrieved November 2013. 
  4. ^ Hromadko, Jan (March 2, 2014). "German Companies Take Back the Power". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  5. ^ "FSC Certificate Database". Forest Stewardship Council. Retrieved November 2013. 
  6. ^ "EMAS Registration Database". European Union/Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. Retrieved November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Bill Wyman". Framus Vintage Archive. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  8. ^ "'Framus - known all over the world'". Framus Vintage Archive. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c
  10. ^ Miles, Barry. Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. Vintage-Random House 1998, ISBN 0-7493-8658-4.
  11. ^ Moseley, Willie G. (November 2002). "Philip Campbell - Decibel Level Be Damned". Vintage Guitar. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ Derrough, Leslie Michele (February 7, 2013). "Earl Slick: In the studio with David Bowie". Glide Magazine. Retrieved July 2014. 
  13. ^ Molenda, Michael (January 30, 2013). "Earl Slick's Street Rock Odyssey". Guitar Player. Retrieved July 2014. 
  14. ^ "Video: NAMM 2015: Framus". Guitar Player. January 2015. Retrieved March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Video: Reflektor". Vimeo/Official music video by the band Arcade Fire. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Video: Devin Townsend on his Framus Guitar". Framus/Warwick. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Video: AK1974 "Mandelbrot" for Devin Townsend". Framus/Warwick. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Video: Devin Townsend AK1974". Framus/Warwick. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 
  19. ^ Varga, George (January 23, 2014). "Music & technology merge at NAMM". U-T San Diego. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  20. ^ Molenda, Michael (August 20, 2014). "Framus Idolmaker Five R Reviewed". Guitar Player. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  21. ^

External links[edit]