From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
IndustryString instruments
FoundedLuby, Czechoslovakia (1946; 77 years ago (1946))
FounderFred Wilfer
HeadquartersMarkneukirchen, Germany
Area served
Double basses
Classical, archtop, acoustic and electric guitars
Lap & pedal steel guitars
Acoustic & electric basses
Electric upright basses
OwnerHans-Peter Wilfer
DivisionsWarwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG
SubsidiariesGiannini Drums
WebsiteFramus 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. The company's custom shops are located in Markneukirchen, Shanghai, New York City, and Nashville.


  • 1946: The foundation of Fränkische Musikinstrumentenerzeugung ("Franconian Musical Instruments Fabrication") by Fred A. Wilfer KG in Erlangen, Germany, to help resettle luthiers displaced from Luby in the Sudetenland).
  • 1954: A larger factory was built in Bubenreuth, Germany, to house the 300-strong workforce.
  • 1967: Further expansion saw the building of a second facility in Pretzfeld, Germany.
  • 1975: The rapidly changing market forced the company into bankruptcy.
  • 1995: Framus musical instruments resumed production under Warwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG.


Early years[edit]

Framus originated in the town of Luby (now in the Czech Republic), until 1946 known as Schönbach, which was the world centre of making of violins and other string instruments. The founder of Framus, Fred Wilfer, was born in the Bohemian area in 1917. After World War II, when he heard about plans to expel Sudeten Germans from post-War II Czechoslovakia, he decided to build up a new basis for his countryman and the music industry in the west.

Even before the first train transported violin makers from Schönbach to other areas, Wilfer contacted different government authorities in Bavaria and told them about his plans. The Bavarian government welcomed his approach and asked him to create all the conditions needed for the industry in 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, Framus was the man in charge of finding 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 accommodation. A factory was set up in autumn 1946, in a former wheel warehouse in Möhrendorf. At the end of 1948, the factory was moved to a former brewery in the nearby town of Baiersdorf. Soon, even that large space proved inadequate.

In late 1949, Bubenreuth became the centre 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 metres 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 best seller. Sales increased enormously due to the popularity of rock and roll music at the end of the 1950s. Because of that development, several technologic advances were introduced, such as putting truss rods in guitar necks. In 1966, a second factory was built in Pretzfeld, 25 km north of Bubenreuth, in Franconian Switzerland. Framus became the largest guitar producer in Europe, employing around 300 workers by that time.

Zenith model 17 (played by Paul McCartney)
5/150 Star Bass (played by Bill Wyman)
4/60 Triumph Bass

In the 1950s, 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 realised he could not sing and play a trumpet, so he swapped it for a Framus "Zenith" model 17. He used the guitar to compose some of his first songs, including "When I'm Sixty-Four". It still hangs in his studio.

Although their guitars were more popular by far, Framus made other stringed instruments. In particular, their four-string tenor banjos were very popular among Irish traditional musicians.[citation needed]

The company included a musical kindergarten in the Bubenreuth factory. It employed a young teacher, Gertrud Fischer, who used with small, 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 performed a special concert in the workshop, and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who toured the factory and its musical kindergarten during a visit to the violin-making village.


In an interview, Wilfer summarized his all-embracing concept: "It's not only important to produce instruments, over a long period it is important to 'produce customers' ". That motto also related to other Framus projects. Eventually, dumping by companies from Japan, along with other factors, both external and internal, forced Framus into bankruptcy in the mid-1970s.

Many aspects of the history of Framus are still unclear, due to the company archives being lost as a result of the bankruptcy.

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, as well as a small range of high-end tube amplifiers.

Panthera Pro
Diablo Custom
(played by Earl Slick)
Tennessee Custom and AK-1974

Renegade Pro
Framus Cobra Top
(100W 3-input tube amp head with MIDI control)
Framus Ruby Riot
(2011. 2×12" 30W all tube amp, with reverb & searing drive)

Notable users[edit]

In the early 1960s, Framus Star Bass guitars were among the first bass guitars imported into Britain. Many of the early British rock and roll 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 Star bass.[1][2] Guitarists in the United States who endorsed Framus guitars at that time included 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. ^ "Bill Wyman". Framus Vintage Archive. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  2. ^ "'Framus - known all over the world'". Framus Vintage Archive. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  3. ^ "Billy Lorento". Framus Vintage Archive ( Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  4. ^ "On the radar: (Sandy) Alex G". 18 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Peter Kraus". Framus Vintage Archive ( Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  6. ^ "Jan Akkerman". Framus Vintage Archive ( Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  7. ^ Miles, Barry. Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. Vintage-Random House 1998, ISBN 0-7493-8658-4.
  8. ^ Moseley, Willie G. (November 2002). "Philip Campbell - Decibel Level Be Damned". Vintage Guitar. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
  9. ^ Derrough, Leslie Michele (February 7, 2013). "Earl Slick: In the studio with David Bowie". Glide Magazine. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  10. ^ Molenda, Michael (January 30, 2013). "Earl Slick's Street Rock Odyssey". Guitar Player. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  11. ^ "Guitar & Genre "Mismatches": Let's See Them!".
  12. ^ "Video: NAMM 2015: Framus". Guitar Player. January 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-10-07. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  13. ^ "Video: Reflektor". Vimeo/Official music video by the band Arcade Fire. Archived from the original on 2016-10-21. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  14. ^ "Video: Devin Townsend on his Framus Guitar". Framus/Warwick. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  15. ^ "Video: AK1974 "Mandelbrot" for Devin Townsend". Framus/Warwick. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  16. ^ "Video: Devin Townsend AK1974". Framus/Warwick. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  17. ^ "Framus launches pricey new the Blank and Television guitar models". 28 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Product Demo the Blank with Devin Townsend". 25 September 2017.
  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. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  21. ^ Lefebvre, Sebastien. "Thanks @warwickframus for this brand new guitar!..." Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  22. ^ Pratt, Guy. "Guy Pratt". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.

External links[edit]