Schaller GmbH

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Schaller GmbH
GmbH (private limited company)
Industrymusical instrument hardware
Founded1945
Headquarters,
OwnerDr. Lars Bünning (owner and CEO)[1]
Number of employees
about 100
Websiteschaller.info

Schaller is a German manufacturer of musical instrument hardware based in Postbauer-Heng near Nuremberg (Bavaria). The company designs, produces and sells guitar tuners, bridges, tremolos, strap locks and other accessories especially for guitars worldwide. Schaller was founded in Feucht near Nuremberg (Bavaria) in 1945 by Helmut Schaller. The company was started back then as a radio repair shop. In the meantime, Schaller has developed into one of the foremost regarded suppliers for the music instrument industry. Since 2009, Dr. Lars Bünning is the owner of the Schaller company (official company name: Schaller GmbH).

History[edit]

First Advertisement of Schaller for Pickups
First Advertisement of Schaller for Pickups

The Schaller company was founded in 1945 by Helmut Schaller (1923-1999). Helmut Schaller was a toolmaker and a radio master mechanic. His radio repair shop prospered in the 1950s. Back then a further department was supplemented, dedicated to the development of amplifiers and speakers. The department turned out to be so successful that the entire company was restructured and renamed as „Schaller Electronic“. Soon echos and reverb advices were added to the portfolio.[2]

By 1953, Schaller started manufacturing electronic guitar components such as pickups and switches for the German guitar company Framus of Fred Wilfer in Bubenreuth (Bavaria).[3]

A couple of years later, other German guitar manufacturers such as Höfner, Hopf, Hoyer, became customers, too. By the 1960s American guitar makers including Fender, Gibson, C. F. Martin and Ovation started to rely on Schaller products for their guitars and basses.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Schaller M6 Machine Head
Schaller M6 Machine Head

At the same time Schaller extended its portfolio to tremolos (1961), bridges (1962) and machine heads (1966). The tuning machine „M6“ made a mark being the world´s first fully enclosed and self-locking precision tuner.[10]

In 1968 Schaller moved about 15 kilometre from Feucht to Postbauer-Heng into a new site. A completely new production facility was set up in order to meet the rising demand for Schaller products. The company headquarters are based in Postbauer-Heng to this day.[11]

The product portfolio was constantly expanded in the 1970s. Bass tuners („M4“), various bridges including the so-called TOM bridges for Gibson guitars as well as numerous other variants of pickups („Golden 50“, „S6“, „T6“ etc.) were added.[12]

In addition, Schaller was coming up with many product designs on its own. Renowned guitar makers therefore came in touch with Schaller and were convinced to equip their guitars with components by Schaller. In 1977, Floyd Rose[13] uttered the idea of a double-locking tremolo system. After a joint workshop (that lasted for about three months) Schaller was able to develop this novel tremolo. Soon later the first prototype could be produced.

Due to the lack of demand, at the beginning of the 1980s the production of loudspeakers, amplifiers and reverberators was ceased. The core business shifted to metal components for guitars. In 1981 a new product was designed and patented in this respect: the security lock[14], the part which is vital for a secure connection between guitar and strap. Until now, it is the most sold product by Schaller.

The product portfolio had steadily expanded in the 1980s and 1990s. This came to a stop after both Helmut Schaller and his son René Schaller had died (in 1999 resp. in 1998). Until the late 1990s violin accessories were added to the portfolio as well as cables, and even special spinning machines for strings and ballends that were offered. However, all these newly introduced products weren´t as successful as the guitar components used to be.[15]

A vital period for the company were the years 1999 till 2006 since a community of heirs ran the company then. Grete Schaller (1926-2007), Helmut Schaller´s widow, tried to lead the company without being able to generate new impetus, without providing ideas for new products and without modernising the production facility at Postbauer-Heng. The company had to face this standstill period.[16]

New Schaller[edit]

Only in August 2006, a breakthrough was achieved, when the Schaller company was legally and financially restructered. It was renamed to a limited liability company („GmbH“) by a partnership. Subsequently, Dr. Lars Bünning became managing director of the company by December 2006. In January 2009, Dr. Bünning took over the shares of the „GmbH“ that belonged to the Schaller family. Since then he has been acting as both, owner and CEO, until now.

Since 2007 the Schaller company has been further restructured and a new company strategy focussing on the three pillars „quality, innovation and service“ has been launched and implemented. A reduced product portfolio secures high market shares in the field of guitar hardware. After all, Schaller has been reinvented successfully. Nevertheless, the fascinating history of the company is part of the company´s today´s philosophy. Especially the numerous patents and products originally designed by Schaller gave reason to the company´s motto, certifiying Schaller as the „The Original Innovator“.[17]

Schaller products today[edit]

Machine heads[edit]

  • GrandTune Series
  • M6 Series
  • replacement tuners and
  • tuners for bass guitars

Bridges and tailpieces[edit]

  • Signum
  • Hannes
  • TOM- and 3D-bridges

Tremolos[edit]

  • LockMeister
  • Schaller and
  • Vintage

Accessoires[edit]

  • S-Locks, Preamp „Flagship“
  • Piezo pickup („Oyster“)
  • Megaswitches
  • Covers and Frames for pickups

The production of pickups at Schaller´s had finally been discontinued by 2017.

The shift towards machine heads and metal hardware is also manifested by the new name of the company „Schaller GmbH“ instead of „Schaller Electronic“. All Schaller products are exclusively made in the Schaller factory in Postbauer-Heng near Nuremberg (German). This is why Schaller advertisements are headlined „100 % Made in Germany“). Schaller customers are both guitar manufacturers and musicians.

References[edit]

  1. ^ schaller.info: Imprint
  2. ^ "Why Top Guitar Makers Demand Schaller". The Music Trades: 80. October 1990.
  3. ^ Hoyer, Christian (2007). Framus. Built in the Heart of Bavaria. The History of a German Musical Instrument Maker 1946-1977. Markneukirchen: Framus Warwick. pp. 67–73.
  4. ^ "Why Top Guitar Makers Demand Schaller". The Music Trades: 82. October 1990.
  5. ^ Hunter, Dave (2013). The Fender Stratocaster. The Life & Times of the World´s Greatest Guitar. p. 219.
  6. ^ Duchossior, A. R. (1991). The Fender Telecaster. The Detailed Story of America´s Senior Solid Body Electric Guitar. Milwaukee. p. 23.
  7. ^ Bacon, Tony (2010). 60 Year of Fender. Six Decades of the Greatest Electric Guitars. p. 64.
  8. ^ Ingram, Adrian (1997). The Gibson L5. p. 107.
  9. ^ Boak, Richard Johnston and Dick (2009). Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference. Milwaukee. p. 13.
  10. ^ "Trade Fair Review". Das Musikinstrument: 447. 1967.
  11. ^ "Fabrikeinweihung der Firma Schaller". Musikhandel. 3: 115. 1968.
  12. ^ "On Gibson bridges by Schaller". Das Musikinstrument: 1480. November 1977.
  13. ^ Bacon, Tony (2000). Electric Guitars. The Illustrated Encyclopedia. San Diego. p. 226.
  14. ^ German Patent Office: „Offenlegungsschrift“, dated 11th May 1989; Nr.: DE 29 33 845 C2
  15. ^ The Schaller company´s official catalog, dated 2005, still contains violin accessoires and cables.
  16. ^ The Schaller company´s official product catalog, dated 2005, p. 67: „Helmut Schallers Vision“
  17. ^ . This article contains an interview with CEO Dr. Lars Bünning. "Schaller Electronics - The Industry´s Unsung Hero". Music Trades: 104–110. October 2012.CS1 maint: others (link)

External links[edit]