Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A pair of rare 1950s Krema Kustom guitars designed by Doc Kauffman
Believe it or not, this pair of Krema Kustom guitars - extremely radical designs for 1955 - have a Fender connection. If you'd asked me to guess what these guitars were I'd probably have said they looked Italian, perhaps with an Eko connection. However, I'll let the eBay seller explain the Fender (and Rickenbacker) connection:
During WWII, Leo Fender met Clayton Orr "Doc" Kauffman, an inventor and lap steel player, who had worked for Rickenbacker Guitars, a company that had been building and selling lap steel guitars for a decade. While with Rickenbacker, Kauffman had invented the "Vibrola Tailpiece"...the precursor to the later "vibrato" or "tremolo" tailpiece. Leo convinced Doc that they should team up, and they started the "K & F Manufacturing Corporation", to design and build amplified Hawaiian guitars and amplifiers. In 1944, Leo and Doc patented a lap steel guitar, that had an electric pickup already patented by Fender. In 1945, they began selling the guitar, in a kit with an amplifier designed by Leo.
By the beginning of 1946, Leo had decided that building and selling musical instruments and amplifiers would be much more profitable than repairing them. Doc was unconvinced, pulled out of the company, and they parted ways. Leo changed the name of the company to "Fender Electric Instrument Company", and specialized in Fender lap steel guitars, and amplifiers.
Doc Kauffman (Born Clayton Orr Kauffman, died June 26, 1990) was Leo Fender's business partner in the K&F company, which they started in 1945. After Kauffman left, K&F became Fender. In the 1930s he was a chief designer of electric guitars for Rickenbacker.
Currently listed on eBay with a substantial Buy It Now Price of $99,000 (listing ends soon). They may be important historically, but somehow I doubt they are going to sell for that price.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!


  1. I like the cool "dog bone" shaped pegheads.

  2. Wow, what ugly ducklings they are...

  3. Maybe this is where the design for those Airline guitars came from.



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