Sunday, 10 August 2014

Jim is looking for info on his "Triumph" archtop guitar
Jim writes:
Hi Gavin,

I'm a fan of the Guitarz blog, it's been a great read. I started to learn how to play last year, and I'm finding the instruments and their history very interesting.

I bought this guitar in a junkstore yesterday (pictures attached), I was hoping someone at Guitarz might be able to tell me where it's from, how old it is? It's got a 'Triumph' sticker label on the headstock with a 'Foreign' label on the back, also stamped with number '13547'.

I think it's a cheap copy, but I've kinda fallen in love with it and I'm going to get it cleaned up and looking a bit healthier. It's currently smells of old books! Hope someone might be able to fill in some it's history, as I can't find anything about it.

Thanks for the great blog - it's been a really great resource.

All the best, Jim
Hi Jim, I believe what you have got there is a Selmer Triumph guitar. It's hard to pinpoint it to an exact model because the Selmer Triumph name encompassed several different guitar designs and a few amplifiers too.

To give some background, Selmer were a musical instrument manufacturer established in the early 1900s and based in Paris (surely their best known guitars were the gypsy jazz guitars as played by Django Reinhardt). By 1928 they had aquired a semi-independent UK branch. From the 1950s and through to the 1970s some of Selmer UK's own-brand guitars were produced by Germany's Höfner especially for the UK market.

However, rather than being a Höfner this particular guitar looks to be very similar to the Framus Studio 5/51. We've looked at one of these before here on Guitarz, although that example was unusual in having just a single f-fole.

Speaking of the f-holes, you'll notice that these Framus guitars have very distinctive shaped f-holes which omit the crossbar of the "f".

So, in brief, Jim, your guitar would be made in Germany, most likely in the 1960s. For further information you might want to check out this exchange I found on an internet forum, which concerns another very similar guitar.

By a strange coincidence, it also looks very similar to a guitar owned by my friend Frank, which has recently been restored by luthier Jeff Beer.

G L Wilson

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  1. That is a beautiful guitar. Even if it is a "junk" guitar, I'd love to have that laying around my house.

  2. The bridge, tuners and tailpiece are all common to various Harmony made guitars. I have some of each this hardware in my parts boxes.

  3. The French Selmer were originally more of a woodwind factory (it's a classic saxophone and clarinet brand), while their London branch, started in 1928 by the Davis brothers, became more of a wholesaler that imported all kinds of musical instruments from Germany, Czechoslovakia and Italy - although they did have a factory for amplifiers and PAs in Braintree (mid-1950s-early 1970s). The Davis brothers were very instrumental in taking American designs to Central-European workshops, and putting a twist on it: the Hofner violin bass, the German schlaggitarren, croc-skin cases, golden and sparkled finishes...

  4. Yes I love Playing guitars! And these guitars makes us proud bro! It`s an art you know. Have a guitar hanging on my wall also

  5. I own a Selmer Triumph guitar almost identical to this. It was bought for me by my father for Christmas 1957. The serial number is 1732, it was one of six in stock at Rushworth & Draper, Liverpool and I believe it cost £6/10shillings in old money! I can confirm that Jim's instrument looks completely original with the exception of the machine heads which were three on a plate, open back type. Probably replaced because the buttons split. Two of mine did but a spot af araldite fixed them. The finish on the neck and head looks a it too 'fresh' ; nearly 60 years wear has put a few more chips on the head and thinning on the back of the neck. Also when new it had a round, red and gold metallic paper Selmer sticker on the head. Most cheap European guitars of that era were unplayable but these are really nice. I would say almost certainly Framus as Hofner although very pretty were very 'clumpy' guitars then, with a very high set neck. Because there is no truss-rod it wears 10 gauge strings these days and sits in the corner of my living room near my Martin and still plays nicely - although the tone is not up to much. Steve

  6. I own a Selmer Triumph guitar almost identical to this. It was bought for me by my father from Rushworth & Draper, Liverpool in December 1957. The serial number is 1732, so a little older than Jim's, which looks original except for the machines which were three on a plate open back. Also for a guitar of that age there looks very little wear on it. The finish on the back of the neck is worn thin on mine and there are a few chips round the head. Also it is missing the 'Selmer' red and gold metallic paper disc from the front of the head. The cracking of the finish on the front is just like mine. Many cheap European guitars of this era were practically unplayable but this is excellent. Because it has no truss rod it only wears 10 gauge strings these days and still plays very nicely - the tone is not so good though. It sits in the corner of my living room in company with my Martin. I feel certain it was made by Framus as many of the features are so similar to Framus instruments of that time



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