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Page 1    Foreward.

Page 2    The Prototypes.

Page 3    Specification.

Page 4    The Register.

Page 5    Dating the guitars.

Page 6   Recent updates.

 

 

 

Published 14.06.2022

© All photographs are copywrite

 the justjazzguitars collection

Rare, Vintage, Jazz, Archtop, Guitar, Gibson, Byrdland, D'Angelico, Guild, Hofner, Benedetto, Guitars for Sale, Guitar Collection,

 

 

                   

 

The Pöhlert Jazz Guitar.

   
   
  1.  Foreward.
  My interest in this guitar was aroused when I saw one on German eBay in July 2010.    It was not like any guitar I had seen before.    Clearly it had Hofner DNA running through it but did not bear the HOFNER name on the headstock.    Instead it had the name Pöhlert on the tailpiece and no other reference to maker, model or date.   It did not have a makers label inside!

Such a good looking archtop but I had not heard of Pöhlert or his guitar before.    I talked at length with the seller.   He told me it was a dream to play so I bought it!   

It came with some very informative memorabilia  -  a pamphlet introducing Werner Pöhlert, his guitar, his School and included a CD and some strings.

I can't say that this is an important Hofner but it is interesting.    It is one of "very few" (thought to be only 6-8)* special instruments commissioned by Werner Pöhlert, one for himself and the others for his students.  

Herr Pöhlert was a famous guitarist in Germany and had been voted Top Jazz Guitarist at the 1957/58 German Jazz Festival.    He asked Hofner to make him a quality archtop but at a price his students could afford  -  not a HOFNER, a PÖHLERT jazz guitar!   

Werner's aim was to play a high quality instrument that his students could also afford to play.

I became intrigued by the story of this man and his dream.   I contacted Hofner but they had neither record nor recollection of such a guitar.   I asked Steve Russell if such an instrument was included in Hofner's catalogue archive that he was compiling at the time.   There was no such guitar.

 

"Apparently I had discovered an archtop that nobody was aware of except, of course, those craftsmen who made it and a handful of students at The Pöhlert School back in the 60's." 

 

I could think of only two people who might help kick-start my research,  Jochen Pöhlert, (Werner's son) and Christian Benker, (CEO of Hofner when these guitars would have been made).    I contacted both.

Jochen was most helpful, setting the background and providing invaluable photographs.

By coincidence I was fortunate to sit with Christian Benker over lunch in Dec 2010 and we talked at length about the Pöhlerts (and much, much more).   He later followed up with some very helpful emails.   What I learned encouraged me to see what more I could find out about these instruments and if possible to track them down.

Over the last 12 years I have "found" the prototype and six examples of The Pöhlert Jazz Guitar - 7 in total.    Their owners have generously helped by providing detailed photos of each guitar,  offering some recollections and answering numerous questions.   

So, I am now able to compile this register and feel qualified to describe the guitars is some detail.

 

Alan Cramp.  June 2022                                                                      *  ref  Christian Benker

 

Thanks:

I am indebted to Jochen Pöhlert for providing much of the original information contained here and to Christian Benker for confirming some of the details.    Thanks also to Steve Russell for the occasional peek into the Hofner archive and to all the owners who have been so generous with their time and particularly to Michael Arzt, the only remaining original owner who still has the guitar he bought in 1964.

 

This Register is being updated on a continuing basis.     

 
 

 
 

- 2 -

 
  2.  The Prototypes.
 

Werner Pöhlert's intention was to play a high quality/low cost jazz archtop, good enough for his own use in teaching and live performance. but affordable for his students.   They were to  be known as "The Pöhlert Jazz Guitar", simply inscribed Pöhlert on the tailpiece without any reference to Hofner as the maker.    The finish would be "Black Rose" cellulose.

Hofner sent two prototypes,  one based upon a modified Committee with simplified low cost  construction and minimal ornamentation, the other based on a President Thinline with a single pickup. 

Both prototypes, however, had HOFNER in MoP on a bellflower headstock - the Committee had an escutcheon tailpiece inscribed Pöhlert as requested whereas the President had a blank harp tailpiece.

 

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The Committee version was chosen and named "The Pöhlert Jazz Guitar"      It had a  laminate top with a square-cut cutaway (like the President), cheaper position markers borrowed from the Verithin, and did not have a pickup selector switch, otherwise it was close to a Committee.    The President's "Bellflower" fascia was chosen instead of the Committee's "Lily of the Valley" and it did not have any ornamentation on the back of the body.

Both prototypes had a sticker on the top, maybe it read Prototype, Sample or probably Pöhlert, but both guitars were scarred as the sticker must have been applied when the cellulose was fresh and it left a permanent indent.    Clearly Hofner intended that these prototypes should not be resold.

Here is the mark on the Committee top (just below the tailpiece).   The President has a similar mark.   The transfer just below the bridge from Musikhaus Ehret who sold most of the guitars when new and resold them when students wished to sell!

I have been fortunate to have owned the President prototype and #02 and so have been in a position to assess both guitars in detail.    Jochen Pöhlert still owns #00, the Committee prototype, and so detailed comparisons have been possible.

The customer guitars are really great instruments and stunning in the Black Rose cellulose.     Mine felt like a Committee to play with a strong, rich voice and sounds more jazzy than the Committee due to the 21 fret fingerboard allowing the neck p/u to be placed at the second harmonic. 

 

 
 

- 3 -

 
  3.  Werner's Specification:
     
  HEAD:

Committee shape, bellflower fascia, no HOFNER logo with edge binding.

  TUNERS:

Nickel Van Gent tuners.

  POSITION MARKERS

Inexpensive "Verithin" style.

         
     
  BODY:

Straight-cut, simple, inexpensive cutaway,  no ornamentation on back.

  PICKUPS:

2 x 511 Staples mounted in "Toaster"  surrounds with 4 screws.  No selector switch.

  TAILPIECE:

Nickel Escutcheon engraved Pöhlert.

 
  Full dimensions and details can be found in this special feature:  The justjazzguitars Collection
 
 

 
 

- 4 -

 
  4.  The Register. 
 

All the Pöhlerts were made and supplied in 1964/65.    The guitars were not numbered or dated so I have ascribed numbers for easy reference,  starting with the prototype #00,  Werner's guitar #01,  then following the sequence in which I found them.

The current and previous known owners are shown beneath the guitar together with any special notes:

   
  #00  The Prototype.
     
    This prototype and the President prototype were supplied directly by Hofner.  It still has the HOFNER logo but the tailpiece is now correct!    It was used by a student.  Later it was sold through Musikhaus Ehret (as most were) and has the Ehret transfer on the body.   Later, Jochen saw it on eBay and acquired it.
   
   
  Ownership history:  #00   Current Location:
  Jochen Pöhlert   Germany
  eBay        
  Student from new        
         
  #01  Werner's Guitar
   

Just as Werner wanted it.  No HOFNER logo.    Even his personal guitar was supplied by Ehret.

   

  Ownership history:  #01   Current Location:
  Pöhlert Family   Germany
  Werner Pöhlert from new        
         
  #02
     

     
    #02 and #04 , are the only two guitars that are alike.   Neither have the Ehret transfer.    All the others vary in some way.   See the comparison below.     
   
   
  Ownership history: #02   Current Location:
  Wolfgang Kramer   Germany, UK, now back in Germany
  Marcus Smidt-Merkel    
  Alan Cramp    
  Norbert Kluthe        
  Pöhlert Student or students.        
         
  #03
   

HOFNER logo but no binding.

 
     
  Ownership history: #03   Current Location:
  Boris Forkel  

Germany

  Matz Mullerschon        
 

Pöhlert Student from new

       
         
  #04
     
         
  Ownership history: #04  

Current Location:

  Jaume Miró     

Spain

  Unknown  -  German eBay  

 

   
         
  #05
     

Different engraving to the others.

  Ownership history: #05   Current Location:
  Michael Arzt from New   Germany
       
  #06
     

Undergoing light restoration to top.

This guitar is FOR SALE.    Please use CONTACT above.

  Ownership history: #06   Current Location:
  Frank Lionhardi   Switzerland
       
       
  #07        
       
  #08        
           
           
 
COMPARISON OF FEATURES.
HOFNER LOGO
Headstock BINDING
Headstock NO BINDING
Tailpiece Pöhlert
Tailpiece Modell Pöhlert
Musikhaus Ehret
 
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
*1           *?    
  *1 Not Originally

*?  No evidence

       
 
         
  - 5 -
         
  5.  Dating the guitars.
 

1  Pickups:

Both prototypes were fitted with Type 511 pickups mounted in "Toaster" type surrounds.    These were only available in 1964 and part of '65.   During '65 the 511 was re-designed with tabs to enable height adjustment when mounted in the conventional Gibson type humbucker surround.

All the customer Pöhlerts were fitted with the 511/Toaster dating these guitars to '64/65

 

2  Pots:

The President prototype had pots dated '64 which further confirms the dating as '64/65.

 

3  Body:

To reduce costs the Pöhlert Jazz Guitar was made with the same square cut cutaway as the President prototype.    This decision was clearly taken in '64/65 when both prototypes were reviewed by Werner Pöhlert. 

Square cut cutaways had been used before by Hofner on their cheaper models but never (catalogue search) on the 18" model where only rounded cutaways had been used (as on the Committee).    Square cuts have not been used since the Pöhlert on an 18" body!

So, any 18" archtop with a square cut cutaway has to be a '64/65 Pöhlert guitar.

 

4  Anecdotal:

Michael A, the original and still the current owner of #05   -  who was both student then teacher at the Pöhlert School - bought his guitar new in 1964 when they became available!!

 

         
 
 

 
 

- 6 -

         
  6.  Recent Developments.
 
  1  Musikhaus Ehret:

I recently contacted Musikhaus Ehret seeking to confirm some of the early research but have not had an answer.    It appears that Hofner supplied the prototypes direct to Werner Pöhlert and possibly two more guitars but that most were supplied through Musikhaus Ehret who also took back and resold student guitars when they were no longer wanted.

Even Werner's personal guitar has the Ehret transfer on the body and so it is normal and reasonable to suspect that he played them all and selected the one he wished to play!

Michael Arzt remembers buying and collecting his guitar from the shop when he joined the school, initially as a student then as a teacher.

 
  2  Recent Discovery:    The acoustic.
 
 

This interesting and very beautiful guitar has just come to light recently (2022).

Wolfgang Kramer, who has #02, now also has this guitar.

 

     
 

 

It is almost certainly the Factory Prototype for the Pöhlert (with pickup added later).

Hofner used to make two kinds of prototype**  - one, The Factory Prototype was a simple first example only to show the Board for approval, to iron out any manufacturing snags and to decide that it was viable.   The second type of prototype was a perfect hand made example (better than subsequent production model), made to show the Press and for publicity pictures.

Reasons to believe that this was the first prototype:

1 Accoustic.

It was Hofner's normal practice to make the Factory Prototypes as acoustics since their purpose was to show the construction, finish and playability.     Electrics would be decided later!   I have owned such a guitar.   If you look at #15 La Provençale on my website you will see evidence of exactly the same thing - an acoustic prototype.

 

2 Branding.

That this guitar has a bound headstock with the HOFNER logo together with the "Modell Pöhlert" tailpiece also gives some strong clues as to its origin.    We have it on record*** that Werner Pöhlert did not want a Hofner guitar called a Pöhlert model like this one.    So, having seen this prototype Herr Pöhlert would presumably have stressed his desire to drop the "Modell Pöhlert Tailpiece and HOFNER logo.    The finished prototype #00 has only the name Pöhlert tailpiece.

 

3 Provenance.

Unfortunately there is not any provenance for this guitar.   We have no information about previous owners, it hasn't cropped up in my early discussions with Jochen Pöhlert or Christian Benker and neither Jochen nor Michael Arzt remembers such a guitar at the school  -  it just seems to have arrived on the scene recently.  

In part that further supports the possibility that it was the original factory prototype, in which case it would have remained at the Hofner factory, probably until 1984 when the Bubenreuth factory closed.    Clearly, there would not be any early provenance for this guitar if it remained at the factory.

 

So,  I believe this was the first Pöhlert prototype.   It would have remained in store at the factory as an acoustic.   Acquired after the closure of the Bubenreuth factory in 1984  it has subsequently been fitted with the pickup plate and, eventually sold by Ehret.

Without further research it is not possible to say more.

 

I am keen to learn more about this lovely instrument.    If you can add to our understanding of this important guitar, please contact me on this website.

As more information becomes available it will be re-considered for inclusion in the register.

 

         
  *     see       The Prototypes

**   source   Christian Benker

*** source   Jochen Pöhlert

       
        Updated 14.06.2022

 

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