HAVE YOU EVER BOUGHT A RECORD BYA GROUP that you had never heard of, maybe because the cover art was so cool or they had an interesting name? Then you get it home and play it and try to figure out why the artist isn’t as famous as the quality of their music would suggest? Well, that’s kind of how I feel about the guitar featured here. It’s a 1965 Framus 5/116 New Sound TV Type. This particular “television” is in the color option that they called Black Rose Sunburst.
The Framus company (now called Warwick/Framus) started out in Bavaria as a violin and guitar maker just after the end of WWII. For decades, Framus was highly regarded as one of the finest musical instrument manufacturers and boasted the largest plant in Europe. In the ’60s, many luminaries played Framus guitars. The Stones and the Beatles used them in the studio, but never on stage (although the Stones’ Bill Wyman famously rocked a Framus Star Bass for years).
Okay, about the guitar: It’s a semi-hollowbody with double cream binding and f-holes, and it was available in two- and three-pickup models. The surfacemount vibrato is very smooth—easily as good as any competing whammy from that period— and strung with light-gauge flatwounds, the guitar is full and jazzy sounding. Both pickups have volume and tone knobs, but instead of a pickup selector, there is a cool slider matrix on the upper bout that allows you to turn a pickup on or off or bypass the tone circuit, effectively adding a boost to that pickup.
The neck is one of those 20- or 30-ply propellerwood jobs. It has a modern feel—thin and easy to play—and is very straight, even after all these years. As it turns out, there’s a good reason for why they used this kind of wood. Dr. Christian Hoyer, who wrote an amazing book called Framus—Built in the Heart of Bavaria, explained to me that the much harder to make plywood neck was thought to be stronger, especially at the headstock, than the single piece of maple that, say, Fender used, and thus more able to remain stable over the years and through the changing seasons. His theory seems valid, as this skinny little neck is straight, flat, and true. It also uses a zerofret, which sure makes low-register barre chords easy to play. The tuners are the enclosed tulipcup type.
I recently purchased this guitar for $600 from the Starving Musician in Santa Clara, California, which seems to be the going rate according to all the current price guides. As we used to like to point out in the Pawnshop Prize column, this guitar could go toe to toe with many top quality guitars out there, at a fraction of the cost. By the way, Framus still makes an updated version of this cool ax.
Thanks to Dr. Hoyer from Framus/Warwick for all of his help and info.
To check out Terry’s killer collection go to bonesandknives.com