Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Labeled Sonora, late 19th- or early 20th-c.

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Albums: My Instruments
Location: Portland, OR

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Comment by Melos Antigos on June 30, 2011 at 23:15

I'm not sure if the guitar in the image is German or Austrian.

If it is, then it would be a Contraguitar.


Just a note on Contraguitars ...


The Contraguitar (in German Kontragitarre) is typically remembered for 2 main styles of music:

1) Schrammelmusic which is Viennese Music, where the guitar is usually used to accompany two violins (or different instruments). The name Schrammel comes from the brothers Johann Schrammel and Josef Schrammel, who played violin and were accompanied by Anton Strohmayer on a Contraguitar.

Here one talks about the Schrammelguitar!

Some good videos of the guitar in use for this repertoire:



Played by the fantastic "Philharmonia Schrammeln".


2) Tyrolean folk music

This is a type of music like the one posted by Scot


This is not Schrammelmusic, but a folk tune as it is typical in southern Bavaria or Tyrol... so one should call the guitar Contraguitar (the video uploaders made the "mistake" of saying Schrammel guitar)



Comment by LUTENIST88 on February 25, 2011 at 21:38

Georgia in the summer...Enticing. I often wondered if part of the purpose of all the additional strings (in addition to access to the base counterpart) is the added resonance!

Comment by Scot Tremblay on February 25, 2011 at 20:01

There is a good pile of repertoire all the way from Carulli (or is it Carcassi? one has some ten string stuff) to well into the early 20th century. Enough to keep one very busy without having to resort to Bach or Weiss.


You should look up Stanley Alexandrowicz on EG&V here. He has an awesome Southwell Scherzer 10 string copy and just now emailed me a copy of a ten string program he is giving soon. I won't post a copy as I'm not sure he wants it out there yet but PM him and I'm sure he will give you more info than you can imagine.


Other EG&V members that I know of who play multi-string instruments are Robert S. Trent, Pat O'Brian and there may be others lurking out there. I think Oleg Temofeyev signed up a short while back but check here for info on his work with John Schneiderman. They will be performing at GFA this summer. It's worth a trip to Columbus, Georgia just for that!!!




Comment by LUTENIST88 on February 25, 2011 at 18:32
thanks so much for the info....fascinating stuff. Its hard to believe it was used in popular music. What about the solo repertoir?
Comment by LUTENIST88 on February 25, 2011 at 10:14
WOW,  a whole new world that I was totally unaware of.....so are they built on an early clasiical guitar platform and were strung with gut, or nylon, plucked or strum? Is there 'serious" music written for the instrument...well you know, studies, suites, etc?
Comment by Jelma van Amersfoort on February 25, 2011 at 10:08
Congratulations with the great guitar! If you are looking for repertoire, you may have a look at the many songs that are written for these extended guitars and the 'bass-lutes' that were used in the early 20th century, in the German speaking coutries. There are gorgeous songs by Sven Scholander, Elsa Laura von Wolzogen and others. Or make your own song arrangements...
Comment by Scot Tremblay on February 25, 2011 at 8:25

"Schrammelmusik" was a type of music (sort of Austrian "country" music) developed in the late 19th century (187?) in Vienna in which the band included contra-guitars/bass guitars/harp guitars (thus the name Schrammelguitar for the guitars played in this type of band), violins, clarinets and various other instruments. Brahams, Schubert and especially Strauss were influenced by this music. This music was extremely popular all through the two world wars and can still be found performed occasionally. I had the pleasure to see a very professional group in Vienna when I visited there a number of years back.


Here's a little duo (not the group I saw) to give an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJmML4wF6w0 There's better performances on the tube but I thought these two were charming.


Johann Gottfried Scherzer was one guitar maker who built this type of instrument. He learned his trade with J. G. Stauffer in Vienna and is suspected to have started to build these guitars under the influence of Mertz. He is most associated with the 10 string he built for a contest put on by Mertz and won, but he also built 6, 7, 10 and 11 through 15 string instruments. Mertz concertized many years on a Scherzer of most likely 10 strings.


Many of Scherzers instruments went to Russia where they were very popular and occassionally can still be found today, often converted into Russian seven string instruments or regular six string. A thing very easy to do as the neck is just bolted on and easily removed.


At first glance, your 13 string instrument looks to be one of the fine quality factory instruments that were built in the early decades of the 20th century. Many of these are excellent instruments when put back in playing order. You are going to have a lot of fun with that one.


If you type "Schrammel guitar" or "Schrammel music" into your search engine lots of info will pop up.


I am in the early stages of getting material together to make a reproduction one of Scherzers 11 string instruments and will be documenting the build on my blog. I'll post an update when things get closer to start date for those that might be interested to follow along.

Comment by LUTENIST88 on February 25, 2011 at 7:35

Schrammelguitar is the name of this type? or the maker? design? Holy F&@% in German?


yes crawl before walking before running

Comment by Scot Tremblay on February 25, 2011 at 3:43

Nice Schrammelguitar. Nice 10 string as well. It's good to see people getting interested in these beasts again.


I love playing my 8 string Stauffer copy so I'm sure you guys will love these beauties.


Forget Bach or Weiss...let's hear some Mertz!

Comment by Hideki Yamaya on February 25, 2011 at 3:06
Nice!  That's a lot of strings.

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