:::::::::::::::::::::: Brief history of Czech guitars

Electric Guitars made by Czechs - pretty fast overveiw
by Dusan Palka, www.palka.com

(I'd like to scan some of pictures I made during the years but sorry, I have nearly no time for it so could be that once I'll do it)

There were some electrified archtops in the beggining which led to production of Marina guitars made by Jolana. They had one unusual and patented invention. The neck was bolt-on with one very long screw which was through the body and it was ended in the strap button which held bigsby-like vibrato too. :-)

Czech electric guitars were buildt from 1954 in factory (manufacture) near Hradec Kralove under different labels.

The first solidbody electric was something looking like Jazzmasterized Stratocaster the name was Gracioso and was selling in Europe under the name Futurama, you can see photos of young George Harrison playing it during first Hamburg 'tour'. That guitar had three pickups wound to work with mike input of amp, there were four keyboard-like switches, volume and tone controle and jack output which you can see on Stratocasters but it was probably invented on both sides of ocean in the same time! Body was made out of beech and it had maple neck with skunk stripe and tuners 3+3. Later they started to produce this guitar with rosewood fingerboard too. There were three color options as I know: two tone sunburst, white and red. Great! Great! was the tremelo mechanism, it was top mounted kinda Floyd Rose system.
Those guitars are terribly rare and if someone have one one of these in his collection it's never for sale, prices could be between $200 to $2000. Manufacture shipped totaly for about 500 pieces. Super rare is Gracioso 64' which was harmonica kind of looking solidbody guitar similar to Gracioso.
I think that could be that they made totally 15 of these.

Later they started to produce Futurama II, III, IV, V, which were similar to F I but was only with rosewood fingerboard, and tuners were on one side (upper one) You can get one if succesfull between $200 - $500 as it is not so rare.

Then the factory switched to cheaper models Star 1, 2, 3, 4 and bass version and 6 string bass named 'Pedro', guitars are cheap for about $100 but six string bass is pretty rare so those are between $200 and $500

In the beggining of sixties factory decided to join the world of semi-hollow-body guitars too, so they introduced four models Tornado, Alexandra in six and twelve string version, and Graciolla.

Alexandra six string is the only one which is collectors item, it has glued in neck with rosewood bound fingerboard three-ply-body bound on both sides with two f-holes and three single-coil pickups, two volume and two tone controls master controle and rotating pickup selector. The only color was sunburst, so as I saw couple of those stripped to wood and nice refinished to blonde true is somewhere else ;-). I saw only two in original condition for last fifteen years, the were priced for about $700 and they were both gone before the end of the next hour the add was published. Tornado and Graciolla had both nearly the same body with four-bolt-on necks with rosewood or ebony fingerboards. Tornado had three sg.coils and Graciolla had one or two. Twelve string Alexandra had two pickups and bolt on neck too. Tornado had usualy bigsby-like tremolo system.
There was semihollow 4 string bass too, which looked like guitars above.

In the beggining of seventies nearly all the manufacture moved to town Horovice and this step led in a short time to fall of quality down to the bottom. They introduced some new models which were all Fender and Gibson clones in a terrible quality, the only one which was good enough to play after weeks of luthiers work was Diamant - Les Paul body shape guitar with four bolt-on-neck and similar Les Paul controles etc. Diamant had two very ugly humbuckings which were ready to be replaced , bodies were from different woods, the maple neck with amoniaed beech bound fingerboard was ugly too. Diamand was the last remarkable electric made in Czech Republic, from the eighties there were some Stratozoids and Jazzbassoids but nothing to be played if not looking for altarnative sound and having well injured hands.

Well, just little reminder : Czech Republic was from 1948 to 1989 under the communist evil government which wasn't happy when someone even mentioned those two words
'electric guitars'. ;-)

All this is my humble opinion and everyone is welcome to tell his own opinion on this. email me at palka@radio.cz

This email address is not functioning anymore, since the author currently lives in USA.

This text is originally located at voskovec.radio.cz

The text hasn't been modified. Used by author's permission.

You can check out some Czech guitars at our site:

Futurama '59
Futurama '63
Jolana Diamant: one of the most popular Jolanas
Jolana Diamant bass: LP bass copy
Jolana Disco bass: 80's Jolana model
Jolana Iris: Telecaster bass
Jolana Diskant: early semi-acoustic

The article was written by Dusan Palka, who currently lives in USA - you can visit his website and see some of his guitars there - www.palka.com

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