Other Guitars

Hoyer Special


The bridge KB used...


With regard to the bridge, I know you'll want to make your own decisions, but here's a bit of related "trivia". A Hoyer bridge was good enough for one Kenneth Earl Burrell on the iconic L5 he was using in the early 60's (for me, maybe the pinnacle of archtop guitar tone): https://www.lespaulforum.co...


– JimR56

That is interesting, though it begs the question, was the bridge just on the guitar when he got it or did he try many bridges and choose that one as superior? And he's amplifying that L-5 with an electromagnetic pickup, right?, so the acoustic properties aren't nearly as apparent/important.

That's also a generic bridge and not one specific to Hoyer. It had sliding plastic saddles. I would be tempted to build bone replacements myself having never been keen on plastic on acoustic guitars other than binding. It's like having a plastic nut, or saddle.

I actually had a Framus Atlantic at one point that had that very same bridge and I wasn't impressed by it.

The one on my guitar is an actual Hoyer bridge with loose round rollers that sit loosely in slots and are able to roll back and forth!! Too much like a tunamatic with all it's moving parts and metal bits. I will keep it in my case or in a drawer and build a proper acoustic archtop bridge.

I could see it being a different discussion and less critical application if the instrument was largely considered to be an electric guitar.

Interestingly, very few german archtop builders built their own custom bridges. They bought most of them from a company named 'Teller' who also made bridges for orchestra instruments.


After five years, I should have re-read the thread I linked. So you're right, not a "Hoyer" bridge, but one made by the Josef Teller company in Bubenreuth.

So, what's the body depth on your Hoyer?


Sides measure 3.5" Top and back have higher arches than most standard north American archtops


A bit more progress. Back seam turned out to be a bit of a headache but in the end got it clamped up, and added a goodly amount of cleats to the original now non functional ones(which I still should attend to) to keep it from opening up again. Decent job on the back, I give myself a C+ to B, Including before and after shots.

Tapping the back and top to check for rattles I noticed a bit of loose slap on the top, bass side lower bout. I instantly thought "Loose brace" but further examination revealed a small indentation in the bass side top binding (on the side) and a crack. Obviously the guitar has suffered a bit of a blow here. Squeezing the side at this point stops the rattle so I will glue it up and the body should be mostly done.


Beautiful guitar. Even the tuners are exquisite! Looking forward to the vid.


Well I got the neck refitted and it has a considerable angle, These guitars are known for their high bridges. (1.5+ " being common) I also made a new ebony bridge, properly fitted etc. The guitar is bright with a good bottom. Kind of halfway between my D-28 and my German 16" Fasan. Nice sparkle on the top end which is another thing these guitars were known for. I tried it with the pickup rig too and they actually sound really nice. This guitar is HUGE. Here it is next to the D-28 for size comparison. And another with the pickup rig but with the hardtail instead of the hofner vibrato unit (which is HEAVY!)


That's beautiful! Great work!


Super cool guitar,hope to play one someday!


Nice work. What a cool Gitarre!


An addendum to the Hoyer Special 'restoration' More of a bringing it back to playability and having fun trying different incarnations. I made a pickguard out of pearloid pickguard material and bound. I had to make a bracket too as I didn't want to steal the very industrial looking one off of the Hofner Pickup unit.

I finished the first bridge and made another to try a different style. A one piece one with a bone saddle in the style that I usually make for my electric archtops to give added sustain and crispness, though I'm not sure the Hoyer needs more crispness.

I also made a new pickup mounting plate out of aluminum to lighten the unit , add some shapeliness and reveal more of the nice spruce top. It's an easily reversible mod. A ground wire has been added.

Though I liked the look of the Hofner vibrato tailpiece which in their advertising Hofner calls a 'Vibrator Tailpiece" Whew! and it works well. It weighs a ^%$&^% tonne and when mounted cuts the acoustic sound a bunch. Ot's currently on the 'block' I put a bigsby on with a longer strange arm I acquired (probably Japanese) and had kicking around forever. As an experiment the bigsby is mounted about 3/8" off the body with furniture feet felts which seems to work really well and also seems to help keep the acoustic tone as the bigsby is more on the angle the stock tailpiece would be.

It sounds cool as an electric and I was able to get the pickups to Balance out nicely. I played pretty clean stuff on it and crazy howling alternative rock stuff on it and everything in between. It has cool feedback.

One of my plans eventually is to make a two pickup unit using the original cool Hoyer pickguard shape and two hilotrons (or the P-90s with alnico rod magnets I made) mounted floating . Something that covers less of the body and retains more of the original aesthetic.

I also hunted down two replacement Van Ghent tuners as I discovered that the two replacement ones (white Low E and D) in the early photos were a different type that had been machined to fit under the Van Ghent covers) The two 'new' ones aren't a perfect match but a lot closer and certainly close enough. I mostly was concerned about the quality of the tuners the Van Ghents seeing very well built.

So here are some photos of various incarnations. And some other pictures for viewing pleasure (It is currently an acoustic with the one piece bridge on it) It is particularly nice for finger picking.

For those who like numbers it has a narrow DEEP neck 1.68" at the nut and 2.02" at the 12th fret. About 1" thick at the first fret and around 1.14 at the 9th fret. Scale length is 25" . Actual string spacing is narrower as the original med jumbo frets don't extend past the last layer of binding. I will likely 'fix' this and widen the spacing at the nut if and when I refret it. Currently outside spacing at the zero fret is 1.37" and 2" at the bridge (the original bridge spacing was 1.9")

I like how the dampening grommets look like black olives off a pizza. Normally I would just use a bit of leather or a pretty shoelace but I had the grommets from amp building. I see the 2 incarnations as the mild mannered acoustic and the cape crusader electric with fancy utility belt.


Toxophilite if you look carefully over a long period of time, you can find on ebay the two single coil pickup rigs (which I believe were made by Schaller) from the early 1960's that are period appropriate for this guitar that come with a metal pickguard and complete controls. The rigs can cost upwards of $300. Here is the best part: The sound is stupendous from these rigs. I have a Hopf Silver Star from the mid-60's with this pickup rig and it is practically my go to guitar when I want something different than Filtertrons. There is a guy on Facebook named Kield Andersson and another guy named Stefan Snoopy Lob and another guy named Marco Russ who you might consider connecting with because they know everything there is to know about German guitars and how to acquire the right thigamajiggs for German guitars



My 2 pickup unit (in pictures) is made by Ideal with Fuma made single coil pickups. You're recommending the Schaller unit over the Ideal one?

Researching the Schaller pickups they would seem to be hotter at around 8-9k. The Fuma pickups are more like 4.8k. I tend to gravitate to lower output pickups though. I will keep an eye out.

I will look up the gentlemen in question, I had been corresponding with a fellow Canadian back East who is the go to hofner guy and has been collecting German guitars for 40 years. More and different insight is always appreciated.


Hi Are these the schaller pickups you're referring to ? I found a site that has them for $50 Can each. (just the pickups, not a floating unit.) from the pictures they look like they have rod magnets inside inside threaded tubes as the pole pieces. Neat.


Don't place too much importance on the DC resistance of the various pickups. It is useful when comparing two similar pickups but less useful in determining how powerful a pickup is if it of an unusual or atypical construction. Just because a pickup measures 9K DC resistance doesn't mean it's a Dimarzio Super Distortion!


Yes true indeed and thanks. At best it's a rough guidline. For example the Fuma pickups in this pickguard unit, while they measure about 4.8K have less output than the hilortrons in my Tennessean which are around 3+ K


I forgot to mention - that guitar is a beauty and I am super impressed with your work on it. Thanks for posting all the pics!


Some dark footage of the Hoyer in action making various sounds Band - The Luckless Playing our theme song titled appropriately "the Luckless" (A trippy spaghetti western themed song.)

First gig with our new singer in my friends 'Watch y'er head Tikki Room' basement venue. Very well attended and lot's of fun Somewhat like being 18 again (playing in a low ceilinged basement)

I had my friend (drummer) put a small spot on my fretboard as the 'stage' area was pretty dim. The fellow filming said the most visible thing was my left hand. Note me tweaking my OD pedal and space echo mid song ( I was a little late and no soundcheck.)

I like to thank my mother regardless of whether she's there or not...


That was trippy and drippy. Very cool!


Enjoyed that Toxo,cheers sir!


Nice track! looks great on stage too!


Here's the Hoyer Special properly recorded playing a goofy party number I banged off one evening. This was recorded at my friend's work where he occassionally has us come in to be his recording guinea pigs for his recording class. Two 3 hour sessions for the beds and vocals and any overdubs(acoustic and solo) 3 hour session for mixing. It has the D'Addario white Bronze on it for this session and the pickups were appropriately adjusted as per my other thread. https://soundcloud.com/user...


Another gem of a song, and I see that Ken Hamilton has uploaded more tunes (including this one) from the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room (oops, sorry to go all Disney on your ass). 'Barely Alive' and 'Dance Away From me' too! I'm going to look forward to seeing The Luckless perform someplace where they're actually visible. haha

So were you using both pickups on the Soundcloud recording (same question for the Tiki performance), and if so were they both full on, or was there a specific balance you were using? (don't think I ever asked you that about your 2-pickup Gretsches either)

I would be curious to hear some samples of each pickup on their own (especially the neck pickup, as that's always been the way I lean).


On that recording both pickups, full on, and yes that is usually my default setting. I like the neck pickup warmth with the definition and the zing on top the bridge pickup gives, I also enjoy the way two single coils interact. similar to what you get with a strat. I did do some takes of the solo with the neck pickup to differentiate and it sounded good but in the end I preferred the sound of both together. I don't use the volume and tone controls much on guitars. This pickup unit is somewhat gretsch-like in that it has a mud switch. Also two individual on/off switches for the pickups and one master volume.

These Fuma pickups are not too far off hilotrons sonincally, being low output single coils. Some differences. I believe they are what some people call 'air coils' meaning there's no bobbin, just a coil, often bound with string or wrapped with some sort of tape loosely draped about magnets and a unit to hold pole pieces. Also the Special has some particular sonic differences. Think BRIGHT!

Speaking of bright, yes,those videos are dark. Ken's video camera did not like te low lighting in that room. Makes me look young! Now I have to go look at thise videos and make sure they aren't too scary.


For eye candy fun the many incarnations of my Hoyer Special ending in the current version which will probably be refretted soon with a bit of board sanding and the frets extended to the edges and the spacing widen a couple of mm. -The original incarnation(which I loved and it made me buy the guitar) was TOO heavy with all the steel plates and the zillion lbs but very cool Hofner vibrator (that's what it's actually called)

Post repair , trying it with it's stock acoustic setup and new adjustable properly fitted ebony bridge

Ideal pickup unit and Hardtail

Pickup unit but with a cutout aluminium backing plate and lighter bigsby with weird long Japanesse arm. I had it like this for a few months. The Ideal unit sounding great but the controls were hard for me. Switching was in a way negative as I mostly play with both pickups on. If I wanted the neck I had to switch off the bridge. Confusing and behind the bridge. Also bridge mark 2 One piece ebony with bone saddle like most of my Gretschs have A recording of the ideal unit in action


Got a Schaller pickup unit (labelled for Framus) Shiny! Cool looking! 7K single coils with adjustable alnico magents poles like Dearmonds . Sounds good still heavy! Copied the original Hofner Bigsy arm in Aluminium. Much better! It's a cool shape. Played it this way for a while. these units are cool as they basically have a 2 band EQ ,Bass and Treble. Also one big rotating switch. Still not very intuitive for me and behind the bridge. Also great sounding! Now the bridge has a ebony saddle and has had the middle cutout to lighten it

With a hardtail

And a hofner-ized bigsby

and another just because it's cool and shows the arms bendiness.

Then re-imagining the whole thing, Making an original Hoyer shaped Aluminium pickguard and mounting the two 4K steel pole ideal pickups onto it with a simple 3 way toggle near where it would be on a (ulp) , Gibson.. and a master volume. Then some pinstriping.

The guitar is much lighter (about 8 lbs) and there's less metal covering the nice wood and weighing down the fretboard extension and bridge. The bigsby has felts lifting it to the same angle as the original bridge. This, less weight overall via the pickup unit and bigsby and 13-56 steel strings help gets the guitar's acoustic sound going a lot better. It needs some good playing in still I think. It's sat dormant for many many years.

I embarrassingly just recently learned, through this guitar, that a lot of the bottom end of archtop guitars disappears when you press the back against your body, or mute the back in any way. Big difference! Probably everyone except me knew this.

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