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Brief history of electric guitars’ production in Czechoslovakia

Unfortunately, not too many sources are available that would explain in detail the very beginning of making of electric guitars in former Czechoslovakia. Although some sources are vague and information from various documents differs from each other we’ll tell you a brief history. It all started when Mr. Ferdinand Machalek, an engineer, created the first piano pickup in the second half of 40’s of last century. He patented an electromagnetic sound recording, which was then sold to Ladislav Koran and his company Resonet in city of Blatna (later on known as Drevokov Blatna). Majority of their first production were mostly pianos and electrophonic. The first electric guitar, manufactured by a designer Vladimir Vlcek, toolmaker Jan Horejs and developer Josef Ruzicka in 1955, was named “Resonet Grazioso”. Their instruments Arioso, Grazioso and Arco received the highest award from EXPO 58 in Brussels.

The making of electric guitars Neoton started in the city of Hradec Kralove that also made the first Jolana guitar in 1960. Newer electroacoustic model Jolana was developed between 1962-63 and named Tornado. The mass production of Tornado started in company „Harmonica“ in city of Horovice. There were three major factories that made electrophonic guitars in the second half of 60’s in CSSR: CSHN in Hradec Kralove, Varhany Krnov and above mentioned Harmonika Horovice. Year 1975 marks the beginning of making of Jolana in Harmonika by Gibson Les Paul Horovice. This newer Jolana was inspired by model Diamant.

The production of musical instruments in city of Horovice

The production of musical instruments in city of Horivice goes back to 1889 with certain Mr. Slavik’s accordions production. The company becomes a national cooperation in the beginning of the 60‘s due to economic and political changes over the years. Harmonica Horovice (later on known as Delicia Horovice) starts to manufacture AXA a Cavallero, Tornado, Basora as well as Diskant 2, Marina 2, Onyx, Jantar, Strat, Studio and Studio Bass products. Year 1988 marks the making of American guitar Kramer. Delicia Horovice is bought by Bohemia Musico s.r.o (DBA “BM”) due to privatization in 1993 that starts licensed guitar production of world known brands as Epiphone, Hohner, Spector, American Showster, MTD and others.

Big changes happen in 2001 when an Asian company purchases brand Hohner, one of the biggest partners of BM and moves production of accordions to Asia. BM is forced to file bankruptcy and is purchased by Elpro-Delicia s.r.o. New owners Elpro-Delicia s.r.o. try to create a profitable business and compete with other companies on the market but in the end fail due to high cost of running their business and Asian competition that offer products at low cost. The company is forced to close their business completely.

One would think that more than 100-year-old tradition of making music instruments in Horovice ends forever. However, Mr. Peter Vykydal, one of the partners of BM leaves and establishes New Bohemian Electronics Corporation s.r.o. the same year. He and his American partners start new production of electric string music instruments in Peter’s garage in order to keep expenses low. NBE corp. later on moves into a larger space (former stables) and with the financial help of his new partners and know-how of Milan Melichar and Antonin Vesely are able to make good quality product that can sustain competition of other already established companies. NBE corp. moves into former Harmonika Horovice object in about five years in order to fulfill growing business and is located in there to this day.