As the photo gallery below clearly illustrates, Framus — the Germany-based manufacturer of guitars, basses, banjos, amps and more — has made some very distinctive and cool-looking instruments over the years.
Although Beatles fans might automatically associate the brand with John Lennon (He's playing a 12-string Framus Hootenanny acoustic in The Beatles' movie Help!) or Paul McCartney (His first guitar was a Framus Zenith No. 17), the company actually dates back to 1946, when Fred A. Wilfer founded Franconian Musical Instruments in Erlangen, Germany.
Electric Framus models really took off in the 1950s, due to the success of rock 'n' roll. By 1966, Framus was one of the biggest guitar producers in Europe, employing about 300 workers. Eventually, competition with Japanese manufacturers and other factors led to the company going bankrupt in the late '70s.
Framus returned in 1995 as part of Warwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG, picking up where they left off, producing cool, creative and cutting-edge guitars; for some visual proof, check out Paul Riario's recent review of the Framus Earl Slick Signature Series Guitar, something I'd love to own ... .
Of course, Framus has been associated with other artists besides The Beatles and Earl Slick. There's Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones (a major fan of the Star Bass), of course, plus Jan Akkerman, Blackbyrd McKnight, Uli Jon Roth, Rik Emmett, Bruce Palmer, Jet Harris and many others.
Be sure to check out the 10 most iconic Framus instruments, below. Note that the name of each guitar contains a link to that guitar's page at the Framus Vintage Archive.
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World.