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Kauffmann Cozy TL and TM review

Kauffmann unearths a lost European guitar that was first choice for certain big names of the '60s. Never heard of it? You have now

Kauffmann Cozy TM
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

Obviously, not everyone will get the finish style, but if you’re into vibe-y old guitars, none of that matters. It’s part of the appeal and that’s what – for the right player – the Cozy has in abundance.

For

  • Original offset style.
  • Pickup and hardware quality.
  • Light weight.
  • Overall vibe and mojo with sounds to match.
  • This TM takes a nod more towards old Gibson style.

Against

  • Not everyone will enjoy those finishes…

Head to Kauffmann’s website and you’ll find a tongue-in-cheek fictional backstory to the Kauffmann Cozy involving a guitar builder named Cosette Gemuttlich, who was born in 1942, and a European castle. 

But the real enterprise is highly indicative of how guitar making worldwide has changed and continues to do so. There’s little doubt, for example, that the original Fender Jazzmaster offset is continuing to have an increasing influence on new designs, especially married to a mix ’n’ match approach to hardware and pickup styles. 

Two and a half decades ago, bashed-up relic guitars were entering the mainstream market. Today, factories all around the world are bashing up their finishes, although many still throw up their arms in horror despite it being such an established style now. Many of these new old-looking guitars don’t originate in factories, however – more like small workshops or sheds.

And just as the digital revolution has democratised music making, the relative affordability of CNC milling machines and associated CAD programmes – once exclusive to large guitar-making concerns – means that even one-person operations can produce necks and bodies with great consistency, limited only by imagination.

Kauffmann Cozy TM

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

So if the style of Kauffmann’s Cozy is very much of the moment, then we suspect that’s not the only thing you’ll remember if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one of these. 

First, there’s that enlarged body shape, which looks rather familiar and certainly recalls Novo’s Serus – not least the upper horn and the control area of the large scratchplate. As we discover talking to Kauffmann’s Paul van Bree elsewhere in this feature, Dennis Fano and his Novo brand have indeed provided strong inspiration. 

Both our review samples have a rustic charm with the very thin nitro sprayed over the bodies

But the Cozy is no clone and you can see some of Rickenbacker’s Combo in here along perhaps with a little non-reverse Firebird, there’s obviously some offset Jazzmaster inspiration, and even a touch of more exotic 60s designs such as Wurlitzer’s Wildcat or something Framus or Valco might have created six decades ago.

And when we say enlarged, in terms of the outline, at 480mm long by 370mm wide (around 19 by 14.5 inches) it’s more like a slightly wider Jazzmaster than a Stratocaster.

Kauffmann Cozy TL

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

But whatever the actual influences, imagined or otherwise, the Cozy recalls exactly the sort of thing you may have found on your travels to a pawn shop or old-fashioned dusty music store. And that illusion is very much the point.

It’s a clever – though not unique – design in that by simply swapping bridges and pickups while retaining the body style and large scratchplate, five versions are available. The Cozy TL we have on review, for example, uses a Tele-style bridge; our TM swaps that for a tune-o-matic and stud tailpiece.

The CB uses a cutdown ‘short’ Tele-style bridge typically paired with Lollartrons, TV Jones or Lindy Frailin Twang Masters. The JM follows the vibrato style of the Fender offset with dual soapbar single coils, while the VB celebrates the Bigsby vibrato.

Kauffmann Cozy TM

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Plenty of colours are offered, too, and ageing levels, but if our two samples are anything to go by it’s the finishing that might get Kauffmann’s guitars another reputation. 

Relics or distressed guitars are one thing, but not only do both our review samples look well used, they also have a rustic charm with the very thin nitro sprayed over the bodies, which themselves aren’t grain filled.

These guitars don’t disappoint in any regard. They’re light in weight with a superb seated or strapped-on feel, good setups, and a neck shape that’s quite a full-shouldered C

Moving on, what we have here are a pair of rather appealing boutique beauties that we found very engrossing. Both use paulownia for their solidbodies, except with weights around the 2.7kg (6lb) mark you’d be forgiven for thinking they might be quite heavily chambered.

While our TM is slab-bodied due to its double binding, the TL has the usual contour sculpturing plus a chamfered heel and contouring behind the treble cutaway – sort of shred-guitar style.

Kauffmann Cozy TM

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The rustic nature of the body finishing is in stark contrast to the rest of the build. Both necks are a deep caramel brown quarter-sawn roasted maple that looks superb and feels it, too. The necks are effectively unfinished, aside from rubbing in a proprietary solution that slightly greys and ages the wood.

The rosewood fingerboards are deep milk chocolate coloured with ‘clay’ dots and tidy fretwork from Dunlop 6150-sized wire, the edges worn-in rather than over rounded. They play very well indeed and have a beautiful ring. They feel very alive.

Hardware on both is by Gotoh (aged, of course), nuts are Graph Tech Tusq, and our review models use both Kauffmann’s own‑design or the UK’s Cream T pickups.

Kauffmann Cozy TL

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Feel & Sounds

These guitars don’t disappoint in any regard. They’re light in weight with a superb seated or strapped-on feel, good setups, and a neck shape that’s quite a full-shouldered C – approximately 21.8mm deep at the 1st fret and 24.2mm by the 12th. 

To say they sound as old as they look is pretty spot on. But what does that mean? For one, there’s character in abundance.

The TM comes across as a little more ‘Gibson’; it’s a little darker and softer than our reference PJD Corey Standard, which has similar Cream T pickups albeit with a through-string bridge and chambered light ash body. There’s a very smoky character, edgy early electric blues from the bridge with Kenny Burrell-like jazz/blues from The Duke at the neck.

Kauffmann Cozy TL

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

But wind up your amp a little and it’s almost early Les Paul with less thickness perhaps, a nod to a good SG but with no lack of depth. The note separation impresses, so even with a gnarly overdrive or fuzz, big chords don’t turn to mush. There’s clarity but not at the expense of over-egged treble.

Thinking we might have found a real roots-rock and blues-jazz machine in the TM, we swap to the TL and the difference is marked. But in a good way. It’s up there with the best 50s Teles this writer has ever played, and none of those has the TL’s secret weapon: the Cream T Banger & Mash, which suits this platform perfectly. It’s a unique-looking and clear-sounding humbucker with bell-like percussion. Old Fender to the TM’s old Gibson? That’s about the size of it.

But there must be something we don’t like… Erm, no. If you’re into older guitars, you’ll feel at home here, except these play superbly and there are no issues to consider.

Verdict

If Kauffmann’s intention was to create a new guitar that feels and sounds like an old one, it’s certainly achieved it. We’d give either Cozy house room: aside from the engaging light weight and great feel, there are some stellar sounds here all in the low-output classic vein. 

Not for the first time we’d struggle to pick our favourite, although the TL just wins – not least because that the Cream T Banger & Mash sounds absolutely superb on this platform. Neither guitar feels precious, either. These are players’ guitars through and through.

Specs

Kauffmann Cozy TL

Kauffmann Cozy TL

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: £2,349 (inc gigbag)
  • ORIGIN: Netherlands
  • TYPE: Double-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: Paulowina
  • NECK: Quarter-sawn roasted maple, rounded C profile, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Bone/42.89mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, ‘clay’ dot inlays, 254mm (10”) radius
  • FRETS: 21, medium (Dunlop 6150)
  • HARDWARE: Gotoh bridge with 3x ‘In-Tune’ brass saddles, Gotoh SD91 vintage Kluson-style tuners – aged nickel plating
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 54.5mm 
  • ELECTRICS: Kauffmann XL single coil (bridge), Cream T Banger & Mash humbucker (neck), 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, master volume and tone control
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 2.72/5.98
  • OPTIONS: The base price is approximately £2,199. Upcharges here are the Kauffmann/Cream T pickup set. Other options include double bound body, sparkle finish, paisley finish, colour-matched headstock, Amber and other pickups (all £POA)
  • RANGE OPTIONS: CB, JM and VB versions – see website for details
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISHES: Aged Inca Silver (as reviewed) from wide range of colour options – aged gloss nitro (body); satin nitro (neck)

Specs

Kauffmann Cozy TM

Kauffmann Cozy TM

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: £2,599 (inc gigbag)
  • ORIGIN: Netherlands
  • TYPE: Double-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: Double-bound paulowina
  • NECK: Quarter-sawn roasted maple, rounded C profile, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Bone/42.92mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, ‘clay’ dot inlays, 254mm (10”) radius
  • FRETS: 21, medium (Dunlop 6150)
  • HARDWARE: Gotoh tune-o-matic-style bridge with lightweight aluminium stud tailpiece, Gotoh SD91 vintage Kluson-style tuners – aged nickel plating
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 51.5mm 
  • ELECTRICS: Cream T BFG Banger humbucker (bridge), Cream T The Duke P90 single coil (neck), 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, master volume and tone control
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 2.8/6.16
  • OPTIONS: The base price is approx. £2,399. Upcharges here are the double-bound body. Other options, sparkle finish, paisley finish, colour-matched headstock, Lollar Imperial and Cream T Whiskerbucker pickups
  • RANGE OPTIONS: See Kauffmann TL
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISHES: Aged 3 Tone Sunburst (as reviewed) from wide range of colour options – aged gloss nitro (body); satin nitro (neck)
  • CONTACT: Kauffmann's Guitar Store (opens in new tab)

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Dave Burrluck
Dave Burrluck

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.