Early Central European Manufacturers click for more

Lucien Gelas double front Soprano
Gélas double front Soprano
From very early on the the Ukuleles history there have been a number of instruments coming out of Germany (or Shoenbach, Southern Bohemia, a German speaking region of Czechoslovakia) These may have originally been designed as Cavaquinhos (but there was never a big market for them?) or something else? but they were being marked before WWI as "Hawaiian Mandolins"
The problem with early central European instruments is, as well as a lack of information about the firms who made them, the instruments themselves are usually unbranded so I'm left with some illustrations from old catalogues that give makers names or photos of instruments that were made in the region but its not clear by whom? Any help would be good...

Eugen Schuster

Majestic seems to have been the house brand used on all type of instruments including Taropatchs, Tiples and Banjoleles. it is unclear what they made and what they just distributed, but they were a European distributor for Dallas

Jose Fernandez, Saxony

I have seen a lot of instrument with this sound hole label, Mandolins, Violins and Ukuleles, all of which were made in the first half of the 20th century. Given the location though I am not sure if there was a Jose Fernandez with a factory or if this was one of the other German makers branding their instruments with an Iberian sounding maker's name? The Ukuleles themselves look very much more German, (apart from having no zero fret), than Iberian however and it seems odd though to include the location if they are trying to pull off this ruse? More information on the brand would be helpful.

Lucien Gélas

Originally from Menton, France, he is well known for inventing and patenting a Guitar design which uses a double top, often called a Gélas Guitar, double-top Guitar or even a double-resonance-Guitar in 1905. This Guitar had two tops with a resonating space between them and The inner top is not parallel to the outer one. Also the strings run through the bridge (which is on the inner top) and are attached at the bottom, so the plucked part of the string before the bridge is at an angle to the part of the string after the bridge. Once he had this design he also used it on other chordophone including Ukuleles. As well as his luthiery work, he was classical guitarist, composer and teacher. He won awards for his luthiery in 1907 and 1910 so clearly did make some of the instruments but given that he got a number of other luthiers to make some of his Guitars it is hard to say how much of a luthier he was in later life? He died in 1944.

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