Johann Gottfried Scherzer 1861

$100.00, PLAN-1

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This is a set of plans to enable builders to make authentic replicas of one of the most remarkable instruments ever made. This is a 10 string guitar, with 6 string on the fingerboard and 4 additional "theorboed" basses. It was made by Johann Gottfried Scherzer in 1861. I bought this guitar in 1988 from the famous Russian-Gypsy seven-string player Sergei Dmitrievich Orekhov (1935-1998). At the time I obtained the guitar, it was equipped with a neck for the Russian seven-string guitar. Here is a picture of Orekhov performing on this instrument on the old Melodiya LP where the instrument is featured.

Since the neck on Scherzer guitars is attached to the instrument with a screw, it can be removed and replaced. Fortunately, Orekhov had in this possession an authentic Scherzer double neck, and it was a simple matter to bring the guitar back to its original configuration. There are several legends circulating in Russia regarding the provenance of this guitar. Some say it was built by Scherzer for Nikolai Ivanovich Alexandrov (1818-1884), A Russian military officer and a prolific composer of music for the Russian seven-string guitar who retired from the Czarist army in 1860, a year before this guitar was built. After Alexandrov's death, the guitar is reputed to have been acquired by Vasilii Petrovich Lebedev (1867-1907), a remarkable player of the standard six-string guitar. A photograph of Lebedev with this guitar in hand can be seen on page 209 of the P.J. Bone Dictionary of Guitar and Mandolin. (Note 1).

Going through the hands of several owners during the Soviet era, the guitar ended up in the possession of Boris Khlopovsky, the well-known Russian collector, who sold it to Orekhov.

Since I acquired this guitar in 1988, it has been copied successfully by two famous luthiers, Richard Bruné and Garry Southwell. Both makers had the guitar in their possession for a considerable amount of time, and were able to copy it precisely. Several such copies have been acquired by performers and successfully employed in concerts and recordings. The current set of plans goes into considerable detail.  Competent luthiers should be able to make copies and thus explore a design paradigm that has been overlooked by history, and certainly deserve to be examined again.

These plans were drawn and prepared by Columbus luthier and Autocad expert Gary Demos. The set includes three full scale drawings and a CD containing detailed photographs of all parts of the guitar, both inside and out.

Matanya Ophee


1. This picture is scanned from the 1901 biography of Lebedev by Valerian Rusanov, from where, surely, P.J. Bone had copied it.

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Last Modified: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 11:09 AM