| lordbizarre's electric guitar & amp museum
Electric guitars and basses from Poland
at “lordbizarre’s electric guitar and amp museum“
Leuven, Belgium, €pe
One of the first guitars/basses (known by me) seem to be build by an accordion factory: Bydgoska Fabryka Akordeonow (Accordion factory of Bydgosk). The bass produced by this factory was called “Lotos”. This Lotos was, together with the “Samba”, a far copy from the Hägstrom guitars from Sweden.
The body and electrics were of good quality, and so were the tuners and sliding switches: a linea recta copy from the Van Ghent tuners Hâgstrom used. Also the perforated metal sheet between the pu’s resembles a Hägstrom. The strange thing about the Lotos is that the tuners are mounted upside down ... Rather a good view than efficiency?
It’s now clear that some Samba's were also manufactured by the accordion factory and by the Defil company. Rumours state that Defil took over the Bydgoska factory and manufactured their guitars there also. Short: the Samba is similar to the Lotos in construction. Samba’s can be found with or without a Defil logo on the headstock. The Lotos came in a orange colour.
The head, pick-up’s, pickguard and vibrato are clearly copied from Hägstrom!
These bass and electric guitar can be dated by the potmeters (electric circuit) to be from around 1966. The Lotos and Samba have offset cutaways and no bindings on body or neck, and for Samba 6-a-side tuners.
The same pu’s (rounded black Hägstrom copy pu’s) could also be found on some semi-acoustic models. Presumably these came also from the 60’s and were called Malwa. The 3 pu’s have the same construction as the Samba & Lotos. They had a glued on neck. Although they were archtop, they were made from triplex (3 layers of wood glued together) and pressed into archtop form. The 1-rounded body has two f-holes and a wooden bridge, 4 pot’s and a stoptail. The neck has bindings and dot markers.
From the same time (according the pot’s ...) came the Jola. This electric guitar seems to be the start of a long series of electric guitars and basses, until the “2“ series took over in the mid 70’s.
As the Samba and the Lotos, the Jola also has a truss rod, so the guitar could be adjusted after years of heavy duty and detrimental environmental circumstances ...
But the pick-up’s changed. Now they turned from the Hägstrom copy to an own factory design, and were used for the next decennia. The square or rectangular pu’s offered the possibility to adjust them, not in the way we know by adjusting screws, but by raising or lowering the pu’s (in any form, such as rubber strips, wooden blocks or even folded paper ... you name it).
The body, was like the Samba, very heavy and solid. The guitars and basses seem to be always painted in red, don’t know why but I’ve never saw another shade.
It’s also the first guitar I’ve seen with a serial number (here 1103), but with the neck plate in aluminium instead of chromed steel or bronze. This can also be found on Julia and Echo from around ‘72
In the semi-acoustic range Defil started to produce a range of copy’s from the Western World. They had a 335 copy which was used for a 6-string, 12-string and a bass model. One had the “Melodia” name as a six string, the “Echo” as the 12-string and a “Rytm” as a bass. They all used the square metal covered pu’s. The electrics were mounted on a small oval shaped pickguard, with indications for use of the pot’s: bass; treble and volume.
There’s some confusion about those 335 series: here also there was a Malwa, not as the semi-acoustic mentioned above, but with pu’s with adjustable pole pieces as on the next Jola22.
The archtop body’s have equal cutaways; the heads 3-a-side tuners; f-holes and the necks have Höfner-like bar markers.
Body and neck have bindings, while the head is covered with exotic wood. On head and body are the plastic factory and model logo.
Besides the 335 copy, there was also a violin shaped Höfner bass copy: “Romeo”, and also the guitar version ... yes the “Julia”. They were also archtop.
Made out of triplex, with bolt-on neck and truss rod. These models also carried a serial number on their neckplate.
Some of the Julia’s have the black Hägstrom copy pu’s but adapted in the metal housing from the square pu’s. So some black pu’s are fixed into the metal housing and visible; other black pu’s are fixed into the metal housing and covered with pearloid plastic!
All the Julia’s have a wooden bridge and an old style stoptail as the Malwa, some with the Defil logo on it.
The head was covered with a layer of exotic wood and the plastic Defil logo.
The necks are made of 3 layers (for guitars) and 5 layers (for bass) wood. Always beech with (looks like-) mahogany strips. Although these are very attractive, some of the mahogany strips aren’t in the centre, due to less quality?
These instruments had one round soundhole between the pu’s; little round pickguard; bindings on their neck’s and a truss rod. The Defil logo was glued on the head, and the model name on the body above the neck pu. Although the bass tuners are high quality, the Julia tuners aren’t.
The above pictured instruments all date from the early 70’s, the Echo from 1972.
Around that time, there were also Melodia’s; Jola’s and Julia’s with some different pu’s. Those pu’s had adjustable polepieces, so the pu’s were much larger than the usual ones. It seems to me that in those days, the guitars with such a pu carried the “22” after the model name. The only 22 model I have is a ”Jola22”, unfortunately not complete ... There's also a "22" bass with the same Hägstrom copy pu's (from Hägstrom Impala/Corvette), but don't know the model name. This bass has the same body as the Lotos, although ticker, massif wood.
This guitar has clearly another influence: Germany! The pickguard looks like an East-German Musima, the vibrato like a East-German Migma and/or Meinel und Herold.
Jola22 wasn’t the only guitar with German influences! Proof here is the “BasTon”. This bass carries a West-German Framus Strato de Luxe copied head. Most of the guitars also had Höfner-like bar markers.
This brings us to the next period: the “2“.
All of the previous guitars (except Lotos; Samba and Jola) can be found from 1977 in a much cheaper version. They all carry the 2 behind their model name. So: “Jola2”; “Melodia2”; “Echo2; “Rytm2”; “Julia2”; and so on ...
These instruments had some changes as pickguards, but also didn’t had a truss rod. So many can be found with bended necks, although the necks were made out of 3 layers of wood. Another difference is the logo: instead of a plastic glued-on logo, there was a decal on the head. However the plastic model name stayed on the body. They are the same body shape as the early 335 shape, equal cutaways, 1 f hole, no bindings on the neck.
The Echo2’s all had a wooden bridge, all others metal bridges.
The pickguard changed: it supported the pu’s, with sliding pot’s instead of the usual ones, switches and jack. The pickguard came in brown, white or painted (gold-brownburst). Most of the heads weren’t painted anymore.
Here’s a publicity from 1977, with some acoustic guitars; the BasTon & Jola2; the Julia2 & Rytm2.
The f hole from Julia2 is an original factory design :counter clockwise cat’s-eye with little cutout.
Those guitars all came from the late 70’s. On the pub one can see that the ’77 pu’s are still metal housed.
In the 80’s the quality further went down: for the semi-acoustic range the bodies weren’t archtop but flat, and the pu’s weren’t metal anymore, but with plastic housings. One of the semi-acoustic models was the "Jowita". A flattop with two pu’s and “cat’s-eyes” f-holes.
The electrics were made on a printed circuit board and the toggle switch was some adapted sliding switch. An interesting fact is that each pcb carry the models name, so one can found the model name on the incorporated pcb. Although there was an intermix later on with pcb’s from different model names!
Some of the heads are clearly Ibanez copied: same design as Ibanez Musician, so even Japan had his influence on Polish guitar making.
But one of the highlights from the 80’s is the “Aster”. This was clearly a LesPaul copy, with a heavy body, a bolt-on neck, two pu’s, toggle switch and truss rod. Here also a pcb with the electrics. Each pcb had the model name on them. Those pcb’s were also used in the “Kosmos”, a Gibson Moderne copy, in the “Luna2” or “Luna22” bass. These guitars were often used by HeavyMetal bands in Poland. The neck’s are often 5-layers, so reasonably stable
Although these guitars were made to reach many guitarists the quality didn’t appeal greatly: lot of Aster’s and Kosmos’s are transformed with better pu’s; better output jack’s (the DIN jack was often used in the East-European country’s); bridges and tuners. Those tuners were not user friendly; pu’s were changed to humbuckers to give more output, bridges to be more use-reliable ...
One of the most remarkable things about Defil is that all necks are good playable until the 13th fret, then the neck thickens for fixation on the body. Sometimes the body side of the neck is two times the thickness of the neck. Another fact is that all Defil necks have a zero fret!
What happened later on with Defil ... ? ... I don’t know. It seems that Defil still exists, but only manufacturing classic and acoustic guitars. In the 1997 Polskich Produktow Muzycnzych (a catalogue of all Polish musical instruments manufacturers) Defil is still mentioned, but only for acoustic guitars.
So that’s all, folks!
Up to the next challenge!
*ref : katalog 1997 Polskich produktow muzycznych
*ref : 1977 Dolnoslaska Fabryka Instrumentow Lutniczych publicity folder
*ref : all Defil guitars, retired in my museum after a long life of heavy
duty, abuses and good times in:
“lordbizarre’s electric guitar and amp museum” Leuven, Belgium, €pe
All dates and data are based on my personal experience and knowledge of the Polish guitar brand Defil, no guarantee though !!
Request: if you have any corrections, updates or additions: welcome!
These entire contents are © lordbizarre. No part may be used without permission !!!
Hereby a chronological overview of "lordbizarre's Defil family". I don't state that it is accurate, but it's done with the best of my knowledge of the Defil's in my museum.
Any comments are welcome if something seems wrong.
Since all guitars on display on my walls deserve some nicer background and/or wallpaper I use several extra's: some LP's (33 rpm); some singles (45 rpm); some schematics I have drown from the guitars and amps and also some old string packages.
The nicest one I have, is a mid 70's Picato pack with a hard rocking guitarist on it!
Those strings really add to the general view along the guitars!