Really Well-Known Danceband Guitar, L-5 influenced, Cremona Brown finish & reported to have Carved Top. Wider Fingerboard 48mm. Nut Width.
*** 27/12/2016 - Preliminary Availability Announcement.

*** Update - I am grateful to Tomas Dvorak of the Schönbach Guitar Gallery in Prague, who has confirmed that this is the carved top model made around 1935, and has indeed arranged it's purchase and return to the Czech Republic!
*** 01/01/2017 - Immediate sale, in existing condition, to buyer in Prague, Czech Republic....the guitar's homeland!

Radiotone is yet another name which has been revived, from the venerable history of guitar-making, to adorn new instruments from the Far East, but this is one of the small number of scarce original instruments, made from the 1930s, possibly through to the early 1950s. Radiotones from that period are so far below the radar, it seems, that some well-known sites listing guitar-makers do not even include them.

My own knowledge of guitar-making from that period is much more secure in relation to USA made guitars, rather than European, so I'm afraid I have had to pick up snippets of information from the little information from other websites and the few sales listings available, but I am continuing to make enquiries. Links to the main information sources I have found are included in the Main Description section below.
Stock Number: VTG1541.

It is clear from the modicum of information available and from initial inspection, that this is indeed a very nice vintage archtop guitar. Having said that, and as I mention above I am out of my familiar territory of Harmony & Kay Archtops, Stella parlors & other similar '30s to '70s USA-made guitars, so any additional information anyone can help me with, on this excellent Radiotone will be much appreciated!

The limited information I have to date has come primarily from the websites or advertisements on these links:

Although there are no labels, model numbers or dating information visible on the guitar itself, reference to the Photogallery in the Schönbach Guitar Gallery (website links above & below) clearly identifies it as the model number as 7812, and the earlier version too!

All the sources do appear to agree on likely dating (even The Who Gear site, which first suggests that the cutaway Radiotone which was the first guitar Pete Townsend played was 1952, then goes on to confirm it was 1936), as between 1935 & 1938, although I have not seen any direct makers information on that.

The details I can confirm first hand are the dimensions, although there is a discrepancy between the actual body width and the width stated in the original advertisement included in the Photogallery to the Schönbach Guitar Gallery, in that the body is 16.25"/41cm., rather than the 15.5" stated there. these two sizes seem to have been standard at that time, as they are the same as the two standard Harmony archtop sizes that I am so familiar with....the larger Harmony models being nominal stated as 16.5", but actually measures close to 16.25". The Radiotone is, however, slightly deeper bodied, with a 3.6"/9.1cm depth, compared with 3.4"/8.6cm. on the Harmonys. Scale length is 25"/633mm., and as I mentioned earlier, those who prefer the extra finger-room offered by wider necks will love this one with a width of 48mm. (1.89") at the nut.
As far as I can tell, the guitar is entirely original, already quite playable, and when I finish the fairly limited schedule of restoration works, it will be in sound & great working condition!

Original, distinctly ornate 3-on-a-plate tuners remain and are fully operational. Original Chrome tailpiece likewise intact, with minimal age-related discolouration. Original white bound, dark tortoiseshell pickguard is also complete, including the original support/fixing bracket, and bridge locator pin. It does have an area of wear and a partial fine crack, just next to the bracket. This may have been secured/repaired previously, but we will remove it for inspection and further reinforce it if necessary.

Original Nut may or may not be bone, not sure yet, until I have a closer look at it, but with the zero-fret in place, it is really no more than a string spacing guide. As such e may decide to replace it, as the existying spacing really does not take full advantage of the extra fingerboard width on the guitar. The 48mm. nut width should allow an E-E string spacing of 40mm./41mm., but in fact it is about 37.5mm.....no more than you would expect on one of my Harmonys, with 44.5mm. nut width. I will consider with the luthier I work with the best option, and also review with him the condition of frets & fingerboard. Some wear irregularities can be seen in the fingerboard, and there is a degree of general fret wear, so the question will be whether frets can be stone & re-profiled, in conjunction with local treatments on the fingerboard, or whether the original frets should be removed to enable the fingerboard to be re-levelled, and then re-fretted.

The floating bridge appears original, complete with the thumbwheel adjusters, but does have slight damage to the integral saddle, and came here installed the wrong way round. We will check it over and complete any necessary repairs/adjustments. Part of the treble-side fingerboard binding is loose, and this will be re-fixed, in conjunction with other work on the fingerboard.

Overall, the condition is considered to be as good as you will find on a circa 80 year old vintage archtop acoustic - as I hope you can see in the photos, it remains a superbly handsome guitar! Cosmetically, of course, there are marks, but again I consider the guitar to be overall very good - the original finish has local marks, chips and scratches, without which it would not be a genuine 1930s/40s vintage guitar. Overall it is smart for a guitar this age, with a lot of original shine and depth of colour to the superb, dark, Cremona Sunburst!
Action, strings & cases
On completion of the restoration we will be looking to set the guitar up with a good archtop action of around 3mm. at the 12th fret at the moment it is between 3mm. & 4mm., but as mentioned it came with the bridge reversed, which does not help), although some archtop players might like it a bit higher, but hopefully there may scope to raise this on the adjustable bridge to suit. It will be re-strung with a set of Martin Bronze Light 12-54 or similar strings, unless a buyer specifies another type.

The original moulded case, as shown in the photos, is included....as it came to me, it could do with a good clean out, but all 5 latches & all 3 hinges work, but no key to the locking latch, and the missing handle has been temporarily replaced with a plastic tie....with a bit od searching, you should be able o find a Gibson style buckled replacement strap.


I have a stock of guitars which is added to regularly, but some tend to take a little time to find their way through my workshop, so if you do not see what you are looking for on my website currently, please enquire - who knows, I may have just what you are looking for!

*** YOUTUBE ***

YouTube clips of the model Radiotone archtop seem to be limited to only one, which I have embedded, and on info. from Tomas Dvorak the commentator might be correct in indicating that, unlike this solid timber/carved top 7812, the guitar in the YouTube clip may be an inferior laminate version, and possibly may also have a narrower nut width...as indicated the guitar on sale here has a nut wider than 1.75", plus the use of fitted electric strings & pickups.
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JP Guitars website, recent project notes- 7812 Archtop Guitar.

"This mid-1930s Radiotone 7812 is the sort of instrument big band jazz guitarists bought in the UK, at that time - Gibsons and other high end American instruments were rarely available (or affordable).

Radiotones were made in Schönbach, a small town in Czechoslovakia (today Luby u Chebu in the Czech Republic), which was an important lutherie centre before World War 2. It's a proper carved top archtop, which makes more than a nod in the direction of Gibson's L-5 and L-7 models. Solid spruce top, flame maple back and sides and the ebony on the fingerboard is of a quality you just can't find these days. Interestingly, the end pin was the termination of a steel rod that went right through the body and engaged with a threaded insert in the heel block. This wasn't used to adjust the action as the neck joint was a glued mortice and tenon type, but rather to ensure stability."

Pre-War Gibson L-5 Owners' Club, notes on European Guitars, referencing Tomas Dvorak of the Schönbach Guitar Gallery:-

European Guitars - "According to Tomas Dvorak (http://schoenbach.webnode.cz/) the Radiotone, Coletti and Avalon guitars featured here were made in Schönbach in the mid to late 1930s and distributed in the UK by Dallas (dates of manufacture are arrived at according to their appearance in dated catalogues).

Schönbach was the name of a small town which in the 1930s was in Czechoslovakia (today called Luby u Chebu in the Czech Republic). Located just a few kilometers from Markneukirchen, Germany (where C.F. Martin was born), it was the centre of string instrument making in central Europe before the WWII.

The guitars pictured below are hand carved from solid timbers using spruce and maple for the bodies and beech for the necks. The fingerboards and bridges are ebony (unless otherwise indicated) and the finish is nitrocellulose. Details include mother of pearl inlays and celluloid pickguards.

Though none are exact copies of the L-5, they illustrate the influence that Gibson’s groundbreaking archtop had on guitar manufacturers throughout the world. Dark sunburst finish – similar to the Cremona brown finish found on early L-5s. Bound top, back, pickguard and 21 fret fingerboard with a rounded end and small parallelogram pearl inlays. Unbound headstock is inlaid with ‘Radiotone logo’ and ‘sharp’ headstock motif in pearl. Simple trapeze tailpiece. According to Tom, this is an early example."
Useful links
Link JP Guitars website - recent project notes - Radiotone 7812
Link to Schönbach Guitar Gallery Photogallery Radiotone 7812 Early Model
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