Defunct Musical Instrument Manufacturers

The aim of this page is to have minimal information on some of the companies and trademarks that are now either defunct, not in operation for any reason or have exited the musical instrument market altogether. The objective is to have information on each company similar to what appears on the links pages rather than a full history lesson, but pertinent, interesting or even just mildly unusual information may get thrown in as well. Also note that in most cases this is a company listing not a brand listing, brands listed here may have been sold or appropriated by other companies and may thus still be in use, but whenever possible links are provided to the previous and next brand owners. Due to the nature of the subject matter this page is perpetually under construction.

A&F Custom Guitar Services
A partnership founded in Riverside, California, USA in 2001 by Fred Stuart and Alan Hamel but they had both left Fender Custom Shop earlier that year. The company made boutique guitars called Rockitone based on a hybrid design by Stuart that had originally been proposed as a Fender CS product but rejected, and pickups for electric guitars called Blackguard that were developments of the pickups Hamel had made while working at Fender, these were sold under the A&F or Alan Hamel & Fred Stuart brands. In addition to the stock Rockitone models the company made custom models to order, mostly classic Telecaster and Stratocaster copies but basically would build or repair anything you wanted. After a fall out in 2003 the partners went their separate ways and founded Stuart Custom Guitars and Alan Hamel, both continuing to make basically the same products that A&F had been making.

A. H. Wilkinson & Co. Ltd.
Company based in Glasgow, Scotland although they did for a while have an outlet in Dublin, Ireland as well. Primarily a retailer of accordions and related popular instruments and seem to have been started somewhere around the turn of the 19th and 20th century's but is best known for the musical instruments they sold under the Wilkinson’s Excelsior or just plain Excelsior brands that were introduced in the 1920's or late 1910's, these were mostly accordions and related instruments like concertinas and melodeons made for them by German companies, mostly Hohner up until the second world war when they switched to Italian makers.

Note that some of their smaller instruments were only branded with a logo and not a name and that the accordions are similar to the ones Hohner was making for the English market at the time the difference being the tuning, the Scottish models are B/C the English C/C.

In the 1920's the company also ran a record label under the Waverley brand and published accordion/melodeon music by local artists and in locally popular music styles, eg. reels, rags and polkas etc., this appears to have been a marketing effort for their musical instruments more than a serious attempt at holding out a record label and was short lived.
Resources : -- Pics of the Waverley label

Alan Hamel
USA based maker of custom guitars and guitar pickups that struck out on his own after A&F Custom Guitar Services folded in 2003, soon got an almost legendary reputation in the USA for his pickups and apparently brisk sales that meant by 2005 there was a considerable backlog of orders. Mr Hamel hit some problems in 2005 including the passing of his wife, his former business partner had trademarked the Blackguard name that he was using on his pickups and all these and more seems to have convinced him to retire and the operation appears to have stopped altogehter in 2006. His former distributor, Ron Ellis is now manufacturing similar pickups.

Almenräder und Heckel See --> Wilhelm Heckel (Wind instruments 1831 to 1871)

Alpine (Flutes) See --> Grover-Trophy Music Company

Alton (Guitars, banjos & drums) See --> Red Tree Music Inc

Amdek See --> Roland (Kits, pedals & synths, 1981 to ca 1988)

AnyWay See --> Dommenget Custom Guitars

Arne Wilhelm Holmedal

Arne W. Holmedal in ca. 2005, Picture Copyright 2005 Holmedal Data

Swedish gentleman based in Östra Karup, in the Båstad Municipality of Kristianstadt County (now in Skåne County), that manufactured pedal steel guitars and electric guitars & basses from the early 70's under the AWH brand.

Hr. Holmedal was educated as a chemical engineer and had prior to starting the instrument business worked as such in nearby Uddevalla which was where he started making pedal steel guitars in his spare time in the late 60's, these were apparently initially inspired by guitar from the MSA Pedal Steel Guitars models of the day and it is from them that the AWH guitars got their all pull system but problems with the MSA mechanics and especially tuning prompted Holmedal to attempt to create a better guitar. A few models of those early prototypes made in Uddevalla guitars are floating around but apparently they are without model names or use one off names.

Although he also made electric guitars and basses after starting the operation in Östra Karup he is best known for his pedal steel guitars and as far as we can gather the only Nordic manufacturer of such machinery, initially offering a S-10 3+1 student model called AWH Viking and professional series called AWH Eminent that were available in a variety of configurations, but most models seen appear to be D-10's. A new line of PS guitars was introduced in 1979 along with a change in the brand name to AVM (no idea), a student model called AVM Falcon that was very similar to the Viking being made out of maple with an aluminium sub-frame and a professional model called AVM Eagle that had a wooden fret board and came standard with 3 raise and 3 lower knee levers but was also available in a variety of version including S-10 and D-10 with varying number of pedals.

There were also models from the company marked as "Custom", they were just that, custom made variants of main models rather than a product line in itself. In general and at least at the time the AWH models were considered mechanically superior to any of the American instruments that were being sold in the same timeframe and have proved to be more reliable as a rule in the long run, sound was more controversial, early models of the guitars used electric guitar pickups and there were some complaints that the guitars did not have the classic "Nashville" sound but sounded more like Fender pedal steels who also used pickups mostly identical to electric guitar ones, but as with any opinion about sound, best taken with a grain of salt. They are also as a rule considerably heavier than most modern PSG's.

The company stopped manufacturing instruments in 1982 and the rights to the design, trademark, specialised tooling and parts were sold to a Norwegian concern Morgan Instrument to finance the founding of a software company called Holmedal Data AB and Hr. Holmedal was with that concern until recently but we understand he has since retired but does do occasional consultation work. We have not been able to find out if any examples of AVM instruments were actually made by Morgan, apparently in 1989 Morgan re-sold the AVM operation to another Norwegian company called Steel Guitar Senteret based in Ikornnes in the Møre & Romsdal Municipality that did put together and sell a few AVM Falcon models between 1991 and 94 and then quit making and servicing instruments.

But some of the leftover stocks from the AVM operation in Norway have been used by independent builders to make instruments, Janne Elander from Örebro in Sweden has apparently put together a couple of guitars and so have others, however it seems that there are no more parts available at the least Steel Guitar Senteret does not list anything in their full catalogue.

Spares & service : There are no spares left anywhere it seems, since the failure rates of the instruments were low the original spare parts stock appears to have been sold to people making custom instruments or adding features to their own, the only exception is that some NOS or used parts show up for sale from time to time on the Swedish steel guitar forum (see below), some have had success using MSA spares for parts of the mechanism but be aware that although the mechanisms are related, the AWH has some very subtle but effective improvements so minor mods may be needed, later AVM instruments are quite different

Resources : -- Swedish steel guitar forum -- Pictures and info on the Eagle S-10 3+6 -- Pictures of the Double Eagle D-10 8+5 and a Viking 3+3 (further down the page with a Custom badge - Text in Swedish) -- Picture from 1974 of a Viking model.

Artistic Cover Products
Company founded in 1944 by the Wolf brothers in New York, USA, and operated as an OEM manufacturer of sewn cases for musical instruments. The company was sold in the mid 70's to Milton Rashkow who moved production to Paterson in New Jersey and re-incorporated it as M. R. Artistic. It was sold again to Frank Hallberg in 1994 who incorporated as a foreign corporation in California as Artisticover Inc but kept production in New Jersey, merly moving the factory from Paterson to nearby Guttenburg, while that company continued the OEM business it also added a line of retail products that they sold under the Urban Safari brand.

The Aristicover operation was sold to GWW Group in 2000 who incorporated the sewn bags line into their lines of OEM and Ameritage branded cases.

Artley See --> Conn-Selmer

Augustine (USA Classical guitars) See --> Frank Haselbacher (1969 to 1990) or Albert Augustine (1928 to 1968)

Avalon Guitars Ltd.

Northern Irish manufacturer of acoustic guitars that manufactured their guitars initially in NI, but later also sold instruments made in the Czech Republic and South Korea. Originally founded in 1988 and incorperated in 1989 as The Lowden Guitar Company Ltd., traded using the Lowden brand until 2002 but used the Avalon brand from then on and changed the company name in 2004. Company went bankrupt in mid May 2012 and by mid-June of the same year no one had come forward to buy the comany as a running operation.

AVM See --> Steel Guitar Senteret (Pedal steel guitars - Norway - 1991 to 1994) or Arne Wilhelm Holmedal (Pedal steel guitars - Sweden - 1979 to 1982

AWH See --> Arne Wilhelm Holmedal (Electric guitars/basses and pedal steel guitars - Sweden - ca 1968 to 1982

Axman See --> GTRC Services (USA - Guitar stands - ca 90's)

Next Page : Defunct musical instrument manufacturers - B & C -- Previous Page : Musical instrument manufacturers - X to 9

© 1993 - 2013 Ólafur Gunnlaugsson, all rights reserved.

The site was last compiled on Sun Nov 10 2013 at 9:15:00am