Defunct Musical Instrument Manufacturers - B & C

Defunct Musical Instrument Manufacturers - B & C

Banana (USA - guitar amps 80's) See --> Evetscorp

A small Danish builder of electric bass guitars and a specialist bass guitar retailer based in København (Copenhagen). Started making basses in 1987 and quickly gained an excellent reputation for quality and were noted for unusual pickup and active electronics design (for the time). Owners Henrik Thomsen, who was responsible for designing the electronics used in the basses and Christian Celinder who was responsible for the builds parted ways in 1990 when Hr. Celinder started making basses under his own name. Not to be confused with Basslab in nearby Germany.

Bill Roscoe Double Reeds See --> Chartier LLC

Bingenheimer & Kortmann
An musical instruments store and guitar workshop founded by guitarist Rolf Bingenheimer and instrument builder Thomas Kortmann in 1981, and was based in Oberursel, in Hesse, Germany. In addition to retailing and repairing guitars, basses and amplifiers, the company built custom instruments under the B&K label and in the latter half of the 80's started to serially produce some models of both acoustic and electric guitars & basses in low volumes.

The company quickly gained some notoriety locally for their custom built guitars and basses and since at the time they were often cheaper than imported factory made instruments of lower quality. Note that while the current Kurtmann range is pure high end custom stuff and electric guitars only, the B&K range was wider and included not only electric guitars and basses, but semi-acoustics and steel string acoustic guitars as well, the quality range is also wider, while there were high end products from the workshop the bulk of their produce was more in the mid range and the company also made some low end models that have a somewhat crude build quality. This has made the B&K instruments something worth looking out for since the presence of the cheap models has meant that the second hand price of all the brands guitars has been somewhat depressed in the last few year and it has had the result that you have often been able to pick up examples of their mid range and custom models at quite agreeable prices.

The partnership split up in the early or mid 90's due to disagreements over business matters, Hr. Kortmann has since set up shop as Kortmann Guitars and is now best known for his Les Paul style guitars of stunning quality although he does other models, Hr. Bingenheimer however left the musical instrument business.

Blue Jay See --> Shar Products (Classical string instrument bags & cases)

BooMedia (DirectX plugins) See --> Joeaudio Ltd.

Breitmann (Pianos & grands) See --> Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik GmbH

Brooklyn Gear

A trading company founded in 2001 by Adam Levy and based in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Distributed a number of bass and guitar related products in the USA, initially Pickboy and EBS but soon started to sell bass guitars made in South Korea with the initial idea being that they would be sold under the Brooklyn Gear brand, however after contacting Ken Smith Basses in 2001 for help in designing the instruments it was decided to instead license the KSD brand from Ken Smith and base the basses on the “Burner”, but that had been a line of fairly inexpensive instruments manufactured in Japan that KS had offered as an alternative to their main product line from the late 1980’s up until 1998.

The first KSD branded models shipped in 2002 and remained relatively unchanged until 2005 when production was moved to China, at a similar timeframe the company got a new logo and started shipping MI accessories under the Brooklyn Gear brand, that included guitar strings, capos, drum mutes, bass and guitar straps.

In early 2007 the company announced that it would no longer be selling KSD branded basses and that they would be handing over the KSD brand to D'Andrea, but at the same time showed off a new line of instruments built by the same Chinese company that manufactured the KSD basses, the first instrument shipped being a fairly keenly priced 8 string bass. A little later the same year the company started shipping guitar and bass guitar cabinets. However by 2008 it had become evident that the company was in trouble, orders from their webstore were not being fulfilled and so on and they went out of business later that year and were de-listed in 2009.

Resources: -- Brooklyn Gear blog. Dormant since early 2007.

Bruhn & Søn Orgelbyggeri (Pipe organs) See --> P. G. Andersen & Bruhn

Buescher See --> Conn-Selmer

Butterfly reeds See --> KHS Group

Camco See --> Hoshino Gakki (Drums - Japan - 70's)

Canavas Guitars See --> Sejung Musical Instruments Co.

Capitol (Student/beginner level instruments) See --> Grover-Trophy Music Company

Carlton Drums
Company founded in 1935 by J. E. Dallas & Sons when they decided to branch into the manufacture of drums by themselves but prior to that they had sold drums made by the Premier Percussion company under their own names. Carlton manufactured drums under both its own name and under another Dallas trademark Standard. The fortunes of the company faltered in the 1960's when the preference by pop drummers became for more resonant German and American drums and by the time Arbiter Group bought the Dallas Music Ltd. company in 1967 the Carlton company had been loosing money for years and was all but bankrupt, Arbiter thus closed the company down the same year.

However, Arbiter lost their UK distribution rights to the Ludwig drums and needed a drum brand to replace them with in a jiffy, so they created a new company and re-opened the Carlton factory under the Hayman Drums name.

Caveout (Mouthpiece puller) See --> Westkey Industries

C. Fox Guitars Inc.

A company founded in Heraldsburg, California, USA in 1997 by Charles Fox with financial backing from Tom Lee Music, but prior to the founding of the company guitars had been made with the C. Fox brand by Dana Bourgeois Guitars that were sold by Mr Fox and one of their main distributors had been Tom Lee.

The company made high end steel string guitars in the traditional German and American styles with very conservative material choices, nuts & saddles were bone, soundboards were Stika spruce, necks mahogany with ebony fingerboards, while the enclosure was made out of Honduras mahogany and Indian rosewood. Initially they made instruments in 4 styles, a Small Jumbo that as the name suggests was smaller than the common American Jumbo guitar, a Dreadnought and Concert models alongside the Hybrid that was a steel string guitar with the body of a classical guitar, that model was available with a 12 or 14 fret neck while all the other models featured a 14 fret necks.

There were 2 interesting aspects to the C. Fox designs, they all featured Dual action truss rod and had carbon graphite rails embedded into the fingerboard that made the neck stiffer, in addition the action of the instrument was low so it suited the generation of players that had previously only played electric instruments. Prices were moderate in comparison with current prices for such hand built instruments, most models were around 2000 USD including case while even the top models with all available options etc. did not reach 5000 USD.

The company introduced the “X-Series” in 2001 which was an interesting concept in many respects, the models were similar to its existing line-up but used scalloped X brazing on the voiceboard which was the usual way German style guitars were built in the USA up until the second world war when the simpler modern bracing was introduced for cost reasons. While X bracing is by many considered superior to the modern one especially when it comes to the performance of the bass registers most attempts to re-introduce the X bracing have not fared well, notably Gibson had attempted to use it in the 70’s but they did not catch on as people thought they sounded terrible, but it has to be remembered that Gibson was in the doldrums quality wise at the time.

The C. Fox factory was making about 250 instruments a year, this was enough to keep the company floating and returning a small profit but main owner Tom Lee Music was unhappy about the sales, they had hoped to build the brand up in Asia as a quality acoustic brand but the lack of name recognition meant that growth was non-existent, by 2001 they decided to withdraw from the operation and the company was closed down. Mr Fox and his wife went on to open up the American School of Lutherie and that operation manufactures guitars not dissimilar to the models C. Fox was making but considerably more expensive though.

Resources: -- A field trip of the C. Fox factory from 1999.

Champion (Student/beginner level instruments) See --> Grover-Trophy Music Company

Chicago Jazz Series See --> GTRC Services (USA - student level saxophones and brass instruments - 2000's)

Christian Hellinger und Drazen Vlahovic GbR

German company founded in 1999 by 2 gentlemen of the same name, was based in Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg and traded using the Yellowtools brand. Initially the company sold sample library CD-ROM’s that focused squarely on samples of acoustic instruments but the company introduced a simple free VST plugin called Independence in 2001 that allowed user to play back the samples from the company without owning a hardware or software sampler.

In 2003 the company released a further development of the Independence engine in the form of plugins they called “Modular Virtual Instruments” or MVI, these included a drum & percussion instrument called Culture, an electric bass instrument called Majestic and a saxophone one called Candy. These 3 were not synthesisers but sample libraries with a playback engine specifically adapted to the characteristics of each instrument they emulated, something well known in the field of home and performance organs where algorithms that translate keyboard phrasings to something that is more appropriate for the instrument they are trying to emulate have been known since the 1980’s, but this was something new to the pro audio industry and with a well-chosen array of samples that included not just notes but as in the case of the Candy samples of trills, tongue slaps, spiccato and other non-note or multi-note events allowed you to construct some impressively realistic saxophone lines on your PC.

In early 2006 the company released Independence as a standalone product, it was now a fully-fledged software sampler that competed with Steinberg Halion and Kontact but sold at a much more attractive price. The sample playback engine that the company shipped with its own sample libraries and by then also licenced to other companies on an OEM basis, was renamed to simply Engine, at the same time the company shipped a companion product to Independence called Freedom that was a suite of effect plugins that could work as either standalone VST units or encapsulated into a virtual frame, the Freedom suite was fairly run of the mill sound wise and was quickly folded into Independence and by 2008 no longer sold separately.

We were under the impression that some of the products from the company were selling rather well but activity seen from the company slowed down in 2008 and few if any updates were seen from then on, the company became mostly unresponsive in 2010 except for offering independence on a “fire sale” and by 2011 service could only by had via their distributors and the only product that they were updating was the OEM engine, in the middle of that year Magix bought the technology and IP and is now selling the effect suite and the Independence sampler as separate products while the sample library has been folded into other Magix products. The company’s website is still up though and updates and utility downloads are still available from there.

Clef Products (Electronics) Ltd.
Company founded in 1978 and based in Bramhall, Stockport, Cheshire in the UK and initially specialised in manufacturing electronic pianos. Although founded in 78 the owner Alan. J. Boothman had actually been trading since 1972, we believe selling electronic components and parts for electric pianos and organs as a part time organisation, and had been using the Clef Products name since 1975 at the least. Mr. Boothman worked as a design engineer at Ferranti but in 1975 he published a series of construction article in the English electronic magazine Practical Electronics (P. E.) that detailed how to build an electronic piano that was called P. E. Joanna, that design was both quite advanced for its time and also unusually complex a DIY construction project but it contained 12 voice card PCB’s plus an pre-amp/voice assignment card in addition to a hefty power supply.

Mr. Boothman started advertising the Joanna for sale in fully built, and in kit and component form but the kit seems to have been popular enough for all the usual suspects that traditionally offered kits for P.E. projects such as Phonosonics have a version of it on offer and appears to have sold quite well. In 1978 the company also offered another P.E. design by Mr. Boothman in kit form only in the shape of the Clef String Ensemble string synthesiser, in addition updates were made to the electric piano design that featured amongst others a built in speaker and amplifier shipped as standard, the line-up was also expanded to include a version with a 7 & 1/4 octave keyboard in addition to the 6 octave one and a cheaper “Stage Piano” version was also offered, the Joanna name was dropped and the 3 resulting models simply called the “Electronic Piano”.

In 1982 the company introduced the product it is best known for these days in the form of the Clef Microsynth (Later the B30 Microsynth), a budget 2 oscillator analogue subtractive synthesiser that was the only product sold by the company that was not developed by Mr. Boothman but rather a design originally published in P.E. magazine as a construction article and conceived by Allan Bradford, it is similar conceptually to the slightly more complex Jen SX-1000 and EDP Wasp in that it uses digital electronics to keep down costs but with it come some operational oddities such as the use of a 0.35V/Octave control voltages meaning that the only other synth that it interfaced with was the EMS, but it was cheap and thus sold reasonably well.

Their most interesting product however arrived in 1984 in the form of the PDSG digital synthesiser, Mr. Boothman had become aquatinted with computing equipment during his time at Ferranti but in addition to computers and defence electronics they were one of the bigger British makers of digital IC's at the time, Ferranti was in fact the manufacturer of the fastest and cheapest DAC chips you could find worldwide in the 70’s. Boothman had therefore been experimenting with digital synthesis and sampling (or digitising as it was known at the time) since the latter half of the 70’s, initially working I believe with an Apple II computer but later with other 6502 based platforms. He amongst other things consulted on some of the early sampling equipment such as the Datel kits that were sold as add-ons for popular home computers at the time.

The first products from the company that featured digital electronics were introduced in 1979 but both featured analogue sound generators, the Master Rhythm is a simple programmable drum machine while the Band-Box was a combination of a sequencer, drum-machine, a monophonic synthesiser and a very simple polyphonic synthesiser. The Band Box was mostly intended as an accompaniment instrument but since it was fully programmable unlike typical such boxes it got some use by pop bands, in fact the full programmability may have been its Achilles heel since the better selling such units from Dr. Böhm, Wersi and Elka all featured mostly pre-programmed patterns that were much more user-friendly for amateur musicians that had little or no computer experience.

These 2 products did not sell well although we see the drum machine for sale from time to time, the really interesting product though is the innovative but badly marketed digital synthesiser that Clef Products had been mentioning as early as 1982 but did not release until the latter half of 1984 as the PDSG or the Programmable Digital Sound Generator. The PDSG is a fairly simple 32 oscillator polyphonic digital synthesiser with a built in touch sensitive keyboard housed in a case taken from one of Clef’s electric pianos, the PDSG required a BBC Micro as a host controller. The oscillator architecture of the unit is similar but better sounding than the Mountain Computer Music System used in the Passport Soundchaser and Alpha Syntauri, but the Mountain board had 24 oscillators and in the Soundchaser/Jen only 16 were used for voice generation, the remaining 8 are hardcoded as LFO's, this made the PDSG more flexible than the Apple II based systems and although it was fairly expensive at the time it was cheap on the whole next to professional digital synths and less than half of what the Apple II based systems were retailing for, and that does not take into account that the Acorn BBC B host computer was considerably cheaper than the Apple as well.

However the PDSG failed in the market completely due to being introduced at the same time as another BBC B based synth, the Acorn Music 500 that was a strikingly similar concept except that it was modular, the PDSG had been initially announced as being available in parts with a separate keyboard retailing for 200 pounds, a synthesiser module for another 200 and a comprehensive software package for yet further 200 but when it was shipped it was as a one box complete systems that retailed for 495 UKP including software. The Music 500 on the other hand could be bought with a just the synthesiser module which could be used completely independently due to the presence of a music programming language, an optional keyboard, expander and MIDI interface was available that all in all made the Acorn system ending up costing more than the PDSG when all the needed options had been put together, but the starting costs were cheaper and Acorn had a proper distribution channel whereas Clef did not, and to add insult to injury the bandwidth and waveform capability of the Music 500 oscillators was much better than what the PSDG had to offer even though the architecture of the latter was considerably more flexible, making the PDSG pretty much a doomed effort from the day that the Acorn product was announced.

By 1985 the product lines of the company had basically become unsellable, the analogue electronic pianos & drum machines in addition to the monophonic and string synths were about as fashionable in the mid 80’s as flared trousers and tie & dye garments and thus were not leaving the workshop in any numbers, the PDSG was a flop and as it was the only new product they had to offer the inevitable happened and Clef was shut down in 1985. Note that during its latter years the company appears to either sometimes trade as Clef Electronics or have its name commonly misprinted by the press as such.

Copeland Woodwinds
USA based company that manufactured high end tin flutes and whistles. Founded in early 1999 by businessman Jim Rementer and flutemaker and ex-jeweler Michael Copeland. Manufactured tunable high end tin whistles in a variety of keys and materials and later started to manufacture keyless flutes made out of wood, the company remained best know for their Low D whistles for which there seemed to be an endless waiting list.

Closed down in late 2006 after a disagreement between the partners in the company, Mr. Copeland continued on his own for a few month before he decided to semi-retired from the business, he is still wiling and able as of 2010 to repair flutes made by the company and also manufactures a little bit but there is a very long waiting list for new ones, contact details below..

Resources : -- Interview with Michael Copeland from 1999
Michael Copeland, PO Box 305, Lima, PA 19037, USA.
E-Mail: copelandwoodwinds )at)

Cortini See --> David Wexler & Co. (Accordions ca 1950's to 90's)

Crestline (Manuscript paper) See --> Grover-Trophy Music Company

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