Info on Sam Koontz

Posted by Jerry on Mon, 01/07/02 - 00:42:47.

I just dug out my old early '60's electic. It was made by Sam Koontz in Linden, NJ and I've never seen another guitar remotely like it. Does anybody have any info on Koontz or his guitars? Are they collectible?



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Re: Info on Sam Koontz

: I just dug out my old early '60's electic. It was made by Sam Koontz in Linden, NJ and I've never seen another guitar remotely like it. Does anybody have any info on Koontz or his guitars? Are they collectible?

I don't know very much about Sam, but his shop foreman, Rod Shoepfer had a luthier shop in Linden as well. Rod was amazing and had several Koontz jazz guitars in his shop. His daughter was learning his craft when Rod passed away. Perhaps if you can find her, you can find out some Koontz info. I'd like to know if she is in business as I'd like to have her do some work for me!

Sorry that wasn't much real help... but perhaps you're a better detective than me.
Alan

Re: Info on Sam Koontz

Have a friend that has a Standel Arch Top Guitar, Model 1000S crafted by Sam Koontz. Does anyone know what these might sell for?

Re: Info on Sam Koontz

: I just dug out my old early '60's electic. It was made by Sam Koontz in Linden, NJ and I've never seen another guitar remotely like it. Does anybody have any info on Koontz or his guitars? Are they collectible?

Re: Info on Sam Koontz

A friend of mine has one of his guitars and swears it is one of the best he has ever played...do you still have it?

Mike C

: : I just dug out my old early '60's electic. It was made by Sam Koontz in Linden, NJ and I've never seen another guitar remotely like it. Does anybody have any info on Koontz or his guitars? Are they collectible?

Re: Info on Sam Koontz

Sam Koontz was an exceptional craftsman who made beautiful instruments in the late '60s early '70s. My brother had one...it was constructed with the finest wood and electronics and had great sustain. If I remember correctly, it was an eighteen inch body, semi-hollow like a 335 with an ebony board, nice inlays and chrome hardware. He also was THE guy to go to in the area for repairs and mods. He refretted my Les Paul way back when and it plays like butter. His carved archtop Jazz guitars were amazing.

: A friend of mine has one of his guitars and swears it is one of the best he has ever played...do you still have it?

: Mike C

: : : I just dug out my old early '60's electic. It was made by Sam Koontz in Linden, NJ and I've never seen another guitar remotely like it. Does anybody have any info on Koontz or his guitars? Are they collectible?

Koontz Guitars

Sam Koontz was a MASTER Craftsman. I saw one of his guitars after he died going for $15,000. It was an arch top jazz box.

Sam Koontz Guitars

Sam Koontz Guitars

by Wayne Wesley Johnson

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Sam Koontz made his first guitar, a classical, in 1959, followed by a solid body bass and carved top jazz guitar in 1960. Since then he had made over 200 additional guitars, each with the unmistakable craftsmanship and sense of design for which Sam was renowned.

Prior to setting up his own shop in Linden, N.J. (1970) Sam worked as a shop foreman for the Framus line importer; later he designed guitars for the Framus factory while working for Philadelphia Music Co. Design work was also done for Martin Co. during this tenure.

Sam was then assigned the task of developing the Standel and Harptone guitar lines, including the manufacturing procedures. In some cases he even designed the machinery which was used to manufacture the instruments. In his Linden shop, he continued to fashion beautiful and beautifully sounding guitars, along with custom work and repairs.

An innovative craftsman, he was continually looking for and working toward improvements and refinements for fretted instruments. Sam constructed many experimental guitars. One, a double-neck six and twelve-string acoustic, may have been the first of its genre. Another, a self-contained electric guitar/amp/tape recorder, was conceived with the idea of solo performances, which could be captured on tape immediately. Conversely one could play the tape with pre-recorded accompaniment. It even had speakers and sufficient amplification to drive them. Naturally, it was both battery and AC compatible. This effort consumed hundreds of hours in Sam's estimation, but was typical of the manner in which he attacked things.

Sam also created the "Studio One" guitar for Wayne Wesley Johnson, which was a beautiful natural 16" archtop jazz guitar outfitted with customized D'Armond pickups and built-in on-board studio phaser and flanger…providing for the same stage tones as used in the recording studio. He built an archtop guitar-organ synthesizer for Pat Martino. He also built Johnson a thin line double cutaway guitar-organ/synthesizer. A beautiful natural curly maple electric guitar with the fingerboard frets sliced and wired from underneath with MCI organ electronics and run inside the neck under the fingerboard to an electronics PC board mounted within the guitar's body. A Steiner/Parker monophonic analog synthesizer was provided externally and triggered by the guitar…way ahead of its time.

The interplay of clean design but a variety of features was always in Sam's mind. This is evidenced in ways, which are not always so obvious at first glance. An example of this interplay at work was his unique method of placing solid-body electronic hardware without need for a back-plate, thereby preserving the natural beauty of the guitar's back. Sam accomplished this by means of a side-plate (access beneath) which also acted as the mount for the guitar cable jack. Sam's main love, however, remained the acoustic-electric carved arched top and carved back jazz guitar, which he built in 15"-18" widths, along with at least three different choices for neck scale length, and two choices in peghead designs…which Sam designated as single scroll or double scroll patterns.

Many fine players, including Pat Martino, Howard Krive, Wayne Wesley Johnson, Vic Cenicola and Harry Leahey purchased their instruments from Sam, in the past. Sam was always tinkering with newer, better ways to enhance their tone, beauty, durability, sustain, whatever it took to have the instrument perform the way he thought it should. A notable development in this class of guitars was the sound-hole closure, first used on the guitar made for Martino. It inconspicuously slid underneath the top when not in use. The closure eliminated the need to stuff foam rubber and other unmentionables in the opening to avoid feedback. The f-hole versions of this closure were a bit trickier, but Sam had the answer: tine hinges. A pinky through the f-hole is able to flip the closure in place.

Artist/collector Johnson remarks, "My favorite guitar of all time is the Oval-F personal model that Sam built for me, just prior to his death in the early 80's. It features a 17" body with oval hole and a single F hole on the bass side. The oval hole is fitted with the unique sound-hole closure mounted in a track. Sam built me the guitar with the single scroll headstock design and with abalone block inlays surrounded with stirling silver borders…absolutely gorgeous to behold. My guitar, was finished in a sunburst finish and has incredible tone and sustain… Out of all the guitars I've ever owned this one is unquestionably, my favorite guitar."

All in a lifetime's work, for Sam Koontz.
------------------------------------------------
Wayne Wesley Johnson - drummer, guitar player, recording artist, and contributing consultant to Just Jazz Guitar Magazine. He has developed a playing style of his own - an integration of different techniques, which he refers to as "Jazzamenco." Additionally, Wayne has been a vintage guitar collector since 1959, and has had as many as 100 guitars in his collection, several of which are featured on his recordings. To learn more about Wayne Wesley Johnson, his music, and his collection, visit his website at http://www.Wannadu.com.

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