Any hungarian vintage guitars expert around here?

For guitars of the straight waisted variety (or reverse offset).
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HH1978
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Any hungarian vintage guitars expert around here?

Post by HH1978 » Thu Oct 08, 2020 1:13 pm

I picked up this one 5 years ago on ebay. I wasn't expecting much of it, and I bought it possibly only as a decoration piece because I liked the aesthetic and it was cheap (I paid 100€ including shipping). Then we moved house right after, and I more or less forgot about it.

Not sure what made me remember I had this guitar still packed in the cellar, but anyway, I unpacked it today.

Let's be honest, I expected an unplayable cheesy guitar, similar to soviet and czech production from the same era. But I was pleasantly surprised. It's totally playable, even with the old strings the previous owner had attached in his own fashion (see picture of the headstock).
The action isn't bad at all, except past 16th fret, where the fretboard has a dive to the body, but I never go that high on an acoustic anyway. Seems like the neck is screwed to the body, so resetting it, if needed ,should not be too difficult either.
Big neck, but as someone who enjoys old National Style O's and Triolians, that's not a complain.

It doesn't sound bad either. Of course, it's not a Martin, but for a100€ guitar, it deserves better than just hanging on the wall.

Anyway, I don't know much about it. The EMG pickup, obviously, can't be original, and the seller included a "similar pickup to original" because apparently, they're still in production. It's a Balogh pickup (or it was because I can't find it, so I might have lost it when we moved).

I can't tell how it sounds amplified, because with the phospor bronze strings and magnetic pickup, it's totally unbalanced as is, but at least it seems much more immune to feedback than expected.

The label inside reads "Szegedi Butor, Hangser Vallalàt", and it has a date stamp from january 9th, 1964.

I couldn't find much info on the factory, except they produced also double basses (and probably various other stringed instruments). I found a couple of pictures of guitars similar to mine, but without the bass side cutaway. Also one identical in shape but all natural finish, so mine could have refinished top and sides. They all seem to have a floating pickguard/pickups assembly. And mine has screw holes on the side where it would have been. So the ugly (but somehow fitting in the soviet era) green thing is a later addition. Not sure about the odd knob provenance, but probably not original to the guitar either.

It's not a valuable guitar, it's not a very good one either, but it's definetely not a bad one. If anyone knows more about these obscure hungarian instruments, I'm interested to hear!

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PorkyPrimeCut
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Re: Any hungarian vintage guitars expert around here?

Post by PorkyPrimeCut » Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:53 pm

Well...that's certainly...erm...different!

;D Sorry, no help whatsoever.
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Re: Any hungarian vintage guitars expert around here?

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:50 am

Man, idk but I love it. Sweet guitar

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HH1978
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Re: Any hungarian vintage guitars expert around here?

Post by HH1978 » Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:08 pm

Thanks!

It's fun to play also.

Curious dimensions. It's very large, but not that deep.

Also, I wonder what that deep copper color with green lining (is that the correct word?) strings are?

Honestly, I mark this one as the only communist era eastern Europe guitar I had that is actually playable :D

I still have one other, a solidbody electric that looks like it has been made from a camping table. I'll try to picture it one of these days, worst guitar I've ever tried to play. It's been with me for years, it's so bad I've never even tried to sell it :D

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Re: Any hungarian vintage guitars expert around here?

Post by Veitchy » Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:07 pm

As soon as I saw that guitar it made me think of these:

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The Fano looks like a more rounded/less exaggerated version of the Hungarian instrument.

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Re: Any hungarian vintage guitars expert around here?

Post by snowplough » Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:43 pm

While I'm nowhere near an expert of Hungarian vintage guitar, I am a native speaker of the language. I personally never heard of the Szegedi Hangszergyártó Kft – which, uknown to me, was the only Hungarian factory of musical instruments. Of course, there are many (a lot of them absolutely world class) luthiers, small builders, but none of them quite the scale of a factory.

SZH was founded in 1953 and apart from musical instruments, it was involved in producing furniture, upholstery and adornment. From 1986 however, the company moved its focus exclusively to stringed instruments, totalling 6000 instruments per year. The company's principal market was Western-Europe and the US. In 1997, the company was bought by a Budapest-based owner, which marked a resurgence for the company: they had their best year in 2001 with 9400 instruments, however, and unfortunately, this was followed by a rapid decline, due to economical reasons (forint, the national currency of Hungary was going strong against the USD – the company by that time was pretty much focused solely on the US market with 95% of their sales realized in the US). The factory eventually closed its doors in 2003. At the time of its shutdown, the company had 54 employees.

The Szegedi guitars pop up on used forums every now and then, most of them built in the '50s and '60s. These are usually sold for around $180 – the forint has gotten really bad these days, haha.

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Re: Any hungarian vintage guitars expert around here?

Post by HH1978 » Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:21 am

Wow! Thanks for the infos! This sounds Like something I've heard before, so it's quite possible I was told by the previous owner 5 years ago, however I had totally forgotten.

I paid about 100€ for it including shipping from Hungary to Belgium, so yes, they seem to go for cheap :D

Anyway, as I said, it's nowhere as bad as I expected. Easy to play, and sounds nice, although it lacks a bit of low end, which is a bit surprising given the size of the body. New strings should improve the sound a bit, the current ones are dead, not to mention the way they are fitted as some were too short, apparently :D

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