Besson guitars were produced in the 1950s. They were badged as Besson Aristone. These guitars were imported and often rebranded. Many of them were made by Framus. There was also a model made by Framus in the Besson name designed by British jazz guitarist Jack Duarte.
The Aristone guitars are reportedly made by Framus, however, this one isn’t. It may have been made by Abbott before demand outstripped his supply capacity in the early 60s and the explosion of pop and they started to sub-contract to Framus. It’s very much like a Gibson L7, tobacco sunburst, 21 frets. Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlay (unbound), solid spruce (not ply ) top with single cream binding, sycamore neck with a V profile, and sycamore back and sides again solid not ply, Sycamore being the English maple and in plentiful supply at the time. Nickel plated trapeze tailpiece, and floating rosewood bridge. It has very early open back Grover machines with cream buttons. The headstock has a small rectangular ivory label at the top with THE Aristone (Aristone in Copper Plate). It does not appear to have a truss rod, but tolerates 11’s ok. It really is a stunning guitar, definitely not Framus or East German. The build quality is far too good for a Factory mass produced model. It used to belong to a Newcastle session guitarist from the 50s/60s Charlie Smith, who owned it in the mid 80s. Graham Heath
In the 50s; Jack Duarte, as a British jazz guitarist, designed the Aristone Guitars for Besson that were made by Framus. Besson guitars were produced in the 1950s.
They were badged as Besson Aristone.
These guitars were imported and often rebranded. Aristone guitars were a product of the London-based Besson & Co., Ltd. However, many of them were made in Bavaria, Germany, by the Framus company. The Aristone guitar was sponsored by John Duarte, alias Jack Duarte, a classic and jazz guitarist. This instrument was probably made in the 60’s.
The German brand Framus has its base in Shonbach (present Czech Republic). Fred Wilfer born 1917 had already in 1945 heard about the Allied plans to move the Sudeten German element of the population to Bavaria, and therefore he sought permission to establish a factory there. When seen by the Czech Authorities as an ‘anti-fascist’ he was allowed through in 1946 along with the first transportation of violin makers from Schonbach. The first factory was housed in a barrack camp (also a home to the workers) in Moehrendorf in 1946. In 1948 it was moved to Baiersdorf and in 1954 they moved into a new factory in Bubenreuth. Production rose gradually from violin to guitar construction, especially during the Beatles era. During the 1970s, the otherwise quite far-sighted Framus received so much competition from cheaper Japanese instruments that by the late 70s they found themselves outmatched and bankruptcy was inevitable.
Association With Höfner Guitars
Immediately after WW2, the victorious Allies set about re-defining the map of Europe, and as part of this process, Schoenbach became part of Czechoslovakia. Hofner‘s Business was very quickly taken into state control, and those German-speaking people living in the Sudetenland, as the area where Schoenbach was now, were forced to re-locate into Germany. So it was that the Walter Hofner found himself in Moehrendorf, near Erlangen, (which lies just to the north of Nuernberg), in Bavaria. Here, in 1947, he began working with Fred Wilfer on a joint venture which developed into the Framus Company.
Karl Hofner together with his elder son Joseph broke away from Fred Wilfer and the 2 Hofner brothers re-established the Hofner Company, using a large number of their former Employees, in an old labour camp barracks in Moehrendorf.
The German brand Höfner founded in 1887 in Schönbach (present Czech Republic) by Karl Hofner. Already before the WW1 the Company had a good reputation, even outside Germany’s borders, because of the artisans great skill and probably also because Karl Hofner was a clever Businessman. His sons Josef and Walter joined the Company in 1919 and 1921, and it gave further impetus to Exports. After WW2, it was hard times, when the German Sudeten population in Schönbach was forced to move to Bavaria. So it was that the Walter Hofner found himself in Moehrendorf, near Erlangen, (which lies just to the north of Nuernberg), in Bavaria. Here, in 1947, he began working with Fred Wilfer on a joint venture which developed into the Framus Company.
In 1948, Karl Hofner together with his elder son Joseph also arrived in Moehrendorf, and so Walter broke away from Fred Wilfer and the 2 Hofner brothers re-established the Hofner Company, using a large number of their former Employees, in an old labour camp barracks in Moehrendorf. With the help of their Export earnings, they could build a new Factory in Bubenreuth in 1950. In 1997 they shifted production to Hagenau, and in recent years have also been producing Höfner in China.