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The Jackson-Guldan Violin Co. 1950s-60s photo of the Jackson-Guldan factory on 165 W Main St. Image Credit The Jackson-Guldan Viol...

The Jackson-Guldan Violin Company

The Jackson-Guldan Violin Co.

1950s-60s photo of the Jackson-Guldan factory
on 165 W Main St.
Image Credit

The Jackson-Guldan Violin Company was established in 1915 by H. M. Jackson, Benjamin Jackson, and German immigrant George Guldan (the Jacksons purchased into the company) in Columbus, Ohio [1]. The company was owned by one person from 1923 until the company's dissolution in July of 1954. That person was likely one of the Jacksons as Guldan had left in 1925. They were the only U.S. manufacturer of violins from 1930-1938 and 1940-1954 [4 pg.20]. Jackson-Guldan was known primarily for their student-level instruments which were manufactured en-mass and sold through mail order catalogs and jobbers. Their factory was located by the Scioto river, a very good location for a manufacturer

Shortly after World War II, they were producing an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 violins a year but the numbers declined to barely 6,000 instruments by the mid 1950s. The turning point was 1949 when they began operating at a loss and were unable to recruit and maintain existing workers. Their working force in 1954 consisted of 5 employees (including the owner) [pg.36]. 

Undated photo of the Jackson-Guldan factory
Image Credit
The quality of their instruments was a topic of contention. Carl Schwartz, of the National Association of Musical Merchandise Wholesalers criticized Jackson-Guldan instruments and chalked their moderate success up to a lack of German-built alternatives during the war. After the war ended, the German instruments were able to be imported and were again preferred by schools thus so retailers were unable to sell their stock Jackson-Guldan violins [4 pg.48]. The consensus that I have discovered upon research of J-G violins is that they were often "over-built" which stifled the tone of the instrument. 

The company was purchased by a Mr. Francis Luke Daniel who reopened the plant in the Fall of 1954 after hiring new workers and repairing the damaged and worn tooling and machinery. He also introduced a new department dedicated to repairing violins [4 pg.37]. Daniel's resume included working for Sears and Roebuck and opening their first store in Rio de Janero, Brazil [6].

Image Credit: [4]

Luke Daniel appealed to the United States Tariff Commission in 1957 to try and prevent imported instruments from driving his company out of business [4 pg.1]. They did not succeed and began to cut corners in production of violins to drive their costs down, most notably by switching from carved tops to heat pressed tops [3].

Jackson-Guldan's shift to guitars was well informed at the time but the guitar market crashed at the end of the 1960s and it was the nail in the coffin for Daniel's venture. The company folded for the last time in 1971 and stock was sold off [5]. The factory was torn down in 1973 to make way for new development. Daniel's daughter told an individual that excess stock and materials were burned but that her brother had kept some of the tooling and molds [3]. Luke Daniel passed away in 2010 [6].

Guitars

I am unable to determine the exact year that Jackson-Guldan began producing guitars but the earliest ones appear to be from the 1940s. Their guitars are not serialized and not all of them have stamps identifying them as being Guldan instruments so their hardware is the most accurate method of dating them. Consult Guitar HQ's guide on dating Kluson tuners for closed-back tuners and my guide on dating open-back Kluson tuners to determine when your instrument was built.

Lineup of 4 Jackson-Guldan guitars
Image Credit: Jedistar.com
Jackson-Guldan guitars are student-grade instruments that are parlor sized and made from plain, domestic woods. They distributed amplifiers as well which were likely built by Valco.

In 1962, Daniel applied for a patent on an innovation on the acoustic guitar that was branded the "Adjust-o-matic". It allowed for an adjustable neck angle via two screws which would prevent the need for expensive neck resets. His patent was granted in 1965. 

1950s "Stadium"-branded Guitar
Image Credit: Mine

Brand names

  • Baron "Custom"
  • Champ
  • Chris
  • Dart
  • Go-Go
  • Hootenanny (1963-?)
  • Jay-G
  • Mercury
  • Norwood
  • Oahu "Prince"
  • Stadium

Serial Numbers

There is currently no known meaning behind any Jackson-Guldan serial numbers

Sources

[1] https://businesssearch.ohiosos.gov/?=businessDetails/36946

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this article! Luke Daniel was my grandfather. I have inherited some items from the Jackson Guldan factory, but sadly since my mom passed away a year ago, I don't know much firsthand information about the factory. I just remember outlines of stories about how she and her sisters were "recruited" to work for free in the factory, and traveled with Granddad to trade shows to help show off the products. If you would like to add any photos to your article, I could try to share some of the items I have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! I’d love to see some photos and hear more about your family’s story. Shoot me an email at nat.adams149@gmail.com

      Delete
  2. I would be great to post pictures here as well. I am a cult follower of the Guldan brand because of an old fiddle my grandad had, I have 7 now. You can e-mail me at fordtruckman1978.bs@gmail

    ReplyDelete

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