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Juzek Basses -- Good, Bad, Indifferent?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by jgbass, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I find occasional mention of Juzek basses here. To my current understanding, I am hearing that they are factory made basses and can apply to quite a variety of basses from Germany. Maybe kind of a generic name?

    I have a 5/8 Juzek bass as a back up and keep going back and forth on selling it. The guy I bought it from just called it a German bass; the guys at Lemur Music identified it as a Juzek. Its a good little jazz bass, but kind of beat up and needs some work. If it weren't so beat up, I would keep it. On another issue, everyone I've talked so says to not mess with the finish, etc. as it will hurt the tone.

    I've heard some top players play Juzeks. What do you know about and think about Juzeks?
  2. Like many other factory basses, and basses in general, Juzek's can be hit or miss. They are, to the best of my knowledge, generally well-constructed with a classic, big and fat sound. Christian McBride plays one, I'm pretty sure. If you like it, keep it, if not, you could probably get at least a few thousand out of it.
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The majority of the Juzek labelled carved Basses were made by the Wilfer Family. Anton Wilfer was the first I know of and then Wenzel thru the 60s or 70 and now Emanuel? They were first made in Czech territory but after WWII they moved over the border to Germany. The Plywood Basses were supplied by the Lang Family shops.

    As with almost any shop with various models and qualities these Basses can and do vary quite a bit.

    Some German/Czech Shop Basses can cost more to repair than they are worth. On the other hand, many can be improved with re-graduation and a new Bass Bar along with other restoration work and sound as good as Basses costing more than it's market value.
  4. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Both Ron Carter and Christian McBride play on Juzeks.

    Almost all of the pre-WWII Juzeks I've played have been very good basses. A late friend of mine was a good personal friend of the original John Juzek. I think Juzek was married to his wife's sister? Sometime after the communists came in they started having the instruments made in Germany, but I think that's when Juzek came to the states (my friend lived in New York state, but I'm not sure if Juzek did, Juzek had an office and warehouse in New Jersey). These basses are not nearly as good as the pre war instruments. I once purchased a 60s Juzek and I couldn't believe how thick the plates were and how big the bass bar was compared to the stuff from the 30s. I regraduated it and replaced the bar and it sounded great.

    Currently, I have a l937 Juzek that I took in on a trade on one of my basses. I'm probably going to let it go cheap because some prior work on the bass was sub-standard. It has an original Juzek label, but looks more German that other basses I've seen from that era. Perhaps they purchased some from Germany when they couldn't keep up with the demand?
    By the way, I've never met a native Czech who's heard of Juzek instruments. Maybe all of his trade was out of the country?
  5. McBride uses his Juzek as a back up to his Czech bass. His unknown Czech is his main bass though.
  6. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Thanks for all the good info here. I think before I even think of selling this for cheap, I will get it checked out by another luthier and see if they think its worth restoring and get a second opinion on the value, maybe even find someone else to appraise this too.
  7. Hi - I have a wartime carved German/Czech bass with no label which I believe maybe a Wilfer. I'd be interested in comparing it with your Juzek. I'm currently putting the bass through treatment with Tom Barrett from Seattle and it's turning into a great little instrument.......

    Have you any photos I could have a look at.....I'll try and post one or two of mine here.....
  8. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    my friend owns a juezk master art. its a blondish bass with lots of flames and violin corners. beautiful bass and it plays and sounds great. he found it at a yard sale for $1,000. the thing is so awesome that i offered him $10,000 for it and he turned it down!
  9. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Actually, you have a half-size Juzek, as 5/8 Juzeks are non-existant.
  10. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    It's my understanding that John Juzek was a violinmaker, never made basses, and the name appears primarily as an import-to-the-U.S trade name.
  11. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Nick is right and it is no secret. Bobby Juzek in Vermont who is the nephew of John will tell you that his uncle John NEVER made a Bass. Most every instrument ever shipped to USA to Metropolitan Music/Robert Juzek was not made at all be John. They were all farmed out. In the beginning he did make some violins by hand but the 1000s or instruments with his Label were not made in his small shop in Prague. Most were made in the Schonbach area on the Czech/German border. After WWII they were all made in Germany.

    Do a search here on Juzek. I have given this and much deeper history in several other threads. I knew Robert Juzek when I was in High School. Bobby was always there as well when I visited. Peter Eibert worked there as well and had come there from Nurnberg, Germany to work there straight from the shop of Heinrich Lang. The shop of Benedict Lang supplied the Plywood Basses for Juzek USA. John Juzek was no longer connected with the company as Robert had made all the contracts directly with the shops right after the War ended around 1945-46 or so.

    So the bottom line is that any Bass in the world labeled Juzek was made by cottage industry, the shops of the Wilfer Family, Lang for the plywoods or any other Bass they could get to stick a label on which Green has witnessed when his father Jack Loeb in NYC would also wholesale Basses to them if they were short for their orders on occasion. Juzek is a Label and not a maker as far as the Basses go and 99.99% of everything else they sold in USA. They are still good in the price range they sold for BUT they are what they are. Nothing more and nothing less!!
  12. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Sorry, no photos right now. The guys at Lemur said it is a Juzek, and it is labeled Made in Germany.

    Fascinating info, Ken. So, its more a label, not a maker.
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The fact that the words are written/printed in English shows that is was made for Export and not a real handmade domestic product. German Basses/Violins have labels written in German. Italian instruments are written in Italian. In French etc, or even in latin or a mixture of domestic language and latin. English instruments may use English but can say 'Fecit London 1811'. So it is clear that domestic products for the european market will have their native language and trade instruments to USA are always written in English for 'customs' as point of origin and market. Many Labels are actually put in the instruments in USA and not in Germany. I Bought a Wenzel B. Wilfer (Juzek Master Art) 3/4 model from Juzek around 1971 made in 1966 and they did not put the Juzek Label in it. I had watched that Bass all thru High School and bought it 5 years after I first saw it. Some of the upper end Wilfers they had in stock had WBW initials in script engraved in the upper backs of the Basses. They left the Juzek label out of some of those as the real Maker was very evident.