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The history of KLIRA, Basses, Made in Germany

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by king koeller, May 5, 2005.


  1. king koeller

    king koeller

    Apr 20, 2005
    Dayton, Ohio
    If any of you can help me with the history of my Fire Engine RED Klira 4 string Bass that would be great!
    I need information about the KLIRA Company (from Germany).
    The bass looks like it is from 1964, and the neck is so narrow, but right on the money with Ebony finger board, the body shape is like a Fender Jag, with 2 totally vintage sounding pickups.
    One 4 position Knob controls tone as follows;
    bass cut, treble cut- Bass boost, treble boost-bass boost, treble cut.
    I mean really Krazy... :hyper:
    The next Knob is for the Pick-up selector;
    1, 1 & 2 , 2 , Both Off
    Then there is a volume Knob.
    It is equipted with Schaller machines with Wood Knobs and
    really has that Ventures tone.
    I picked it up at a Pawn Shop in Rome, New York for $40.00 in 1992, but some guitar shop at 48th street, NY city, NY offered me $650.00 a year later, but I said no.
    What gets me, is the fact that it tunes up so nice and the Intonation is like a train on rails.I get visions of the Shadows or Jan and Dean, when i hear the tone...
    The sound make you want to do the Twist or the Jerk!
    There is probably not another KLIRA like it, on the face of this earth.
    I'm so sorry I don't have pictures,
    Thanks
    Any info is greatly appreciated!
    "King" Koeller
     
  2. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    With out a picture from you, it's difficult to tell for sure, but I believe from your description that you have a Klira 562 Bass. Otherwise known as the Arkansas. They are circa 1965.

    Let me know if this isn't the correct model.

    Here's a picture of one;

    [​IMG]

    Klira, are German made as you indicated. In fact for years in the town of Bubenreuth, just around the corner from the Hofner factory.
    Hofner has since moved 5 miles down the road to the town of Haganeu about 12 yrs ago.

    Like Hofner, Klira have been around since the late 1800's. Founded by Johannes Klier. Originally Klira were a violin manufacturer producing classical instruments, but after WW-II they started making guitars in addition to violins. Guitar making became the majority of their business during the 50's and 60's producing 40,000 guitars a year while making half as many violins.

    Klira have always had the reputation of produced good quality hand made products.

    I have owned one and I'm currently in the market for another. Should never have sold mine.

    Most of their product was exported outside of Germany. But some of their product was marked by a large German mail-order business under the product name of Triumphator.
    So if you ever happen across a Triumphator, you know it's a Klira.

    Hope this helps.

    TD
     
  3. king koeller

    king koeller

    Apr 20, 2005
    Dayton, Ohio
    oh my God!! :hyper:
    that's it exactly!!!
    Thornton;
    I have been looking on the web forever to find a picture of the bass and never had any luck...
    You not only have the correct picture, (I cant believe this!!) but also the correct name and model number.
    It has the same weird, long knobs and the same body shape!
    the only thing different is the color. Mine is Fire Engine Red!
    So it's a Model 562, "Arkansas", from 1965.
    The bass really rocks! Unbelievable!! :)
    I even play it with my Vintage Jazz Record collection, to get the vintage sound happening! :bassist:
    You see, I'm a Professional Saxophonist with 33 years experience, but I play Bass as a way to relax. The Tenor Saxophone(Selmer Mark 6) is by nature very intense and high strung! When playing fast bebop or Jazz rock fusion, it can get real heavy! but Playing the bass sooths me into a deep trance...Like Steve Swallow, or Eberhard Weber, Jack Bruce...
    The Klira is perfect for Blues Jams, every body comes up and says "what kind of bass is that?" I say it's a KLIRA from Germany, but not a Hofner...then they look puzzeled, and walk away. I never thought in a million years I would ever find out the info on my Bass. You have cheered up my day! I'm so sorry to hear that you had to part ways with your KLIRA, :crying: but maybe someday we'll see one on e-bay for sale.Thanks Again !
    "King"Koeller
     
  4. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    Glad to have been of help to you K.K.

    FYI, Klira did make the 562 in White, Red, Black/White, Turquoise, Silver and Gold.

    Cheers,

    TD

    Don't worry, i'll find another Klira Twen Star soon.
     
  5. BASSBYDEFAULT

    BASSBYDEFAULT

    Oct 20, 2007
    Hi, I realize this thread is over two years old but found it while researching my Bass this week. It sounds like mine also.

    Returning home from college for the summer in 1965, I found my buddies had started a garage band. I desperately wanted to be part of that. However, the only open position was Bass. So, I decided to become BASS BY DEFAULT ( I assume many bass players have similar stories). So, I jumped on the bus to downtown Pittsburgh and the music store. I was somewhat intimidated by the size and fretboards of the Fenders etc. ( now I wish I had bougth one of those as well !). So the salesman said I might be interested in this German Jazz Bass, as he called it. Bright red and thin neck, I thought it was real cool. So I bought it and also a VOX Bassman Amp ( which, in a moment of what I can only describe a temporary insanity, I let my wife add to her garage sale some 10 years later . ARRGGHHH !). I kept the Klira though, and they will have to pry it from my cold dead hand. It really has a remarkable range of tones using the pickup and tone switches. I do have to admit that I never really became a dynamite bassman and when the group broke up after college, I drifted back to guitar an keyboards.

    I just had one of the tuners repaired where one of the tuning screw posts had come loose. Other than that and a few minor surface dings, everything is pretty pristine, and one owner. It really turned heads at the local guitar shop last week.

    I just wanted to share this and let you know that there is at least another Arkansas? out here. I'm guessing most were sold in Europe ?

    Email me for a picture or if you have a picture of yours.

    Best regards,

    Stan
     
  6. king koeller

    king koeller

    Apr 20, 2005
    Dayton, Ohio
    wow!
    Stan,
    That is a cool story!
    Your bass sounds just like mine!
    I will get some photos soon!
     
  7. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    I would deffiently pick one up in the future !
     
  8. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    There's a Klira on Ebay now that I covet. The price is higher than I want to pay, but it looks sweet.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    The Klira in the photo above is a Twen Star Model 162-I. It would be a 1965-66 vintage. Looks to be in good condition for its age. All Klira Twen Star models are highly under rated basses IMO.

    Here's a photo of 3 of my 4 Klira basses below. This was taken last summer. The basses are from L-R, 1965 Twen Star Model 162-I, California Deluxe Model 362, Twen Star 356. I also have Twen Star 162-II. This is a very unique bass because the body is shaped on the upper side identical to the Twen Star 356, but the lower side of the body is shaped identical to the Twen Star 162-I. Like they took the two differend designs and pieced them together to create the 162-II. I'll post a photo of it.

    [​IMG]

    TD
     
  10. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    Because I don't have a decent photo of my Twen Star 162-II at this time, here's a photo of it from a piece of 1965 Klira literature.

    [​IMG]

    TD
     
  11. is that a photo or a drawing?
     
  12. HitByABlimp

    HitByABlimp

    Apr 10, 2007
    Netherlands
    Cool! I didn't realize there was a thread on Klira's on TB. Nice info too!
    Well, as we are all showing our Klira's, here's mine :smug:
    I have no idea what model and year it is, so any info is much appreciated.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  13. GlennW

    GlennW

    Sep 6, 2006
  14. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    HitByABlimp, your Klira is a Twen Star 162-I (first version). It's from early 65. You can tell this by the shape of cats eyes and the headstock inlays.

    The cats eyes on the first run of 162-I basses were triangular shaped and very small compared to the latter ones they made as you can see on my 162-I pictured in my photo above.

    One other give away is the headstock inlay and Klira nameplate on it. The 3 star inlays were used in the early 60's through to early 65.

    TD
     
  15. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    sungjin891118, it's a b/w photo that has been enhanced by an artist to give it more optical definition for print (brochure).

    I have lots of photos of 162-II's but none of them are mine, so I won't post them out of respect.

    I'll take some photos of mine and post them soon.

    TD
     
  16. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    Here's a photo of a 1966 Twen Star 162-II bass. This body shape is called asymetrical. Two shapes combined into one.

    This is not my 162-II, but almost identical to it.

    The reason I say this is because like Hofner, Klira were constently changing or tweeking their production instruments which meant that very few instruments left the factory identical to one another.

    The 162-II in the photo below has metal tuner pegs. They were optional, white plastic buttons were standard. It also has a much smaller and non three dimensional gold foil stick-on Klira nameplate. The three star inlays in the headstock are replaced with the upper and lower pointing arrow inlays with a bar placed between them. This is very reminscent of Framus headstocks from the same time period.

    Also notice the cats eyes sound holes are the larger full cut out ones unlike the smaller triangular ones found on the Twen Star 162-I above. I've never seen a 162-II with the small triangular cats eye sound holes. I'd like to say Klira never put them on the 162-II like they did with the 162-I, but there's no proof that they didn't, yet.

    One final other point of interest is that the tailpiece has the Klira name etched into ii, the 1965 versions didn't.

    Enjoy,

    [​IMG]

    TD
     
  17. HitByABlimp

    HitByABlimp

    Apr 10, 2007
    Netherlands
    Man, how many different variations did they make in the few years the Twen Star basses were produced. I've seen 3 different bodyshapes, 2 different soundholes and A LOT of different headstock designs (stars, points, brandname design, etc). And it seems like all these differences were mixed up together as well!

    How many do you own Thorton? Any special reason why you own a variety of them (besides the good looks ;))
    I was wondering if the fretboard is rosewood or any other dark wood. It seems a bit dry on my bass, so I should take care of it somehow.
     
  18. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    HitByABlimp, I currently own three Klira semi-acoustic basses. All are the violin styled Twen Star models which include a 162-I, 162-II and 356. You are correct, there are 3 different body shapes, 2 different cats eye sound hole shapes, lots or different headstock shapes with different inlays and logos and sometimes no logo at all, and we haven't even talked about pickups yet. It's one of the unique things that I mentioned in my previous posting, Klira were constently changing these models, so there are very few that are identical to one another. Hofner and Framus did the samething with their semi-acoustic 500/1 and Star basses.

    Klira also produced their Star and Super Star semi-acoustic models as well as the Twen Star's mentioned above. Both of these models also shared the same violin body shape as the Twen Star 356. The Star was a entry level lower priced bass and the Super Star was their deluxe version which was made to compete with Hofner's 5001 Deluxe bass.

    I think Klira's are very cool looking well built instruments that sound great when recording. BTW, all three of mine are strung with Hofner-Pyramid roundwound strings.

    The fretboards on these are in deed rosewood. I'd use a good wood rejuvinating oil to add some moisture to the rosewood if it looks dried out. If you're not comfortable doing that, take your bass to a good luthier and have him clean and polish the rosewood for you.

    If you ever consider selling your 162-I HitByABlimp, please PM me first, i'd love to have it in my collection.

    I do hope to add another 356 and a 361 Merkur (both semi-acoustic) Klira's to my collection within the next week. The 361 Merkur is a Gibson EB-2 lookalike but with a 4 inline tuner Fender style headstock.

    FWIW, I also own a Hofner and have toured the Hofner factory in Haganau Germany. I grew up with Hofner's and love them, but I really love Klira's too, if you couldn't tell.

    TD
     
  19. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    Here's a recent photo of two of my Klira Twen Star basses.

    The one on the left is the 162-I, with the 162-II on the right.

    The 162-II is 1/2" thinner than the 162-I. You can see this clearly in the photo below.

    Enjoy.

    TD

    [​IMG]
     
  20. ExaltBass

    ExaltBass Just a BassGuy! Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    Twin Cities, MN
    WOW! Totally beautiful. :cool: