Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

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Kluson factory (undated) Image Credit:  Kluson.com About John Edward Klucikowski was born March 8th, 1893 in Germany to Polish parents Jo...

A Brief History of the Kluson Manufacturing Company

Kluson factory (undated)
Image Credit: Kluson.com

About

John Edward Klucikowski was born March 8th, 1893 in Germany to Polish parents Joseph Klucikowski and Mary Schwab. They immigrated to the United States in 1898 and came to settle in Carlinville, Illinois. In 1904, tragedy struck and Joseph died leaving Mary to raise her four sons, Frank, John, Tony, and Joseph as well as their three daughters, Agnes, Theresa, and Mary [5]. According to a 1917 draft registration card, John was a machinist with instrument manufacturer Lyon and Healy which is likely where he developed his skills and trade [8].

John Edward Klucikowski (undated)
Image Credit: Kluson.com

 His father died and was buried in 1904 leaving Mary to raise her 4 sons, Frank, John, Tony, and Joseph, and 3 daughters, Agnes, Theresa, and Mary [5]. In 1910, at the age of 17, he was a receiving clerk [6]. Later John was employed as a machinist with instrument manufacturer Lyon and Healy according to a 1917 draft registration card [8]. By 1919, the family had "Americanized" their name and began using the surname Kluson [4]. I heard a rumor from a family member that the name change was changed due to the cost of signage. 

According to WD Music, the present day owners of the brand, John founded the Kluson Manufacturing Company as a machine shop in 1925 [9]. In 1935, Kluson began producing a tone bar invented by James S. Allen of Indiana with an initial order of 10,000 [13]. By 1942, he lived at 2454 N. Springfield Avenue in Chicago, Illinois and was employed by Kluson Manufacturing Company which was located at 3830 N. Kilbourn Avenue in Chicago, Illinois [1].

1947 Job Posting
Factory work included a punch press, drill press, and assembly
Image Credit: Newspapers.com

1946 Job Posting
Plating was done in house in chrome, gold, and nickel
Image Credit: Newspapers.com

1950 newspaper ad for tooling being sold
Image Credit: Newspapers.com
1966 Job Posting
A Brown and Sharpe screw machine operator was required 
Image Credit: Newspapers.com


He died in April of 1956, at the age of 63, and was buried in St Joseph Cemetery in River Grove, Illinois [2][3]. His brother John, who had taken over the company, died shortly after in 1959 [12]. According to a family member I had reached out to, John had not married nor had any children and only one or two of his siblings had children. 

1987 Newspaper ad seeking to find heirs to Kluson
Image Credit: Newspapers.com

His company folded in 1981 after taking serious financial hits in the 70s as Fender and Gibson ceased placing orders and switched to newer tuning machine manufacturers. The brand name was later bought by WD Music, out of Florida, who currently produces reproduction machines

Employees

  • Kermit Norris [10]
  • Hank Barthold [11]

If you know of a Kluson Manufacturing Company catalog or any documention relating to the company, I am very interested in purchasing it. Please contact me 

I will pay for a Kluson catalog from the original era (pre-1981) 


Kluson Catalog c.1950

Kluson Catalog c.1970



Sources

[1] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6733-PWY?i=3367&cc=1861144&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AV1K7-Q5H
[2] https://www.archives.com/search/death/record?Location=Illinois,%20USA&LocationId=16&FirstName=john&MiddleName=e&LastName=kluson&LastNameExact=True&UniqueId=4704790:60901:953&resultsurl=%2Fsearch%2Fresults%3FFirstName%3Djohn%26LastName%3Dkluson%26Location%3Dillinois%26LastNameExact%3DTrue%26MiddleName%3De
[3] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6XTS-KCM?i=1196&cc=1503083
[4] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS1R-D8KT-L?cc=2968245&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AQPTN-LRQS
[5] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-67S7-FWZ?i=381&cc=1452409&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AQ2Y9-RZ1Y
[6] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRJR-N7Q?i=4&cc=1727033&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMKZY-76C
[7] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QPTN-LRQS
[8] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-81WY-99MS?i=597&cc=1968530&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AK68Y-D16
[9] https://mmrmagazine.com/issue/kluson-at-90-iconic-tuner-and-replacement-parts-supplier-has-remained-a-go-to-brand-for-nearly-a-century/
[10] https://www.newspapers.com/image/377083028/?terms=kluson%20mfg%20co&match=1
[11] https://www.newspapers.com/image/376477392/?terms=kluson%20mfg%20co&match=1
[12] https://www.newspapers.com/image/371212232/?terms=kluson%20manufacturing%20colorado&match=1
[13] https://www.newspapers.com/image/54671540/?terms=%22kluson%22%20manufacturing&match=1

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