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

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About Louis Sutz was born in Friedrichsthal, Baden-Württemberg, Germany on June 17th, 1862 to parents Peter and Carolina. He moved to the Un...

Louis Sutz - Cincinnati, Ohio


Louis Sutz was born in Friedrichsthal, Baden-Württemberg, Germany on June 17th, 1862 to parents Peter and Carolina. He moved to the United States in 1880 and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio[1]. By 1882, was living at 530 John Street with Fred and Fred Jr Sutz who were blacksmiths [4]. Four years later he was married to his wife Philomena and working as a "body maker" while living at 614 Central Avenue [3]. In 1891, he was now listed as a woodworker living at 341 Clifton Avenue [2].

1904 map with Sutz's shop located at the corner of Huber and Vine
The building was demolished and is currently a parking lot
Image Credit: Cincinnati Library Sanborn Map

In 1895, he entered the musical instrument business and moved into 1616 Vine Street [5]. The 1900 census lists Louis as a music dealer while the 1910 census lists him as a music instructor [6][7]. In the 1920 census, Louis is a repairman of musical instruments and in 1930 is listed simply as the owner of a music store [8][9]. He had retired by the 1940 census [10]


Four different label designs have shown up on the internet however we do not have a date range for the use of any of them. 

I would wager this is one of his earliest labels
Image Credit: Mandolin Cafe user - Jim Garber - Found on a defunct Korean website

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Same design now in gold text on blue paper
Image Source: Mandolin Cafe User - Andy G


As Louis' label explains, he made violins, mandolins, guitars, zithers, and likely other instruments if a customer requested. I'm having a hard time locating his factory, its entirely possible it was at 1616 Vine Street but the Sanborn map company was usually pretty good about documenting manufacturing in their maps and they mention nothing in the 1904 map.

I believe he built his instruments but it is not unheard of for a store to build some instruments and import others (Weymann and Sons, Gretsch, and Fender all did this)



Looking at Louis' surviving guitars, we can try to pinpoint some details to identify him from other builders. Headstocks are tough. Sometimes they can have little quirks that immediately set them apart, such as the shape of the slots, and other times they can look incredibly generic. 

Sutz's headstock with 3 extra holes for some reason
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Louis was clearly influenced by Spanish classical guitar building as his heels are large and proud compared to the more diminutive sizing of the French and German instruments.  
Sutz's large heel
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However, this early example of his work has a smaller heel which is more in line with American construction of the late 1800s

Unusually small heel from an earlier instrument
Image Credit: Blog.Daum.Net - Paul Song


Bridges from this era are tough, they were dainty and often didn't survive the advent of steel stringed guitars (and people putting them on guitars they weren't designed for). I've only found one guitar online that was in good enough condition for me to consider the bridge to be original. It was only advertised as being "full-height"

Possible Sutz bridge
Pyramid bridge with fretwire saddle
Image Credit: - MojoDreads


Sutz sold both traditional bowl-back mandolins as well as newer flat-back mandolins. 

Image Credit: Reverb - Mike's Music

Image Credit: Invaluable

Flat Back

His flat back mandolins are uniquely shaped. They are like an A-style but wider in the lower bout

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[1] Grave -
[2] 1891 directory -
[3] 1886 directory -
[4] 1882 directory -
[5] 1895 directory -
[6] 1900 census -
[7] 1910 census -
[8] 1920 census -
[9] 1930 census -
[10] 1940 census -

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