German Carve on the Bench

One of the things I’ve wanted to incorporate in my designs is an old-school type of relief carving sometimes called the German carve. While at Hamer I couldn’t really do it because it was not in the “Hamer tradition” as it was called. The closest I came was with the Monaco guitars, which featured a more radical scallop at the edge. But in my shop, I make the rules, so I’m making a few Artist Proof instruments to see how it looks on a Dantzig guitar. What do you think?

German Carve Tulsa
My Tulsa model with a German carve flame maple top

The resurgence of the so-called “German carve” is an interesting development in the world of guitar fashion. Traditionally used on furniture, I first noticed it on the Mosrite Ventures models I lusted for in my 1960s youth. Actually, it was quite popular with European guitar builders (mostly in Germany and Italy) where a man named Roger Rosemeissl grew up working in his father’s guitar shop.

Roger Rossmeissl

Eventually, Rossmeissl came to America and began working at Rickenbacker, where he designed a number of instruments in the late 1950s. A few of his designs featured the carved relief technique he had learned at home in Germany. Later, Semie Moseley would work alongside Rossmeissl at Rickenbacker before striking out on his own. Moseley’s new company was named Mosrite, and he carried the European carving over to his designs for the Ventures.


Today, all things old are new again so it doesn’t surprise me that the scalloped appearance of the German carve would appeal to a new audience. For me, it is a tip of the hat to some of my guitar-building heroes—and to the Ventures model guitar I dreamed of owning when I first started playing guitar. I can’t wait to finish these new instruments.

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Jol Dantzig is a guitar builder, designer, writer and filmmaker. He has worked for Gibson, Fender, Guild, Ovation, Gretsch, and was a founding partner of Hamer guitars—one of the first boutique custom guitar brands. Dantzig’s work has been played by hundreds of artists including Sting, Steve Stevens, Larry Coreyell, Dug Pinnick, Billy Gibbons, Keb Mo’, Nick Lowe, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, John Abercrombie, Glen Campbell, Rick Nielsen, Kenny Vaughan, Lita Ford, James Honeyman Scott, Elliott Easton, Andy Summers, Peter Frampton, Martin Barre, Lyle Workman, Brad Gillis, George Harrison, Jeff Ament, Dweezil Zappa, Jeff Tweedy, Nancy Wilson—and many others.