warwick thumb basses photo

Warwick. In the beginning was Framus…

The history of the Warwick bass guitar began with the founding of Framus on January 1, 1946. The founder of Framus was the German entrepreneur Fred Wilfer. He chose the city of Erlang in Bavaria as the final location for his company. The reason for that was the prevailing political and economic post-war situation. Fred Wilfer moved to Erlang along with most of his luthiers.

At the new place, the business was booming. By 1954, Framus employed more than 170 people. The production occupied 2,000 square meters. The workers produced about 2,000 violins and cellos per month. However, electric guitars were gradually gaining popularity among musicians. And soon, they became the company’s main product and bestseller. After the appearance of the Beatles, there was a real boom in the popularity of rock and roll and guitars in particular.

Finally, Framus became the largest manufacturer of electric guitars in Europe.

Paul McCartney had a Framus guitar in the 1950s. Soon, he switched from trumpet to guitar because he wanted to play and sing simultaneously. He composed his first songs on Framus Zenith model 17.

In the late 1970s, the philosophy of trade and consumption changed. Unable to compete with the Asian and American expansion represented by Fender, Framus had to declare bankruptcy and close its production.

The story could have ended on a sad note… There would have been no Streamer or Corvette $$. There would have been no wonderful word “bubinga.” What would Rob Trujillo be playing? Bootsy Collins? Adam Clayton? And thousands of other bass players around the world…

warwick streamer bass guitar

Warwick: Rebirth from the Ashes

But that’s one of those stories in which a happy ending is possible and… (be careful of a spoiler) – there will be one.

In 1982, Hans-Peter Wilfer, the Framus owner’s son who spent his childhood and adolescence in his father’s factories, founded Warwick. The company manufactured primarily premium quality bass guitars according to modern standards.

hans peter wilfer warwick owner

Hans-Peter has known all the intricacies of musical instrument production since childhood, but at the same time, he is an entrepreneur of a new generation. Warwick was closely involved (and continues to be involved) in marketing. Besides, the company has created an extensive dealer network and invites the best musicians to participate in product endorsement and popularization. Just look at their collaboration with The Who bassist John Entwistle!

Thus, the newly created company consists of a charming combination of tradition and experience in producing musical instruments complemented by modern equipment and new technology. Couple that with the German attitude to work and quality, and you get a perfect bass guitar.

In 1995, the company expanded and moved its production to the city of Markneukirchen (oh, I love such names…) on the border with the Czech Republic. At the same time and place, Hans-Peter Wilfer re-opened Framus. It became part of Warwick and started producing guitars. However, it is Warwick that specializes in the production of our favorite bass guitars.

thumb model 4 strings edition

Warwick Bass Guitars

Today, we can divide the Warwick bass family into three parts:

  • Masterbuilt is a custom shop of top-quality handmade instruments made in Germany. The quality is incredible. You can also find “limited editions” and “signature series” here. There are usually about 40 limited-edition varieties in production. These are improved versions of conventional models with options unavailable in the “standard configuration.” Outlandish types of wood, rare methods of painting, etc. The price matches the quality. The signature series includes Warwick endorser instruments such as Robert Trujillo’s Streamer or John Entwistle’s Buzzard.
  • Teambuilt. Made in Germany but with a little less love if compared to Masterbuilt.
  • Rockbass. These basses are Warwick’s attempt to create more affordable instruments for beginning musicians. As you may have guessed, these bass guitars come from China but still belong to Germans. Slightly cheaper accessories, simplified painting methods, and inexpensive types of wood allow the company to produce quite decent instruments for those who are just starting to play the bass guitar.
warwick bass models

Collaboration with Bassists

Speaking about Warwick, one cannot fail to note their fruitful and long-term collaboration with many famous musicians. It is a common practice when musicians receive instruments and enter into contracts for using specific models of bass guitars, etc. With Warwick, this cooperation moves to a new level, and the musicians seem to become members of a closed club, members of the Warwick family for many years or forever. The article is not enough to highlight all the bass players who work with Warwick, so I will mention a few:

  • John Entwistle (The Who). The Buzzard Bass is the product of the wild imagination of John Entwistle and the technical genius of Hans-Peter Wilfer, the company’s founder. Back in 1985, John Entwistle asked the company to make a bass that best suited his ideas about the perfect instrument. The result was the Buzzard, perhaps the most recognizable bass guitar ever. The bass sounds as unreal as it looks. I wrote about Entwistle’s sound. In short, it is a bass with a neck-through design, a zebrawood top, and an ovangkol neck. Two MEC precision-style pickups are arranged in a mirror-symmetrical manner, which, combined with active electronics, gives almost limitless possibilities.
  • Robert Trujillo (Metallica). A long-time member of the Warwick family, Robert also has a personalized Warwick Streamer.
  • Stuart Zender (Jamiroquai).
  • Ryan Martini (Mudvayne).
  • Justin Chancellor (Tool).
  • Bootsy Collins.
  • Rex Brown (Pantera).
  • Steve Bailey.
  • Sam Rivers (Limp Bizkit).
  • Thousands of other musicians around the world.
Short demo of RockBass Corvette Basic

Bass Camp and Ecology

The company’s great idea was the annual Warwick Bass Camp. During this event, participants from different countries can learn from the best musicians from all over the planet (even Victor Wooten, Gary Willis, and John Patitucci).

On a personal note, I should mention their caring attitude towards nature and the environment. The firm doesn’t produce components from toxic plastic. It buys wood from regular suppliers, and its factories generate electricity by burning wood waste. There are solar panels on the roofs. This approach cannot but rejoice.

A fly in the ointment… How to buy a Warwick bass guitar?

To summarize, we can say that Warwick bass is an excellent instrument. Its broad but not confusing line of bass guitar models will allow you to find an instrument of the desired color and design. Even the quality of Rockbass will hardly disappoint you. There is nothing to complain about. Some people say the neck is heavy and massive, so please be careful when choosing.

warwick neck feel

But the price is a little disappointing… At the time of writing, the Streamer Teambuilt costs 2000 euros in the Thomann store located in the company’s homeland… Masterbuilt Streamer Stage… See the picture! ))

Masterbuilt Streamer Stage Warwick price on thomann

The Rockbass Streamer starts at around $500. So, if you like Warwick basses or want a new instrument, I would advise you to pay attention to these bass guitars. They are of good quality. The manufacturer’s 4-year warranty allows you to sleep soundly and save for a German model. Both Thomann and Warwick strictly follow their warranty obligations. Some buyers even put Warwick Rockbass basses on par with German basses.

So, it’s up to you to decide, but while writing this article, I realized I need another bass guitar. That’s probably an obsession… Thanks for your time! See you!

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