In 2013 a luthier based in Germany found this stash

 





Selmer UK.

A semi-independent branch of Selmer for the United Kingdom was created in 1928 under the leadership of two brothers, Ben and Lew Davis.

They concentrated primarily on licensing, importing and distribution rather than manufacturing, and by 1939 had grown to become the largest company in the British musical instrument industry.

In 1935 Selmer UK began producing sound reinforcement systems under the Selmer name.

They expanded their manufacturing facilities by purchasing another P.A. company called RSA in 1946.

By 1951 they were manufacturing electric organs and in 1955 they gained the exclusive licensing rights to make Lowrey organs and Leslie organ speakers for the UK.


They were also the primary importers and distributors for Höfner guitars, a well-known German guitar company, from the early 1950s through the early 1970s.


In 1967, Höfner actually produced a small range of semi-acoustic and acoustic guitars for Selmer UK

 

These were badged with the Selmer logo and most had a Selmer "lyre" tailpiece.


Model names were the Astra, Emperor, Diplomat, Triumph and Arizona Jumbo.


With the growth of skiffle music and the arrival of rock and roll in the mid-1950s, Selmer UK began producing guitar and bass amplifiers.


In the early 1960s, despite Selmer's apparent market domination, The Shadows' and The Beatles' endorsement of Vox amplifiers relegated Selmer guitar amplifiers to a distant second place in sales.


The management of the company made various luke warm attempts to gain endorsement
from aspiring musicians but became increasingly distant from the developments in pop culture and from the mid 1960s considering that its role was to support "real" or established professional musicians and not the headliners of the pop industry.


This was the beginning of the end for Selmer UK.


By the early 1970s Selmer UK had been purchased by Chicago Musical Instruments, then the parent company of Gibson Guitars, which Selmer was distributing in the UK.


By this time Marshall guitar amplifiers had cornered the market,
and the Selmer manufacturing facility was an expensive drain on resources.
During this period, the Selmer range of Treble & Bass 50 & 100 valve amplifiers appeared to be stylistic relics from pre-1959
and the decision was made to move the manufacturing facility to a disused brush and coconut matting works dating from 1914, based in rural Essex.


The factory was purchased from Music and Plastic Industries.
This was a disaster, coupled as it was to an uninspiring reworking of the Selmer range of speaker cabinets and the introduction of a poorly designed range of solid state power amplifiers.
After being passed around several other owners, Selmer once again found itself owned by the Gibson Guitar parent company, this time through a holding company called Norlin Music USA.


The marketing policy adopted by management involved allowing its distributors to arrange short term loans of Gibson instruments on a trial basis.
This was considered an excellent marketing ploy had it been controlled but the reality of the situation was that instrument loans were made freely available to any musician and bands who made a request.


The consequences were that these very expensive musical instruments were used, damaged, and returned unsold to the UK warehouse,
where attempts were made to repair them with the limited facilities on hand, as the distribution agreement with the manufacturing base in Kalamazoo, Michigan did not allow for the return of defective items.
At one time in 1977 there were over one thousand damaged, broken and disassembled Gibson guitars stored in an unheated warehouse in Braintree, Essex.


The factory in Braintree also developed the manufacturing of Lowrey keyboards from KD kits exported from the Chicago manufacturing base of CMI.
These instruments were technically advanced but the build quality was poor compared with keyboards which were just beginning to reach the UK and European markets from Japan.


To supplement earnings the company took the decision to import a low cost Italian designed organ marketed as a Selmer product which was distributed in large numbers by catalogue sales.


Again the return rate, this time due to damage in transit, was significant.
In spite of a rebranding as Norlin Music (UK) the management of the company failed to address the key factors preferring to effect a range of cost cutting measures.


In 1976 Norlin Music Inc., faced with mounting debts, began dismantling Selmer UK piece by piece, until the only facility was a repair center for Lowrey organs with a single employee.


This shut down in the early 1980s. Despite being largely unknown in the U.S., Selmer guitar amplifiers from the early 1960s have begun to gain a reputation as vintage collectibles among valve amplifier enthusiasts.

The Hofner factory at Bubenreuth