Germany, mid-1960's? No serial number, brand logo or model name. After a lot of research I believe this to be an "Isana" bass guitar.
Luthier Josef Sandner hand-built Isana guitars in small quantities in his 'Specialist Workstation For Jazz Guitars' in Nauheim, near
Frankfurt, Germany from 1951-1974, most notably a number of truly beautiful archtop guitars including one owned by Elvis Presley
during his service in the U.S. Army. Isana as a feminine name in German means “strong willed.” Not sure what the brand name
association is; maybe a wife or daughter? Isana used both decal and raised logos but there are no marks on the headstock to indicate
whether there ever was one.
This instrument has a lot in common with the German-made Hopf Telstar Bass. The finish, electrical and some of the hardware is very
similar, but the body and headstock shapes are slightly different. It is also similar to the Hopf Jupiter 63 guitar body shape, but wood
instead of plastic. The closest match I have seen to this is an Isana electric 6 string; the body shape, finish, electronics, pickguard,
neckplate all seem to match, including the odd use of a plastic strap button on the bottom of the body and a metal button on the upper
horn, although there are some differences in the control layout and the 6 string has an elbow and belly contouring not present on this bass.
The bridge, tailpiece, pickups, tuners were made by Schaller, who supplied a lot of the same parts to different manufacturers. These
pickups (single coils) were also used by Hoyer, Framus and Klira. The nut is made of an unusual “crushed pearl” looking plastic and it
seems to have a non-adjustable rod in the neck, that can be seen at the neck-to-body connection. There are a couple of roller or switch
indicators that are worn off, although the bass certainly does not appear very worn overall. Maybe it was played a lot, but very carefully as
there are no ring or belt buckle marks present. The variety of controls is interesting to play with and I am still not 100% certain what
everything does: the E/A switch (Ein/Aus) is an on/off that sounds like a filter of some sort. The "Ges.V." knob is a master volume and
the "H-B" knob (Hals-Brucke) is a sweep between the neck and bridge pickup. At 29 1/2" scale and with a very flat fretboard this is quite
comfortable, easy to play and lends itself to bending and left hand vibrato.
To the best of my knowledge, Isana guitars were never imported to the U.S.; I would guess this was brought back by a traveler or perhaps
a service member stationed in Germany.
Thanks to Black Guitars of Melbourne, Australia for the Isana history posted on their website, www.blackguitars.com.