The German string instrument tradition traces its origins to Jacob Stainer, noted as being the earliest and best known luthier of his time. Until the early 19th century, when power and brilliance became the fashion in violin performance, Stainer’s instruments were more highly praised than Stradivari’s. One of his pupils, Matthias Klotz, became the first in a long line of luthiers. For the next 200 years members of the Klotz family refined and perfected their craft, contributing to the famous German Mittenwald School of violin making.
The Glaesel family story begins in 1720 during the lifetime of Stradivari and Matthias Klotz. Since that time, 48 descendants of the Glaesel family (spanning over 250 years) followed the calling to bowed stringed instruments. Generations of Glaesels have studied at the famous Mittenwald School. In addition to creating fine instruments, other members of the Glaesel family received distinction for specializing in bows and instrument restoration.
Kurt G. Glaesel studied at Mittenwald under the direction of Matthias Klotz. After working in a number of prominent shops in Holland, Switzerland, and Germany, he came to the United States in 1953. Here he established his criteria for full shop adjustment. Full shop a djustment is the process by which imported instruments are assembled, finished, and tested for consistency and strict adherence to quality standards. Students greatly benefit from the availability of affordable instruments crafted in the old world tradition. Kurt Glaesel was even invited by MENC (Music Educators National Conference) to help write their specification standards for acceptable student instruments.
In 1977, the Glaesel String Instrument Service, located in Cleveland, Ohio, was sold to the Selmer Company. In 2015, the string division relocated to Elkhart, Indiana where instruments are still meticulously shop-adjusted using techniques passed down by Kurt Glaesel himself.