Anthony R. Klassen, a guitar builder and founder of New Era Guitars, passed away December 13 at his home in Furnessville, Indiana. He was 62.
In 1977, Klassen got a ’64 Gibson Dove and became an accomplished player. He attended the American Academy of Art, in Chicago, then became a woodworker in Connecticut, favoring a Shaker style of furniture building. After returning to live to Chicago, he launched a career in graphic design and became a collector of vintage instruments. On a trip to Nashville in ’85, he encountered a Euphonon guitar, made by Larson Brothers, and began to research the brand. Through the years, his interest in instruments deepened, and ultimately led to his founding New Era Guitars in 2005, where he put to use his background in design and woodworking while restoring instruments and building reproductions of instruments by Bacon & Day, Larson Brothers, Kel Kroydon, and others.
“Tony was a dear friend,” said fellow Larson Brothers collector Bob Hartman. “Together, we learned the attributes of instruments built by my grandfather, Carl Larson, and his brother, August. I mailed Tony a note that arrived too late for him to see; it ended with, ‘Our friendship is like laminated braces.’”
This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.