Thursday, 10 January 2019

Boring Stuff




Happy New Year to you all!

It`s six years of Voss Guitars! And because I am at home since the end of November to take care of my youngest daughter (she is going to the kindergarten for 3 hours now!) and my son, I have plenty of  time to recapitulate about these six years. Which is pretty much fun and I am often amazed what happened in these years.
When I started the blog I wanted to share some of the process of starting a luthier business. But I left out a lot of the boring stuff ,like the paperwork, and focused on my building and the instruments. which is a lot more fun to take photos off and share them. Also I left out a lot of the personal side. Although this might fall into the category of boring stuff as well.

Therefore I am going to write about some of this boring stuff now.

Becoming a luthier was not a wise decision. It started as a very naive social romantic utopia in my head. And it was a call. It challenged me like nothing has ever challenged me before in my hole live (this was before having Kids). When I started at Stephan Schlemper`s shop I had no woodworking experience before. And I made so many mistakes I was surprised he continued to let me work on his guitars. The funny thing was that I knew from the moment I discovered luthiery as a career that this is what I have to do in life. Which was perfectly right although I could not know what to expect of it because I didn`t have any experience whatsoever.

I finished my apprenticeship after three years, married my (then) wife and opened my own shop six months later. During this time I started to work as a postman again and I continued to carry the post on saturdays for two years. Monday to Friday I was in the shop. I build my first guitars and was so incredibly lucky that I found people who liked them and I even sold one of my first Instruments a few months after it was finished to a lovely guy who became a friend later. From then on my business would carry itself. I could pay the dues. And it never stopped. Sometimes it feels unreal to me that an operation like that is actually working.

In September 2014 our son was born. Lovely times. A new adventure started. And the extra hours in the shop payed off because I could reduce my time there and spend time with the new addition of my family. I spend two really happy months at home. But only 3 weeks later I got a call and was told that the Deusche Post AG will not extend my contract. That was desastrous news. Two weeks before Christmas I knew I will loose my Job on which I depend to pay my social insurance costs. It was the first time (but surely not the last) I thought I`d better close the shop and get a "real" job.
So the next year was very mixed feelings. I had my first Baby which gave me endless joy but so many worries about the future. It was hard on my psyche and even my body. I developed a slipped disc by october.
After a year of unemployment money and mini business I turned fulltime untill I ran out of money. Just in the right moment I found a job again and so in June 2016 I started working in the logistics department of Ikea.
I am still working there every Friday and I love it. I did not even expect that I would enjoy driving the forklift that much. In November 2017 our daughter was born and again I tried to reduce my workshop time as much as I could. I just spend enough time as I needed to be able to pay my dues. And this was hard sometimes. Not only did I need to be very focused and effecient (I still spend about 200 hours on an instrument) but I love being in the shop as much as I love being with my family. Getting the balance is still a huge struggle for me.

Right now I am at home for some weeks and accompany my daughters addaptation phase in kindergarten. I am super happy to be so fortunate that this is possible. And I am even more happy about this all, having my Job and my shop and my family. Life is treating me well. Very well.

To all of my Friends and customers, to my colleagues whom I share my shop with and especially to my ever supportive wife and my family. I love you all. Thank you so much!

I wish you all a great 2019!

Yours,
Alexander

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Backs


More work done and I am making slow progress. Got some beautiful wood braced for backs. It is Indian rosewood and American black walnut. Both braced with Jeff Traugotts design of the floating back bracing.









Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Tops




On most of my guitars I use what I call a inner soundhole binding. It serves two functions. It marries the top with the soundhole patch together and seals up the endgrain surface which, in my opinion, prevents the top wood from absorbing moisture too fast. And it looks cool. Maybe thats the main purpose. Just kidding.


This ring is between 1 and 2 mm thick and bend on the bending iron to fit. It is necessary to cut it perfectly to the length so that it just fits into the soundhole without leaving to much of a gap at the joint.



This is the top and back for one of my current builds. It`s a cedar top paired with Indian rosewood for the back and sides. I love this combination. It can give you a powerful fingerstyle Instrument which is very responsive to a light touch. I am about to create a new body style for this particular Instrument which will become my model J. As the J sugests this was intended to be a Jumbo sized guitar or at least very much inspired by the Gibson J45 models. But to make it more versatile and Fitting to the clients needs I reduced the size again which will end up with almost OM like dimensions but a little wider at the waist. I am very excited about it. I have to admit that new body styles always get me excited.


The other top I was working on was a wonderful bearclaw spruce from Germany. But during the process it turned out it had some darker grain in the middle which I first thought to be left over sanding marks. It turned out I was wrong but I only knew after I had finish sanded the top with the rosette already installed. So this top is not making the cut for the intended build and I would make another one.


It was the first time I was copying my own work and I felt very "productive" for a short moment. But I happened to like this rosette quite a bit. It is intended for a Martin 00 Style 27 parlor guitar.
Of course this top would get the soundhole binding as well.







Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Custom Herringbone


I love it to be challenged by custom requirements. A customer asked me to build a Martin inspired Parlor guitar in Style 27 or 34. This included myking a custom wooden purfling for this guitar.
I found the Inspiration for this herringbone pattern in a rosette by luthier John Bogdanovich.




Sunday, 30 September 2018

Guitars in Osnabrück



I am very happy to receive such a wonderfull review from Peter Finger who just picked up two guitars I build for the Guitar Basar in Osnabrück. It is an honor and a great pleasure to be part of their selected range of guitars.
If you followed my blog over the last month you will probably know that the Instruments I build for them are an OM model made of old Sitka Spruce for the top and some very nice straight grain Italian Olivewood for the back and sides, and a 12 fret 00 model made of Alpine Spruce for the top and figured Bubinga for the back and sides.

Happy to share this video with you!

By the way. I am a little late as the video has already been online since last Friday and the OM sold only two days later!

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Parlors


Its not too often that you have the chance to have your just finished guitar next to the 95(!) year old equivalent. I couldn't resist to take a few shots of these two pals. This is my freshly strung up 00 Parlor model next to a 0-18 build by the C.F.Martin Co. for the Oliver Ditson Company in 1923.
Both are made with a spruce top and it's fantastic to see how dramatic the colour of the spruce changes with age. The 0-18 of course features some beautiful quality mahogany which was standart by then on all the 18 series models whereas my Parlor has back and sides made of figured Bubinga.
Soundwise they are very diffenrent to each other. For me if I could choose to own one of them it would be a tough choice. And I am very happy I can honestly say that. Some of these prewar guitars still set the bar for todays acoustic steelstring guitars. The craftsmanship is perfect and the sound is amazing and it makes me happy and proud that I can say I created my own version that feels for me is very different and probably made for a different musical taste but it is equally good. As I mentioned there are 3 generations between them.






Sunday, 22 July 2018

In between sanding


The last steps before the third guitar is ready for finish. Pore filling and sanding is done.