A Höfner and a Gun…

Hofner and Vox HumanaThere is quite a lot going on in the shop at the moment. I finally got the feeling that I’m alive again.

Last week I completed the restoration of  a lovely Dutch made archtop from 1948 (more on that one later) and some customizations on an early sixties Höfner Senator…

The original pickup was missing and replaced by a Schaller humbucker attached to the end of the neck. It looked way to modern, and didn’t fit with the pickguard. Instead of the Schaller the owner wanted a Teisco-style goldfoil with a custom wiring schematic.

Hofner Mojo pickups

The original celluloid pickguard was still there, but we regarded it too brittle to use again. Also it would have to be cut down to follow the shape of the pickup. So I made a new pickguard of 4-ply tortoise…

Control plateThere was only one difficulty: the letters on the control plate. Original plates are quite rare and didn’t fit the requirements for the custom setup: Volume, Tone and a three-way switch to select different paper-in-oil capacitors.

It’s quite simple to make a rectangular control plate, but we agreed that it needed to have the original lettering to keep in style. So that was a little problem. Originally the inscription was probably done by an engraving machine, but I don’t have one of those. Doing it by hand was no option, so we needed somebody with a CNC-router…

Der Gun-Meister…


Eugen in his workshop

Fortunately I know someone who built his own CNC machine; Haarlem based luthier and friend Eugen Wulff of Gun Guitars. He’s one of the few true renaissance men I know. His life motto seems to be “Well, someone made it, so I can make it myself”. Eugen makes the coolest guitars you will ever see.




The custom frontplate of the router

As a child he got bitten by a design bug and ever since he has got a keen eye for vintage designs. His guitars have the looks and feel of the great Fender, Gibson, Valco, Harmony, Danelectro, Supro instruments we all long for… A vintage vibe, but made with a better built quality and playability.


The Machine…


I love to have an excuse to travel to Haarlem and visit Eugen. One problem: we never stop talking; from discussing tools, techniques, problems, repairs, materials and lacquer to cars, vintage radios, music, cool projects and crazy ideas. All fueled by strong coffee and two creative brains that never rest… It’s like recharging a battery. There are few people with this gift, literally one-in-a-million.

Seeing a CNC machine in action is always somewhat magical. Like staring into a fire or observing ants making a nest. It seems like a living creature. I know a lot of guitar makers who are very opposed to this type of technology and call it “cheating”. But I think it can have its place. It’s just a new tool. The idea that you press a button and the machine does the rest is false. The same thing was said at the advent of photography. After machining you still have a lot of work left to do. Yes, there are some “builders” out there who take a body right from the router into the spray booth. But have you ever held and played a guitar that was made that way? Generally they are horrible. We tend to blame this on the CNC technology, but it’s really caused by the neglect of its master…

Eugen is non of this sort and makes some of the finest guitars you will ever play. In fact he is on of the few builders of whom I would like to buy a guitar myself some day…

Visit his site at www.guncustoms.nl


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Garbage – pt. 2

Last week I posted the song “Garbage, Garbage, Garbage” by Pete Seeger.

To me the strength of Pete’s songs is that they can be shared. Covers by others have become classics (“If I Had A Hammer” by Trini Lopez or “Turn Turn Turn” by The Byrds). But he also made his versions of great songs (Joni Mitchel’s “Both Sides Now” or Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” and “Forever Young”).

But who better to ask for a new version of “Garbage, Garbage, Garbage” than Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch, the most famous waste expert on the planet?

The song was written by Bill Steele in 1969, Seeger recorded it in the seventies. He added one verse:

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Open letter to Donald Trump

img_5391Dear mr. Trump,

I know you are a very busy man, and probably have no time to read this, but hope you will find a moment to do so anyway. You probably don’t know me, but when you’ve reached this blog you will become familiar with my work. I’m a young luthier (two years younger than your son Eric) from the Netherlands. Turning blocks of wood into instruments by day and writing by night.

A few months ago I posted an open invitation addressed to you, on my blog. You probably missed it due to your overloaded
agenda and obligations over the last months. It happens to any of us, so no problem.

imageI would like to invite you to come over to my workshop in the Netherlands to make a guitar together (or a lute, whatever you prefer). It’s a little shop on the edge of the woods, near an old castle. A haven of peace and quiet, a place where people can come to get some relief from the strains of everyday life. A place where someone doesn’t have to shout to be heard (unless we’re working with the table saw or testing an electric guitar).

Making a musical instrument will be one of the most beautiful experiences you will have in your life. It is simple, true and honest work. Making something with your own two hands: cutting and gluing the wood, planing, rasping, filing, sanding and finishing. You will be astounded by what your own hands can achieve and to see how the instrument grows. But it can also be quite a challenge, as people often find and overcome their own limits. Sometimes a subtle puzzle, sometimes a though workout. Shavings...Wood doesn’t lie mr. Trump, it gives direct feedback of what you do to it. Making a guitar can be a quite transformative and even transcendent experience. It makes us resourceful. A handmade artefact often tells a lot about its maker. Discover true craftsmanship, the a combination of body and mind, theory and practice.

When I work together with people I like to get to know them. Who are you really mr. Trump? What are your dreams and visions? What’s behind that mask of that shrewd businessman? The man of “The Art of the Deal”. Are you really the strongman who stops for nobody? Or is that a character you play for the general public? I would like to understand your ideas and motives. Apart from the rhetoric shrouding them. Are the things you say real proposals? Or do you say them only for effect? Why the strong words? Is it to impress people, or convince yourself? And how do you think to pull it off? I have heard many ideas, but no real plans to back them up. How to put them into practice? And what will be the consequences? For yourself, for the American people, but also for people in other countries?

TrumpUp until now your ideas and actions already made quite an impression on me mr. Trump. Every time everybody thought reached your climax there was another thing to top it up. But I would like to know whether that is the real you? What are your personal dreams and goals? What were your childhood dreams? What dit your parents say about them? Have they come true? And why the bitterness?


As I said, you are more than welcome to spend some time in my workshop. To work together or simply sig down with a good cup of coffee. It’s a place where magic happens, where people can be honest and where you don’t have to impress other people. So there is no need for pumped up locker room talk. In my former job I had a couple of colleagues who liked that, but it’s just not my thing. I don’t think you are an evil man mr. Trump, but simply don’t understand your views and ideas and would love to have a face to face chat about them. We have a couple of things in common: easily bored, full of ideas and a mind of our own. I’m not a businessman like you, but make things with my own two hands. And with those hands I try to add a little beauty to the world around us. Believing in honesty, doing a good job and giving people quality, preferably more than they expected. Seeing the good in people, regardless of their faith or ancestry. And convinced of the fact that there is always a way for people to learn and better themselves.

I know that in the recent months there has been a lot of fuss about your hands. People made jokes about them and used it as a way to belittle you. That must have been hard, because the hands are some of the most wonderful parts of the human body. Our opposing thumb is one of the few things that distinguishes us from other monkeys. It gives us the ability to grab something
Hands(as you so elaborately noticed yourself). But I would like to show you that we can do so much more and better with our hands than touching a woman’s genitalia against her will… Can put these little grabbers to work, to use tools and actually MAKE something. A little known fact: small hands can actually be very beneficial for guitar makers, a lot of my colleagues have a hard time working inside of instruments, simply because their hands can’t pass through the soundhole. imageHands can be used for good and bad, to make guitars, give out and share food, but also to shoot a gun or punch someone in the face. It’s up to us how we choose to use them. There are great possibilities in our hands. But as you know, with great power comes great responsibility; the obligation to do good unto the people entrusted in our hands, and not only stuff our own pockets. Like with the 2nd amendment; the right to bear arms is intertwined with responsibility responsible use and proper care of them. Unfortunately the latter is often forgotten.

I know you are busy with the elections and all. But I hope this open invitation will find its way to your desk somehow. If you choose to take on this challenge and make a guitar, please contact me via the form or drop me a line at Facebook. I promise to welcome you with open hands. There are no strings attached, I’m not interested in your money. The only thing I ask is your honesty, an open mind and open heart.



Jan van Cappelle – The Dutch Luthier



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Two vintage beauties…

Just finished work on these lovely archtops.

Hofner and Vox Humana

An early Hofner Senator thinline (ca.1960) and the Vox Humana “Euterpe” from the late 1940’s…

More about the restoration of the Vox Humana later…

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Making Nixie tubes

How cool is this?

A little company from the Czech Republic called “Dalibor Farny” started to produce Nixie tubes again. While these tubes with number shaped glow spirals are very cool by themselves, the process of making them is even more breathtaking…

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Garbage – Pete Seeger

Wow, I just discovered this song by Pete Seeger.

Even though it is written years ago, its message is still viable. Maybe today even more than ever. The strain we put on the world, but also the political and cultural mess we find ourselves in. Our unlimited consumerism and the hatred towards others. I sometimes wonder what Seeger would have thought and said about the present state of the world around us.

It could very well be the anthem of our time…

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Tommy Emmanuel’s TED-Talk

A wonderful and inspiring speech by Tommy Emmanuel.

I can relate to his notion of making good things, and trying to make people happy with it.

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