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.

As a little surprise for the owner I engraved his initials “M.N.Des.” in the lower right hand corner. Original Höfners have the text “D.G.M. ang.” in that place…

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

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.

Guncaster

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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.

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The Machine…

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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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