Czech Luthier Zdeněk Rumler invited me to his workshop in South Manchester to see his latest creation, a custom Scarab Fretless Guitar destined for New Zealand next week. From outside the building I could hear a circular saw whirring away so I knew this was the right place. Unfortunately I opened the wrong door, and looked in on the “Celestial Church of Christ Jehovah Emmanuel Parish” I shut the door quickly but too late, a tall lady in yellow robes opened the door to scowl at me, making it plain I was not at all welcome. Luckily the next door was Zdeněk’s workshop and he was busy working on building the case for the new custom order Scarab Fretless Guitar. This was certainly one of the tidiest luthier’s workshop I have ever visited, neat tool racks, and a nice Trace Elliot amp for testing guitars. One the left side of the picture you can see the stacks of guitar woods.
Zdeněk’s passion for detail in his art lives in this workshop, he showed me many examples of his work, from sketches of his ideas through to detailed technical drawings of his guitars (drawn on computer), how he converts these to templates and because these are pin point accurate, all parts fit each other exactly. He is very keen on maintaining maximum sustain and uses hard wood glues because softer glue would reduce sustain. There are no CNC machines in the workshop all the tools and equipment are traditionally what you would have found in a wood working shop before the advent of computers. There is one exception, a laser cutting and engraving tool.
We talked a lot about guitars and the purchasing demographic, he said a lot of people wanted a hand built guitar but when they heard the price they would just go and buy some cheap mass produced guitar but I countered that if you want a quality instrument the price range is the same as yours, in reality Zdeněk is producing hand built custom guitars for the same price as quality CNC built production guitars. So here you can get a unique hand crafted beautiful guitar at a very reasonable price. The big advantage is you get to choose the hardware, the pickups, the finish, literally everything, if only I had met this guy in 2010 when I had some money 🙂
I asked how things were back in the Czech Republic and he said attitudes were changing, especially amongst the younger people, they were turning away from cheaply made goods, looking for more quality items that would last, he said this has not yet happened in the UK, people prefer cheap items and when they fail, they just buy another cheap item. The economy in the Czech republic is becoming more small scale, people buying from people, not large corporations.
The new Scarab Fretless Guitar
Now this is a beauty to behold, it looks better in the flesh than in the pictures. It incorporates some controls I have never seen before, push-push volume / tone controls, which you push, and they pop up, push them again they stay down. This is a much faster response than the conventional pull up – push down type. The second is the selector switch, it has six positions, like a normal three way switch it selects bridge pickup / both /neck pickup as standard but it has a lower and upper set of the three positions. In the lower set the pickups are normal hum-bucker, in the upper set they are single coil.
More info on this great guitar coming soon…..
More workshop pictures