In the world of Guitar manufacturing a quiet revolution has been happening. Just as it has with automatic watches and other labour intensive, hand-made creative products, the ‘maker’ has started to make a move into public consciousness.
Major manufacturers like Fender and Gibson are still producing 1000’s of guitars a year in various parts of the world, (like watches, country of manufacture is an important factor in ‘provenance’) but legions of small, and smaller, guitar manufacturers are making a move into a space that can be described, as the French do, as ‘Artisan’ (in a typically French take on culture there are special low tax breaks for ‘Artisans’).
In current parlance the term ‘maker’ has come to define this group of individuals and small businesses that manufacture hand made quality products. Often made to measure for customers and unique in style and execution, these products are much sought after and often change hands for large sums.
Instrument making, and particularly what we would call ‘Signatured’ handmade stringed instrument making, is as old as the hills; we all know the astral sphere level prices that a Stradivarius fetches at auction with the The ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivarius going under the hammer at £9.8 million in 2011.
Current makers don’t quite reach those heights but a base level made to order electric guitar can currently be had for between 2 and 3 thousand pounds.
Which brings us to the purpose of this article and why I’m going on about all this: Making guitars makes dust, and lots of it, and Luthiers, the specialist stringed instrument makers and repairers, have a problem with protecting their airways and lungs from all those very fine particles. A lot of Luthiers just haven’t bothered with wearing a dust mask, but the more enlightened have had to make do with either inadequate protection from cloth and fibre masks or wear enormous gas mask type respirator masks.
But this has all changed now with the launch of the N100 Stealth Mask, a lightweight, comfortable and affordable respirator mask with replaceable filters.
A number of Luthiers have adopted Stealth as their go to dust mask and we’ve spoken to a number of them including OD Guitars, owned and run by Omer Deutsch and his partner Tali Deutsch. From small beginnings less than five years ago, OD Guitars have gone from strength to strength and this year will sell in excess of 60 instruments.
I got a chance to sit down with Omer last week to talk about the business:
Morning Omer, can I ask you first how long you’ve been making instruments and what got you into it in the first place?
I’ve been playing the guitar for over 15 years and been making guitars for around 5 years. I used to be an industrial designer for companies like SodaStream and Maytronics but then I started helping a Russian luthier with design and all his Social media stuff and I quickly got a passion for building instruments.
Your guitars have very unique designs, what inspires you?
I take a lot of inspiration from nature and geometry, it’s been that way since I was at design school more than 13 years ago.
So, if I want a guitar from OD, what is your process?
Well, we have 6 different base models available on our website at https://www.od-guitars.com/ then we spec the instrument depending on the type of music the customer plays and my knowledge of the tonal qualities of different woods. Then we choose a colour scheme and all the other variables I offer, like machine heads, pickups and neck wood. I try not to do anything too crazy as I know what works and I don’t want unhappy customers…
Where do you see yourselves in ten years time?
We’re growing every year, so we have a question of our own to answer, should we grow as a company or stay solo and just get longer lead times for our customers? Our dream is to stay as we are but probably move to a different location and we’re interested in maybe going to Canada.
So, Omer, what’s the deal with you and Stealth Mask?
Clean air is a big thing in a wood based workshop. I keep upgrading the vac system but there is no substitute for a mask. Since I got Stealth Masks I’ve noticed how clear and easy it is to breath when I’m working and I can wear it all day with no problems.
The best sign of clean air breathing is when you take your mask off and all your airways are clear, and this is what happens when I wear Stealth Masks.
Stealth Mask manufacture and sell N100 rated dust masks at https://stealthmask.com
Omer and Tali Deutsch make and sell electric guitars at https://www.od-guitars.com/