Armin Hanika Luthier Interview 1 Background
My father, Helmut Hanika, founded our guitar manufacture in 1953.
Under the name “SOLI” he built a wide variety of guitar models, for example archtop-guitars and Hawaiian guitars. From 1965 he specialized in classical guitars and sold his instruments under the brand name “Helmut Hanika concert guitars”. In 1980, at the age of 16, I began my apprenticeship as a plucked instrument maker with my father and passed my master’s luthier examination in 1987. In 1993 I took over the workshop from my father, which has been called “Armin Hanika Gitarrenbau” since then.
In Germany, the training in the plucked instrument maker trade is regulated.
Someone may only call himself a plucked instrument maker or luthier, if he has completed this training, which usually lasts three years.
We also train luthiers in our workshop.
Unfortunately, I can’t really play the guitar by myself, but I definitely wouldn’t have time for it.
We also make “customized instruments”, but mainly standard models. In addition, we only repair our own instruments.
We have many “flagship models”
Because we offer the optimal configuration for different requirements in four model lines:
But we also produce unusual special models in our custom shop.
For example a 7-string special model with an extended bass range through a theorbed and individually fixable 7th string, see https://www.hanika.de/de/news/newsbeitrag/id-7-saitige-gitarre-fuer-daniel-goeritz.html
Yes, we use modern computer tools in the field of design (CAD-CAM) and in the production (5-axis CNC technology), too.
We have a large network of music shops where our customers can test our instruments, and we are also available by e-mail or phone to answer any question.
Our extremely well-stocked wood store, in which we have sufficient and well-stored qualities of all essential instrument woods and some special materials helps us to meet the requirements of our customers.
We have regular suppliers.
For example Scheller Gitarrenmechaniken GmbH in Halblech, Germany for machine heads and Tonewood Switzerland Florinett AG in Bergün, Switzerland for spruce tops, but we are always open for new offers and ideas.
Music fairs such as the “NAMM Show” in Anaheim or the “Music China” in Shanghai are usually good starting points for this.
We also buy wood from our region. We saw it by ourselves and use it for making the instruments in our “native range”.
In addition to the short transport routes, this has the advantage that we can use every part of the tree.
From a log we can make back and sides, necks, neck reinforcements, fingerboards, bridges, pieces for rosettes and what is left is used for heating our workshop.
We have developed a unique thermal treatment process which activates and accelerates the modification and ageing processes of the wood. This makes it similar in its properties to exotic wood.
In the meantime, we are making more and more of the parts we need (bindings, rosettes, bridges) by ourselves in order to avoid delivery difficulties or quality problems from our suppliers.
Pickups are less relevant for the classical guitar.
We rely on decades of experience and long-term business relationships with manufacturers known to us in order to be able to offer stable systems.
We use UV-curing acrylic and polyurethane varnishes.
For many models of our professional line we also use French polish.
When selecting the varnishes, the decisive factor for us is, how thin they can be made for the given price.
Elekto-acoustic sensors are not relevant for us because we make acoustic concert guitars.
The fingerboard is of minor importance for the sound of a concert guitar. Resilience and sorption are much more important.
We recommend a good training.
Young luthiers should questioning construction methods and processes and take physics seriously.
In Germany you can be trained in workshops with a master luthier or in a special colleges:
We don´t agree with the statement that a beginning guitar maker has to make substantial material investments.
Wood can already be bought stored and dry. A large machine park is not absolutely necessary. There is no minimum or maximum, it is much more important that you can sell your instruments.
The real problem is the marketing.
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