Jürss Guitars by Karl Jürss
NAME: Karl Jürss
NICK NAME : Kalle
LIVING IN : Stockholm, Sweden
TRAINING & BACKGROUND: Musikinstrumentakademien or “The Academy of Musical Instruments “in Stockholm
PLAYING: When I sit down and play I usually play either the very first acoustic I built just for my own fun, or the most recent guitar I’ve finished with the purpose of quality testing the instrument.
LUTHIER YOU ADMIRE THE MOST: Well I wouldn’t say there is one particular Luther I admire more than any one else. During my school years I looked up to one of my teachers because of his ability to work in a structured and precise way, every time and without fail. And the other teacher I admired for his passion for the trade and his meticulous attention to details.
INSTRUMENT YOU DREAM TO HAVE ONE DAY: I would really enjoy having a key harp. They are very interesting and sound very powerful. But larger than my dream of owning the actual instrument would be my dream of being able to play it! That would be wonderful!
LAST ALBUM YOU BOUGHT : A local band called “Dictator Ship”s latest release.
LAST MUSIC SONG YOU PUT IN YOUR CAR: Probably something by The Eagles or The tallest man on earth
LAST SHOW YOU WENT TO : The aforementioned band “Dictator Ship”s gig in Stockholm, where I also bought the album
MOST IMPRESSIVE INSTRUMENT YOU EVER HAD IN HAND: Well… I haven’t held many other than my own guitars… I’ve always been to much of a coward to try out impressive instruments when I’ve encountered them..
MOST STRANGE RESTORATION OR REPAIR YOU HAD TO DO : I don’t do a lot of repairs, so my level of strangeness might not be very impressive, but anyway: Probably when I had to refret a guitar on which the owner had replaced a couple of worn frets with small lengths of strings. Looked bad, felt bad and played bad… Happy to have remedied that.
Well if I promptly have to choose just one thing I’d say it’s the sound or voice of the instrument. I have lots of different aspects in mind when I design a guitar, but no matter how great all the other aspects of a guitar is, if it lacks a great voice it wont appeal to me. It’s an instrument after all, with the purpose to make music!
I usually start my process with that aspect in mind, combined with what kind of approach I want in terms of playability. Do I want a responsive guitar made for swift melodies and rapid picking? Or a large voice made more for strumming or rhythm play? Cutaway or not? 12 or 14 frets to the body? And so on..
When Ii’ve decided on which role the instrument will fill I go on to drawing the basic design, and dig into the details after that!
Then there’s always room for improvement, so the first sketch is almost always improved upon at a later point, since it’s hard to predict every outcome of every aspect of a new design.
I do rigorous testing, and try to put my instruments in the hands of professional musicians that can give me feedback, which is what my progess thrives upon. The things I consider when testing a guitar might be different from someone else.
I would like to think that my S-1 is my flagship model, since it’s the first original design. I’ve tried to put as much of myself into that design as possible.
I love the combination of the deep cutaway and the playability that it offers, in combination with the large sound the rather small body offers. It has got a lot off attitude, and invites the player to think outside the box and challenge themselves. Keeping things interesting!
I guess in a way that taps in to my philosophy as a builder, I like to keep things interesting, while at the same time listening to the needs of my customers, providing a high level of customization if desired.
The top is the most important part in the production of sound, and the building technique applied to the top and the other parts of the instrument is vital for the voice of the instrument.
The wood is also very important, but it wont make a guitar if the builder doesn’t know how to use it.
I always try to discuss the customers individual needs prior to confirming the order. Whether they play a certain style, or perhaps have high demands on the guitar performing live? Any certain microphone they prefer, and so on.
If the customer doesn’t have a clear idea of what sound they’re going for and have no experience playing my instruments i try to walk them through every model and talk a bit about what differentiates them, and i might even refer to other customers that play the individual models and why they chose that particular one!
It’s not unusual that i invite potential customers to my shop so that they might try any instruments i currently have, and might get a clearer feel to what my instruments feel and sound like. It’s always nice to talk face to face over a cup of coffee aswell!
Does the customer need any specific measurements on the neck to accommodate certain needs?
Or if the customer has any specific requests in terms of customization, perhaps a beveled armrest? Or some decorative details as a way to personalize the instrument?
It’s always a smoother ride for both the customer and the builder if details are decided upon before the building starts! Never hesitate to ask questions or present suggestions!
Sometimes a custom request involves ordering specific items or parts, which might stall or halt the building if a request pops up mid-build.
And if we’re unlucky I might have passed a certain point in the building that would make the customization very difficult to implement.
A beveled armrest for example requires a reinforcement on the inside of the instrument between the side and the top, and if I’ve already closed the box it’s probably easier to just rebuild the body than to try and alter the already existing one. Which would include extra costs and so on, which sucks..
Well there is Timo Räisänen, who is quite famous within the Swedish Borders!
And then there is Kristian Matsson, AKA The tallest man on earth.
I recommend everyone to listen to their music if you haven’t already! Great stuff!
Two of the first words that come to mind when thinking about swedish luthiers is “high end” & “minimalistic”.
I guess i haven’t put much thought into whether we differ from other countries, but those are some qualities that I feel belong here.
I would assume that to an extent the indigenous species of wood that we have access to makes for a different pallet than what is available in say south east asia.
But then again, the world of guitars/lutherie is often rather traditional, and we live in a society where import/export is very easy…
If possible I try to push the boundaries and enjoy trying out new and local woods!
Perhaps that might be something worth mentioning when talking about swedish lutherie in the future?
If you’re ever in Stockholm just give me a holler and you can swing by my shop and try any guitars I have ready for the moment!
I work with some dealers here in Sweden, for example No1 Guitarshop in Gothenburg, but I’ve also worked with The Fellowship of Acoustics in the Netherlands, which currently have a couple of my guitars.
I’ll be attending a guitarshow in Gothenburg in march 2023, so keep an eye out on social media for more info on that!
We also invite you to follow him on his various social networks:
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