- May 30th, 2010
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Frank Hartung has quickly joined the ranks of some of the most legendary builders. A carpenter by trade; Frank decided to try his hand at guitar building after finding what was on the market to be less than suitable for his needs.
With an impressive collection of his own line of guitars, including but not limited to the Diavolo and Embrace which cannot be mistaken for anything other than franks creations. Frank has built guitars for many European acts as well as World renown guitarist Steve Stevens.
It’s only a matter of time before franks name starts getting thrown into conversations about Hauser, Les Paul and Leo Fender.
Frank gives a tell all on how he became one of the most cutting edge innovative builders of the Decade.
Customguitarboutique.com: Lets start from the beginning how did you generate interest in the guitar?
Frank Hartung: Like so many people my musical tastes changed over the course of time.
Growing up I was interested in rock, blues and metal music. My favorite band at that time greatly influenced me, especially the guitar parts.
So I started getting interested in guitar and learning to play guitar.
CGB: What inspired you to become a luthier?
Frank Hartung: I bought a guitar from a reputable manufacturer. Unfortunately, I was not satisfied and tried to make improvements, which were limited. I studied the design and dimensions.
Because Im a skilled carpenter and I knew how to work wood, I thought to myself, “I’ll try it just once”.
My first guitar, ENIGMA blue had become very good, Other Luthiers confirmed that and the guitar building bug bit me ……
This was followed by more and more guitars, which then sold fairly quickly, that was a sign that I was on the right path.
CGB: Since day one of becoming a luthier, after all the experience through the years what is the fundamental thing you still do today that you did in the beginning?
Frank Hartung: There really are not many things that I’ve changed over the years.
Of course, you learn a lot about this, this is quite normal. I now work more conscientiously because I know what it takes.
The model forms have been refined a little, the materials are made of high quality, and last but not least you get develop an ear for the way a guitar should sound.
But basically has not changed much, for me it’s still just as exciting as the beginning.
CGB: What is your luthier or guitar building horror story?
Frank Hartung: A horror story would be if during a performance in front of 100.000 people one of my guitars would fall apart or wouldn’t work. Fortunately that has not yet happened, it’s also not likely to. But such thoughts still keep me awake at night.
CGB: How different are things today as far as luthery and the industry goes from when you first started building, any significant changes?
Frank Hartung: Today, there are much better tools to make this a lot easier. Nevertheless, it remains a handmade guitar, despite all the technology.
Another important point is the Internet, without that I would not be able to offer my guitars in the States. That is probably the most important change in our time and we take it for granted.
CGB: Have you ever had to deal with a customer who knew for sure they wanted a guitar from you, and then when you asked them what they were looking for, had the slightest clue about why they wanted one of your guitars? How did you deal with it?
Frank Hartung: I believe everyone is a little afraid of what hasn’t been done before.
There are certainly things that are feasible, but also those which cannot be done, simply because it is too specific and there is no (Luthier) background
knowledge required. I think you should be honest with yourself about your limitations.
CGB: Do you have any favorite woods as far as sound and ease of use? For example, I know cocobolo is very dense and can be a challenge to carve by hand.
Frank Hartung: My favorite wood is actually maple, even though it is quite traditional.
It grows in many different species such as birds eye maple, flamed and quilted. Maple is very diverse and fully carved and painted it just looks fantastic.
Thats my favorite.
CGB: What would you say to up and coming builders who are just starting out?
Frank Hartung: I would say: believe in yourself, and you will get the necessary staying power to be successful!
CGB: In your opinion who is the most influential Luthier?
Frank Hartung: For me Teuffel Ulrich is the most influential luthiers of our time. He is innovative, accurate and it knows how to work logically.
His instruments are works of art in itself.
customguitarboutique.com is a full line dealer for Franks guitars, if you are considering purchasing one,