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A Year in the Making

It’s been a year and a few days since my interest in building guitars was sparked again and I started on the design of EGS – the Ergonomic Guitar System. It’s been a lot of fun and it has engaged quite a few people around the world, from encouraging cheers to design suggestions via promises of life altering riches. Now that I am stumblingly close to shipping my EGS tremolo and have sold a number of fixed bridge/tuners, I thought I would sum things up.

Black tremolo

Black tremolo

A year ago, when it all started, I had to find a way to capture and publish the information about my project. This was interesting in itself. I had never blogged before, but it seemed like a great format. I tried out several different sites that hosted blogs, but they all had one drawback of other. Eventually, I discovered WordPress and realized that I was already paying my ISP for hosting, so here we are.

Next was refining the design, which was the most fun of it all. Looking back at the posts, I am surprised at how quickly it all took shape and how little things have changed since. I have put in so much effort into this, but all the “real” work was done around Christmas last year.

What has taken so long? I have created an actual product and not just a design, and that has meant a lot of new challenges. Had I had funding, I could have done it much quicker, but I have had to rely on many people’s good will and machine down-time etc, to my low-/no- paying work done. Specialty work, I have had to pay for out of my own pocket. I would like to mention in particular ESSDE without whom, not much at all would have happened. Niklas at ESSDE has been amazing even if I have had to be on his case with a blowtorch a few times a week for the past year. The biggest challenges for ESSDE have been the post that the string rests on and the hardened knife fulcrum. The string rest is a complicated item to machine since the threads have to be synchronized and be made in the same way for each piece. The hardened knife is complicated since it is so thin. Both of these have taken months to get done within my budgetary constraints (again: more money = quicker results). Eventually, I had to take the hardening to an alternate supplier. I was promised the hardened details before Christmas, but still have not received them.

This brings me to my biggest challenge, which has been finding suppliers. From M2 stopper screws and M6 dog-point screws, to hardened knifes and glide bearings. This is all new to me, and driving it alongside a full time job as a director of software at an international biotech company has meant long lead times. Last spring and summer I trained for and completed a triathlon, adding to the complexity of making time. Having most of the work on the bridge outsourced, I hoped would make things simpler. I guess it has, but it does mean lead times as long as I am in the driver’s seat.

Some highlights of what have been the most fun: I learned a lot about using Adobe Illustrator in the early days of the project. In the past week, I have studied photography and Adobe Photoshop to create better product photos. I have learned about vacuum bagging carbon fiber moulds and creating product packaging. I have learned about epoxi plastics, aluminium alloys and surface treatments thereof. It has been a good year for me personally, accepting that Strandberg Guitarworks is still a hobby business.

So now, I am shipping the fixed version of the bridge in black. I am days away (I hope) from shipping the tremolo in silver and black. All I am waiting for is the hardened knives, and I have been promised to get them real soon now…I have samples of tuners in a variety of colors.

Tuner color samples

Tuner color samples

A lot of people have asked about the actual guitar. The answer is that I have been so focused on getting the bridge done that not a lot of progress has been made. I have done some work on the plug for the mould for the twisted fingerboard, so I should be ready with that soon. But I have also come to realize that it might be more sensible and important to get an instrument done quickly. I have material to build a conventional instrument (i.e. no carbon fiber and no twisted neck) so that is what I will do next. I need a good showcase for my bridges and how better to do it than on one of the new designs.

To all of you that have been reading this blog over the past year (I’ve been getting about 40000 hits per month since I started!) – a big thanks! To those that have engaged in discussions and provided suggestions or questioning my design choices – more thanks. To those of you that have purchased a bridge – eternal gratefulness!

Thanks for a great 2008 and I am definitely looking forward to a productive 2009.