Over the past decades guitar manufacture has primarily been driven by the quest for increased output, which means producing more guitars with relatively small effort. Newly invented materials, tools, and machines have found their way into guitar production and consequently have led to more automated procedures in the guitar building process.
What has been lost is the old craft art that had been passed on and improved upon over generations of artisans, finding its peak in the first half of the 20th century with the construction of superb steel string guitars. These old and almost forgotten traditional craft methods form the center of the guitar manufacturing process at Blazer & Henkes.
We will not compromise quality in design, materials, and production, thus leading to the high quality and uniqueness of our guitars. Since we build each instrument completely by hand, we can offer a variety of instruments with a high level of individuality and versatility. In addition, you can further customize your instrument by choosing from a list of options, including special inlays, materials, or dimensions. (-> Options)
The methods of construction and design of Blazer & Henkes guitars originate from the 1920s and ‘30s, which are regarded by many as the Golden Era of the modern steel string guitar. The same is true for the traditional construction details that can be found on old Martins, Gibsons, Stellas and the guitars of the Larson Bros.: radiused tops and bracing; mortised and scalloped X-braces, ladder bracing, and laminated top braces; light but still solid construction; old fashioned nitrocellulose lacquer or natural resin spirit varnishes; deep sunburst finishes with smooth shading effects; hand-carved pyramid bridges; hand-fitted pearl inlays, etc.
We also regard traditional craft methods to be particularly important: As an example, we use exclusively old-fashioned and top quality leather hide glue for all glue joints. In our opinion, hide glues surpass any modern glue in regard to sound transmission and stability, and they also have big advantages in case of repairs. We also use hide glue for pearl inlays in the old way.
In the area of finishing, we also prefer traditional materials and methods. We exclusively use nitrocellulose lacquer or natural resin spirit finishes without any primers or fillers. In addition to their excellent sound qualities these old-fashioned lacquers have another big advantage. They present the beauty of the wood with unsurpassed deepness and transparency, they age beautifully, and they create brilliant sunburst finishes with extremely smooth shading transitions.
Design and aesthetics, as well as construction and craft methods, are the determining factors for the most important characteristic of a musical instrument: Tone. Sound properties and quality of tone start with the design and will be transformed through the construction and finally by the crafting. The quest for the optimization of this process is the reason why we are building guitars – Henkes & Blazer guitars are built to set the standard for handcrafted instruments.