This is how you set the pickup height of the Telecaster
Meet the Builder: Jan Šťovíček from BSG Guitars
In our “Meet the Builder” series we introduce the people behind the brand, talk about music and guitars and ask questions about hotly debated topics.
What made you want to become a luthier? It is very simple. It was music. When I was a teenager I absolutely loved music and still do, so I started to play on an acoustic guitar that was around the house. It was long before 1989, before the “Velvet Revolution” and it was very difficult to buy a good quality instrument in the Czech Republic, so this must have impacted the idea in my mind as it was such a big challenge for me then… but of course, today and looking back it was probably what triggered the step to start building my own guitars.
If you think back to the early days, what was the moment you thought "I can actually do this for a living"? I was building guitars only as a hobby from around 1990, and I was looking for more information on the subject to become better. I found a specialist school for acoustic musical instruments and I graduated in 1992 and started building acoustic guitars here in the Czech Republic. I also have spent about two very valuable years with the oldest and best luthier in the country. This is where I really honed my craft and I learned so much from him. After that, I left the Czech Republic to spent about 3 years in the USA. When I returned home it was then that I decided to work as a luthier full time and that’s when I founded BSG in 2000 in my home town of Zamberk.
How many people work at your shop now? We are a relatively small family-owned company. Currently, there are 6 of us working full time.
What was the most uncommon custom request you have had? We are mostly producing “custom” ordered guitars and there were many customers with some “really” special requests. Mostly it is about the design, like the inlays and purflings and occasionally regarding the construction. We always try to do our best and if it is possible we try to fulfill all the customers ‘requirements, but of course, we stand behind every guitar we make. So if there is something really crazy or an ugly design I sometimes have to say NO, sorry.
What’s your take and experience on the thermal treatment of woods? I do not have such a big experience with thermally treated wood. I prefer natural wood. (Maybe I am a little bit conservative person). Sometimes we are using “torrefied” spruce tops on a request but maybe it is just for customers who do not like the bright color of a “new” spruce top. The “torrefied” spruce looks “vintage”.
Tell us about your favorite personal guitar. What brand and model is it and what makes it so special? I am an active guitar player (I play in a few bands, and we play rock / pop music) so I have quite a few guitars, and most of the guitars I use I have built myself. They include acoustic and electric guitars. Amongst all the acoustic guitars my favorite is the BSG GA33CF (Spruce top with Brazilian rosewood back and sides) and the BSG Dreadnought D37CF (Spruce top and Amazon rosewood back and sides). Regarding the electric guitars I own a Gibson Les Paul which I brought back from the US. It carries with me my memory of my stay in the United States. I have built a few Telecasters as well for myself consisting of swamp ash bodies, flamed maple necks with Brazilian rosewood fingerboards, each with different pickups and configurations, but all with gorgeous sustain and tone. They are a real joy to play live.
What music do you listen to right now? I like all good music, great songs with well-written structures, and thought-provoking lyrics, but not necessarily all from the same genre, that is not so important to me. The reason why I started playing guitar was because of bands like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. I do like the Seattle sound, so Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Sound Garden are great inspirations for me. However, I also enjoy David Bowie and Peter Gabriel too, so overall, I would say that I probably prefer listening to rock music.
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