My Name is Henrik Jansson. I am 32 years old and I come from Sweden. I am taking a guitar making course in Stockholm, at Carl Malmsten Center for Wood Technology and Design. The course is three years long and when I graduate I will have the Journey man’s Certificate and a Bachelor Degree in Guitar making. This is my final year and we have a trainee period for eight weeks. Because of my great passion for the classical guitar and the flamenco guitar I really wanted to go to someone who had both time and knowledge to teach me what the making of good sound really is all about. So I contacted Robert Ruck because I knew he is one of the best. He said that he had too much work going on, but instead of just saying no he gave me names of a few other makers, among them Mr. Neil Ostberg.
Neil and I wrote e-mails back and forth for six months. I wanted him to know what I was looking for. And I guess that Neil wanted me to know what to expect when I got there. Some students choose to go to several different guitar factories, just to see the work procedure of a great guitar company. I wanted to learn the traditional old Spanish way of making the guitar. I wanted to learn to make good sound and also learn to French polish.
We decided that I should make two guitars. One flamenco guitar, ( Santos Hernandez), and a classical guitar ( Antonio De Torres). For the soundboard Neil supplied me with the ugliest spruce I have ever seen. He was laughing as he held the spruce top up to the light and said “Take a look at all that shit in there”, but he made a very interesting point by this. The purpose of this wood was to get me to understand that with the right technique, you can actually make a beautiful sounding guitar. For the back and sides he gave me some nice looking black cherry from his own land.
There are lots of things I did not know about guitar making before I came here. I have made seven guitars so far at the school in Stockholm, and yet when I started to make these two in Neil’s shop, I was back on square one again. I had for instance never made a guitar by using only hide glue. I hade never worked with weights instead of clamps. I hade never used shellac before. Through the construction of these two guitars Neil has shown me different ways to do things, and then explained to me why one way is better than the other. And every now and then he takes me aside and shows me some old articles or a repair technique I may have use of in the future. Even with two years of study at Carl Malmsten CTD, at Neil’s shop I have taken many important steps which have raised my skills to a much higher level.