The Art of Sound
    Category: Luxury & Lifestyle By : Anton Muhajir Read : 1123 Date : Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 07:54:49

    Courtesy of Blueberry

    Blueberry guitars is the creation of two expatriates and one Balinese, who combine their respective talents to produce some of the world's most interesting guitars. The guitars produced in a small village in Bali sell from anywhere $2,000 to $8,000—each is produced by hand and is custom-built, each registered with a serial number and certificate to guarantee its authenticity. Production of just one guitar can take as long as four months.

    The story of Blueberry guitars began when Canadian businessman Danny Fonfeder was in Bali in 2005 on vacation after a business trip to Asia to check on factories for his school supply company, Buffalo Eastcantra. He had forgotten his guitar in a Hong Kong hotel room so he bought a new one on the island, although it wasn't very good quality.

    So he asked his taxi driver to take him to the best woodcarver in Bali, and wound up in the workshop of Wayan Tuges, a third generation woodcarver, in Guwang village, the center of traditional Balinese wood carving located about 10 km from Denpasar. Tuges's father, Nyoman Rugig, was one of Bali's most respected woodcarvers and Tuges had started carving under his care when he was just five years old. Tuges had also honed his craft at woodcarving workshops abroad.

    Danny asked him to make a guitar for him, and Tuges agreed to make two, which took several months. Both, however, were unplayable as they weighted about 30 pounds each. Yet Danny saw the potential for a business in Tuges's effort.

    Danny went back to North America and found George Morris, a craftsman who had been making guitars and teaching the craft to others for decades, living in Vermont. George agreed to relocate to Bali and for two years he and Tuges perfected the art of creating guitars that both looked and sounded beautiful. The name Blueberry came from Danny's daughter's name.

    In 2007, the trio released their first guitar and sold eight in the first months after opening, including a launch of the brand at the Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada. Fast forward to today, and the trio have sold 1,230 acoustic and 30 electric guitars in the ensuing years.

    Starting this year, Blueberry is ramping up for a major expansion. With backing from Canadian business Ronen Katz, Blueberry will be making a more serious effort to develop a global market for its guitars. Already about 95% of its guitars are sold to non-Indonesians. The output of guitars will be raised to 400 a year. For the first time, the trio are going to musical instrument trade shows and sending out salespeople to find international outlets to carry the brand. The Blueberry website lists merchants carrying its guitars in Canada, Japan, Taiwan, the U.K. and U.S.

    Blueberry guitars are notable for their intricate carvings along the neck, head and base of the guitars. They can be Balinese in origin or other themes, such as one with a gorilla carved into the back or another with celtic lions. They are also made from various precious woods such as rosewood, unlike the traditional spruce used in many guitars. “Our guitars are not just instruments. They are art,” says Tuges.