Promotion Items

the KILN @Indiegogo
4hr Courses

Dear Friends, Guitaring Passionately has began its inaugural acoustic guitar making process in early 2017. Do stay tuned to the progress thru instagram and Facebook.

Check out our Price Busters

Learn practical guitar maintenance skills in our 4hr Courses. Brochure Download here

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jeffrey Yong Guitars Rendezvous @ Tomas Music

Jeff and his freshly made classical
As brief as Jeff’s email, he has arrived in Singapore on the 13 Jan 2011. A few days prior to his arrival Jeff sent me a short email stated his intend to drop by Singapore to take care of some businesses. He suggested to organize a guitar night at some premises. He would like to invite guitar lovers to have the actual "hands-on" experiences with his guitars. Thankfully, Tomas, also the owner of Tomas Music allowed Jeff to have the gathering at his shop. So the rendezvous was set on the 14 Jan 2011.

I met him for breakfast on the 14 Jan 2011 and we chatted about his plans for 2011. It was indeed very interesting because the eventual plan was conceived of a string of unexpected and unwanted external factors. Suffice to say that he has no control over those factors that resulted in the decisions. But what comes after the early disappointment turned out to be a huge blessing instead. Jeff is a man of God. Throughout our conversation he has never stopped praising God for the unexpected and pleasant arrangements that fell into place without much toil and effort required.

For the past few years, Jeff has been participated in the Healdsburg Guitar Festival ( held in States. However his application for year 2011 wasn’t successful. As an experienced guitar maker, he was well aware of the opportunities of attending the festival. He made a request to be re-considered but the organizers were very firmed about their stance. He moved on … Things can never be better timed and arranged; in Dec 2010, Jeff completed his last guitar making class of the year for three overseas students. Each one has guitar making ability at  professional levels and one of them a Canadian. (see picture below, middle)

Jeff's last guitar making class in year 2010. They are all guitar makers.
With hopes for Healdsburg gone, Jeff decided to join the Montreal Guitar Show ( in Canada instead. In a breeze, his application to participate as a luthier in the festival was approved, and the usual uncertainties of obtaining visa to enter Canada and States have never been easier. He attributed all these to God’s intervention. The Canadian student has offered to host Jeff during the show. Incidentally, tri-annual Guild of American Luthiers’ Convention ( is happening in July 2011. These string of events has given Jeff an idea, i.e. to drive from Montreal to Seattle so as to catch both guitar events. The drive is expected to take days so he came out with another idea; to visit any luthiers along the way … that must be a dream for most guitar lovers I reckoned. The eventuality was unexpected and way more interesting than his usual routines at Healdsburg for the past few years. He said; “That can only be God.”

Among all things discussed, Jeff also shared his attitude and thoughts towards guitar making. I vividly recalled the three elements Jeff steadfastly held as the guiding principles as a luthier thus far. They were profound and yet practical,

1. Art
2. Science
3. Craftsmanship


Have anyone got tired of looking at Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, etc? It should be easy for us to agree with at least one of the sports car brands mentioned to qualify as a timeless speed machine. To many people, the iconic Porsche 911 has survived since its inception in 1963. There are many revised models but the basic shapes and forms remain unchanged. It might survive another few decades more. What makes 911 what it is today?

The Iconic 911, launched in 1963

Jeff stresses that to make a guitar aesthetically pleasing, guitar makers should pay close attention in matching the shapes and forms. While there are certain shapes that go well together, there are those that repel. He said that guitar is a three-dimensional article and it possesses area and depth as well. It would be a pity to ignore this art form and simply glue all the wood parts together and hope for the best. Imagine a Martin headstock without rounded corners on a Gibson SJ200 ... During the infancy stages of Jeff's guitar-making career he has studied the shapes and forms of those guitars considered as timeless by most guitar players and lovers. While these intrinsic values are never written in black and white, he is able to discern the importance of this aspect. Following his intuition, it led him to create the OM and JJ models which have been proven successful among guitar players and lovers. Jeff said that people don’t just like any shapes that are made into a guitar. You need to make something people would be able to appreciate.

Do you like all the three guitars below? (See pictures below)

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C


Science is about discovery and evidence. Both aspects must logically support each other. However, love for music and playing is led by intuition which has absolutely zero logical properties in it. Nevertheless, I shall attempt to summarize the abundance knowledge shared by Jeff.

Passion can drive anyone to do things but it does't automatically deliver results. A guitar maker can lose hope when his work is plagued by numerous rejections. Even thousand of hours are spent to build a guitar, it doesn't guarantee quality. Ignoring information and knowledge regarding guitars is setting up an impending failure. Guitar makers are as much a scientist as an artist.

A guitar plan
Taken from:

Tone is sound to any laymen; guitar makers ought to understand the basic principles of sound generation. Guitars are mostly made of wood; guitar makers should be conversant in the acoustic properties and behavior of various woods. Finishing a guitar requires careful mixing of lacquer and other compound; a guitar maker needs to understand the outcome of certain mixes proportion. Removing materials of braces is to manipulate the stiffness of the top and back plates, a guitar maker is required to internalize to intricacies of this process. While the players feel the guitars’ playability, guitar makers are supposed to produce consistencies in this aspect by controlling the related yet minute dimensions on the guitar. Tools and machines are needed to trim and sand while making a guitar, the maker cannot afford to be ignorant to the limitations of these tools and machines. In a nutshell, guitar makers are expected to blend all these knowledge and apply with discernment during the making process.


It would be hard pressed to expect a good guitar from someone who is unable to glue parts together in alignment, or a person who doesn’t know the use of a file, a planer, trimmer, etc. Jeff emphasizes on craftsmanship as the glue that blends both aspects of art and science, transforming the desired intrinsic values into executable work.

Typical wood work

More care is expected

Is a guitar maker also a wood-worker or vice versa? Jeff often uses wood-workers as comparison because of the apparent closeness between the two in many ways. While the two has many parallels, the critical difference lies in attention to detail. A wood-worker can glue two pieces of wood together but a guitar maker will book match the wood grains. When making a dovetail join, a wood worker relies on shims to marry the joints but a guitar maker goes for precision. A wood-worker will sand all corners to similar roundness but a guitar maker knows where should stay sharp where to round off. To trim away excess wood, a wood-worker uses just about any tools that will deliver the fastest results but a guitar maker will use specific tools to achieve completion. When smoothening a wood surface, a wood-worker will use any available sand paper to complete the job but a guitar maker will use a succession of grits grades to obtain a fine finish. When finishing with lacquer, wood-workers would apply coats of lacquer without the knowledge of the composition of the lacquer to volatile fluid but a guitar maker is well aware the composition and the purposes. This should sum up Jeff’s sentiments on craftsmanship.

In summary, the conversation I had with Jeff was extremely rewarding as I have learn abundantly from this man of God the essence of guitar making. In fact, the three elements are very much relevant to anyone who strives for excellence in life. If you manage get to this point, a big thanks for reading.

Pictures taken at Jeff Guitars Rendezvous. Here goes,

Arrived at Roxy Square. It has indeed changed a lot since my last visit ... 

Entrance of Roxy Square
The load ...

Finally, at Tomas Music

Jeremy wasted no time. Digging in ...

Jeff has an apprentice now ...

Jeff's apprentice far left, his parents chatting with Jeff
Shun and his friends ... jamming ...

More ...

More ...

Learning from each other ...

They will play guitar at any place they can find ...

These youth are good at it and they love it too!

At about 2300hrs, we concluded this guitar rendezvous. It was pleasant gathering that was filled with numerous exchange of ideas and knowledge, all driven by the passion for guitars and music. On behalf of the guitar community here, a great thanks to Jeff for sharing his passion for guitars with us. Also not forgetting Tomas Music's generosity in allowing this gathering. Many thanks to the owner of Tomas Music, Tomas and his staff who assisted in many ways that night. God Blesses!


  1. Um...ok, I can still tolerate the "mustache" bridge of the Gibson, but the Edroman and Zemaitis really looks horrible. :P


  2. Ha ha ... which accounts for the Artistic elements as emphasized by Jeff. Guitars need to look good as good as they sound.