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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Guangzhou Trip (广州之旅) Dec 2012

At the timber factory

Guangzhou is easily the world’s manufacturing hub, with GDP in 2009 hitting ¥911.28 billion or US $133.5 billion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guangzhou). This province has the highest concentration of manufacturing activities in China. I have heard amazing things about Guangzhou and there is a saying, “You name it, they have it.” This statement has clearly cemented her position. Just about any product you find in the world comes from Guangzhou.

This trip was my maiden visit to this huge manufacturing city. It was indeed more than just eye opening for me. In Singapore we were accustomed to the local perception of huge but in Guangzhou it takes on another new level that only by sight one will come to believe.

Once again, Jeffrey has created this learning opportunity to mentor me. I am greatly gratified by his mentorship in everyway. In this trip, we have visited Fusion Guitar Company and a timber company. I shall begin with our visit to Fusion Guitars.

Jeffrey and Mr. Lee

There are many guitar factories in Guangzhou. Through some past trade shows, Fusion Guitars (http://fusionguitars.cc/fs/index.asp) became our acquaintance. Businesses in China are deeply intertwined with family relationships. Fusion Guitars is no exception either.

Max Lee and I

Fusion Guitars is among one of the many guitar-making factories in Guangzhou. As we know it, the competitive business nature in China, largely driven by foreign companies has stimulated these factories to out do each other in every conceivable factor in this business. Staying afloat is already a daunting task in China, let alone to lead the hungry pack. Mr. Lee founded Fusion Guitars. Working his ways from a humble beginning, he was aided by a team of trusted staff members in growing his businesses. His son Max Lee held a critical role in furthering Fusion Guitar onto the next level. Both of them have extended great hospitality to Jeffrey and I during our short stay. I must say that I was absolutely in the state of受宠若惊. It means the feeling of being overwhelmed with gratitude. Mr. Lee’s sincerity is hard to come by in today’s hostile business environment.

Mr Lee, Mark's son, Wechter, Mark(seated), Jeffrey and I

Jeffrey has allowed me to widen my network reach. Frankly without him building this bridge for me, I will probably get nowhere within such short span in Guangzhou. I can’t emphasize more about his kindness and blessing he has freely bestowed on me.

Jeffrey’s intention was simple; he wished to reciprocate Mr. Lee’s generosity during their early stages of acquaintance. In guitar making regardless of mass manufacturing or hand crafted, acoustic guitar's top plate is the critical success factor. Jeffrey has planned to impart to Fusion Guitars the essence in top plate making. With this intend, Jeffrey spent mammoth part of time with Fusion Guitars. It was obvious that I have benefited from just being there.

Jeffrey showing Max Lee the ways

I was given full access to the factory and I have optimized my accessibility by touring every corner of the factory with the exception of the Holy Grail, i.e. the tonewood storage house. I ought to beat myself severely because of this silly oversight.

In China, one should expect to meet foreigners because the business opportunities are overwhelming. Unexpectedly, I met the man behind Wechter Guitars (http://www.wechterguitars.com/), Abraham Wechter at Fusion Guitars. I have come across Wechter guitars when I started playing guitars. It was an honor to meet the man in person. We had lunches at the factory and exchanged many ideas about guitar making. In reality, I was the one who has benefited more. Once again, I was so pleased to know him.

Me, Lucas, Wechter and Mr. Lee

There was another person I met who has considerable amount of contribution to Lowden Guitars (http://www.georgelowden.com/). His name is Mark. He joined Lowden guitars to fine-tune the process flow in guitar making. He later moved to join Holloway Harp Guitar (http://www.hollowayharpguitars.com/), probably the only mass manufactured Harp Guitars in the world. We all had lunches are Fusion Guitars. It was great to meet another like-minded person. Unfortunately, Mark has met with a traffic accident that left him wounded in his right leg. However, things were going on-track to have his injuries treated.

During my walkabout in Fusion Guitars factory, I was bombarded with sounds, scent, vibration, sights, etc. so many stimuli at once. Their ability to mass-produce things in dazzling speed was indisputable. The process was all laid out, each station specializes in one step, clear standards were set, and the workers were well aware of the expectations on them.

Perhaps they are on their way towards excellence. There was gap in comprehending the essence of quality in guitars as I have observed. An aspect worthy of improvement would be the basic workshop discipline, e.g. cleanliness and neatness. Somehow this basic aspect was subordinated by speed in work processes. Notwithstanding my observations, China factories are capable of making good guitars indeed. I think inculcating premium quality attitude in the workforce isn't a question of comprehension or appreciation; it is merely a matter of time.

Switching from Fusion Guitars, Jeffrey brought me to a timber factor which was a drive of 30 minutes from Fusion Guitar. This timber factor will put any guitar lover in awe. Firstly the scale of the factor, the products they are capable of producing, the speed at which they work, and lastly the variety of wood they possess. I was absolutely marveled. I was fortunate to meet the factory owner as well. Just by listening to the conversation between Jeffrey and the factory owner was interesting enough, the trade secrets were the best scoops.

Jeffrey, Melody and I

Overall, I have benefited tremendously from this trip. Once again, I greatly appreciate the kindness from Mr. Lee and the owner of the timber factor. Most significantly, it was the mentorship from Jeffrey through the trip. It would be just another sightseeing trip have Jeffrey not guided me. What a blessing!

Thanks for reading my stuff! Pictures galore!

Fusion Guitars
Familiar?
Fusion Factory
Choosing the best
Sawing a lumber
Hauling a lumber to saw table
The mother dehumidifier
Sawing
Guitar fingerboard glued
Fixing Rosette
Huge piles of veneers
The just have too much
More lumbers
A lady preparing sides
Ready to ship
Fusion Guitars Factory
Lychee Wood
Max and Lychees
Lychees Galore
Sawing a lumber
Necks
More Necks
Holes for Tuners
Sides
A mold to form sides
More logs

-End of article-

3 comments:

  1. Love the guitar.
    I write and maintain a blog which I have entitled “Accordingtothebook” and I’d like to invite you to follow it. I’m your newest follower.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Adam, thank you for another interesting and informative post. Regards, Pete.

    ReplyDelete