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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Guitaring Passionately to AdamCHAN Guitars

Guitaring Passionately Workshop

It was in 2009 I started providing guitar maintenance and repair services and I named the service Guitar Passionately (GP). It was indeed a mouthful and surely there were no lacking in persuasions to drop such a name. Being obstinate, I kept it. With faith and efforts, GP has grown but not without barriers and setbacks. So why did I do this?

The invention of the KILN has indirectly drawn me into learning about guitars. In the most natural way, it began with maintenance and repairs of guitars. My gut feel told me that for the KILN to be good, comprehension in maintenance and repairs of guitars weren't adequate. It has to be the knowledge of building guitars.

My maiden experience in building guitar took place in August 2010, which I have attended Master Luthier Mr. Jeffrey Yong's guitar making class. It felt like a turning point to me, somehow I didn't jump into actions right away. Instead it has planted a seed within me.

The KILN has her fair share of challenges and eventually the grand dream of hitting the world market in huge numbers was inevitably tamed into handcrafting Rosewood KILNs in GP Workshop and selling them. The consolation was the Rosewood KILN has hit the world market but in much smaller numbers. Dreams and realties are not always the same; a hard truth I have learnt about product invention to marketing.

In April 2014, I took another leap in setting up a guitar workshop to undertake more complicated maintenance and repair works. Deep in my mind, the workshop was inaugurated for building guitar. Having gone through the invention and development of the KILN, I knew it was imperative to set right benchmarks if I want to make it in guitar making. Patiently I began with basic woodworking like building chairs, benches and tables. Learning from these items about the things that matter most.

From 2014 to 2016, the maintenance and repair works have grown in complexities and intricacies. My abilities were stretched and tested. There were again barriers and setbacks that called to me to quit as if I was wasting my time and squandering the faith of my love ones have had on me. There were times that I was almost overwhelmed by obstacles. Nevertheless I pressed on.

S0607 - Spc Black Limba (#001)
Tirelessly, I went on a roll in making jigs and fixtures that would enable a consistence process in making my line of guitars. Again there were no shortage of mistakes and re-works. I began to wonder if I was able to pull it off. Must it be so damn hard to get it right?

Staring at the mistakes, digging deep to comprehend their causalities, a revelation of perspective arose. A guitar maker is a craftsman. To be a craftsman, it wasn't just about passion and determination as many have assumed. It was possessing the humility to accept your work as your own regardless the qualities and outcomes. In a sentence, even with passion and might, my work can still be sucks. At that instance, I was enlightened. It was not just the work, it was me.

In February 2017, I began work on the #001 acoustic guitar in GP Workshop. Symbolically, the making of #001 was like the conception of AdamCHAN Guitars. Step by step it inched towards completion of this #001 guitar; model S0607.

The making of #001 was far from being smooth. I stumble all the way until it was done. Finally on the 9 August 2017, I heard the first chord from the #001. It was unbelievable, it was not perfect but it was honest. I have completed my #001.

I learned that Jeffrey Yong was coming to town to attend Shun Ng's private concert on the 11 August 2017. It was a chance not to be missed because I could get Jeffrey to test play the #001. Jeffrey has been generous in his knowledge of guitar making. Without his mentoring, I wouldn't have been able to make the #001.

Jeffrey is pretty selective about test playing guitars. He would pick all 6 strings with his thumb first. If the tone is not up to his mark, he would leave the guitar. Finally, Jeffrey has arrived to his hotel and I presented #001 to him. He visually inspected #001, offered a few remarks about my finishing job and went on to play the six strings and… he continued to play 2 tunes on my #001! That was a defining moment for me.

I kept the momentum going from August 2017. I have completed 4 guitars today (Feb 2018) and every piece carries my imperfect works. Nevertheless I am happy with them.

In closing I would boldly declare that without my wife's unconditional love and my family's unwavering support, my pursuit would not have arrived to what it is today.

Above all, without HIM I cannot and without me, HE will not.

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