From his workshop in Cape Town, South Africa, Theunis Fick is fresh building guitars from the Galloup School of Guitar Building in Michigan, USA, as well as an apprenticeship with Casimi Guitars. TNAG Connoisseur chats to Theunis ahead of receiving his first builds into The North American Guitar.
Theunis Fick is considered and orderly. He’s not the guy who's going to jump to rash decisions and conclusions, but one who’s going to study the route and apply logic and reasoning before he gets there. He’s relatively young, but wise ahead of his years. His attitudes and perspectives are firmly rooted in science, mechanics and modernism. And he trained and worked as a civil engineer, so it’s no surprise those three attributes are crystal clear when speaking with him. More than anything, though, Theunis Fick is on a mission.
“I want to pursue a deep understanding of the physics of the acoustic guitar, while striving to master the craft of building one. I want to create instruments worthy of the most discerning musicians. I hope that, through a holistic understanding of the guitar and the application of engineering principles in designing and analyzing the instrument, the acoustic guitar can be optimized beyond its current form,” says Theunis sitting at his desk in Cape Town.
During his time studying a degree in civil engineering, Theunis embarked on a weekend guitar building course with Casimi Guitars—note this isn’t an apprenticeship (yet) but a Saturday course where students would study guitar building under the tutelage of Casimi luthiers, taking between 9 and 18 months to produce their own instrument.
But it wasn’t Casimi where Theunis had his first guitar making ‘moment’. The first builder he encountered was Marc Maingard (under whom both Casimi luthiers received their own tutelage).
“For a long time, I just had this idea that Marc Maingard was the only person in the world building guitars by hand. Which obviously is ridiculous! But I never looked into it when I was younger, and then a few years later I encountered a retired guy who was building guitars in his garage. He was a retired civil engineer, so then I was like, ‘Well I'm doing civil engineering, maybe one day when I retire, I can get into this?’,” he says.