New Arrivals

Welcome Lars Rasmussen

Lars Rasmussen is one of those names in the luthier world that when spoken about people’s ears prick up and listen. With a waiting list of over 2 years and a professional full-time luthier since 2016 and his career has been like a rocket ship with demand for his guitars from clients all over the world. Offering a stunning mix of modern lutherie mixed with a classic look and feel and a toe dipped in that Swedish simplicity and minimalism that we all love so much.

Admired and highly respected by the likes of Dana Bourgeois, Jason Kostal and Ted Åstrand, there is no doubt Lars is the luthier to watch this year.

Both Lars and I have been chatting for some time now about the possibility of us working together and the stars seemed to align last year when we met at the 'Woodstock Invitation Luthiers Showcase' to realise the partnership. It was, in fact, long-standing friend and one of the 'TNAG Original Three' luthiers Jason Kostal, at the show that said if there is anyone you can add to the TNAG roster it should be Lars.

We caught up with Lars earlier this week to chat about his work, studying with the best and how it feels to have the likes of Jason Kostal posting and praising his work on social media.

Lars' guitars on show at 2017

Woodstock Invitation Luthiers Showcase.

BM: Lars it is so great to finally get some time to chat! So first of all can, you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

LR: Hi, thank you for taking the time to talk!

Well, music has always been a big part of my life, and I have always liked making things with my hands... When, in my mid-teens, I realised that guitars were actually made by someone, I became pretty much obsessed with the idea of trying to make one. About the same time I found out about a guitar making school in Stockholm, and I started to do everything I could to get in there. They only accepted two students each year, so I spent two years in cabinet making schools to hone my skills enough to be able to apply. When I finally applied and was accepted, there was no going back, I was so into it!

I came out of lutherie school in 2007, and during my final year there I got to apprentice with Dana Bourgeois (more on that later...) On my final day in his shop, I asked him for advice on how to progress as a luthier, and his short reply was ”Do repairs”. So I did. For the next four years, I worked in Stockholms busiest repair shop and did about 2000 repairs in that time. While doing that, I also slowly started building my own guitars, I did about six guitars a year at that point. After a few years, I was offered a teaching position at my old lutherie school, which was something I couldn't say no to. I spent about five years there as a helping teacher, still building my own guitars on the side. Two years ago, my wife and I had our first child, and I decided that I couldn't do several part time jobs, so I finally took the big jump and started building guitars full time. Im so glad I did! Also, im so glad I had all these years to really hone my skills and find myself and what I wanted my guitars to be like.

BM: Tell us a little about life in your shop?

LR: My shop is located in my home, in the small town of Östertälje, just 30minutes south of Stockholm. Its about 60sqm, half of it is located downstairs in the basement and thats where I do all the woodwork and things that creates dust. Upstairs, I have remodeled an attached garage which is a dust free space where I have a spraybooth and also do all post-finish work, like polishing and setups etc. It so nice to have the shop in my house, i used to rent space in central stockholm, where i had about an hour to commute each way. Now i have about 10 seconds, which is great.

BM: You studied at the world renowned Carl Malmsten School were you made pretty much everything from arch tops to lutes to classical guitars. At what point did you realise you wanted to focus on the steel stringed acoustic guitar?

LR: I have been so fortunate to be able to study at Carl Malmsens. I spent a total of three years there, and we had access to the school shop all day and night, including weekends if we wanted. Being able to fully commit to the craft was awesome, and i am super thankful for the time i got to spend there and to get such a wide variety of experience that has really helped me today. I have always been a fan of the steel string guitar, so when the time came to go for the mandatory internship during the last year, i tried to get in contact with as many steel string builders that i possibly could. I think i contacted about 20 builders around the globe, and naturally, many of them did not have the time or space to take someone on. But in the end, I had a positive response from both Ervin Somogyi and Dana Bourgeois. Those where, and still are, my biggest heroes of this craft, so i was totally overwhelmed. What in impossible choice! I finally came to the decision to go and study for Dana, and a few years later, i also got to spend five weeks with Ervin, so it all worked out in the end.
BM: We are such huge fans of the master Dana Bourgeois and his guitars. What was it like working at his shop under such a pioneer in the industry?
Dana Bourgeois & Lars.
LR: That was the most awesome experience! I got to spend four months with Dana and his crew, working closely with him in the part of the shop that does all the bracework. Each week we had 8 tops and backs to brace and voice, and that experience was of course pure gold to me. That quantity, about 140 guitars in four months, would have taken me 15 years on my own. And also being able to do it all in such a short period of time, having a number of say red spruce, sitka and euro tops side by side, together with a number of brw, indian, madagascar, mahogany backs all at the same time to tap, flex and compare was just the biggest learning experience in my life. And all of that under the guidance of no other than Dana with all his experience and willingness to share it. I am so thankful to him, the things I learned from him really made me jump years ahead in experience. I would higly recommend any young luthier to spend some time in a high end production shop.
BM: Following on from Dana you studied with non other than master that is Ervin Somogyi . Can you tell us a little about this experience and what you learnt to form him?
Ervin Somogyi Modified Dreadnought - Segmented Rosette.
LR: As I mentioned, I got in contact with Ervin already while in lutherie school. When the time came to graduate from there, I was honoured to get a scholarship from the journeymans-board to go on an apprenticeship. That gave me the opportunity to take the voicing class that Ervin offered, and also to stay in his shop for another month as a short apprenticeship. Ervin usually has a two-year program for apprentices, but he was willing to take me on for that short time, which was so very nice of him. I would have loved to stay longer, but the economic reality is that its really hard to pack everything up and leave for two years, especially as i had just started my business back in Stockholm. I don't think Ervin offers the voicing class anymore, but anyone who has taken it can confirm that it is an eye-opener in the approach to the construction of the guitar. Its not a class that teaches exactly how to build a Somogyi guitar, but Ervin was sharing all of his knowledge on each part of the guitar and we had 9 long days to really go deep into discussions on why and why not to do things in certain ways. It really changed my thinking about certain things, forcing me to think things through, which was also very helpful to me when I eventually started teaching guitar making. After the class, I stayed in the shop for a few weeks, being able to spend more time with Ervin and also his two current apprentices at the time, Chris Morimoto and Mark Tripp.

BM: You are great friends with Ted Åstrand (Åstrand Guitars) and Tobias Lindberg (TLL Guitars). That must be great having such close friends in the industry. Do you help each other out when you are stuck on a build?

LR: I am so happy to have both Ted and Tobias as close friends. Sweden is a small country, and I feel lucky to have such talent to bounce ideas with. I got to know both of them when I got the position as a help teacher at my old lutherie school, they were both in my first class. I'm happy that they don't hate me, haha!

BM: Jason Kostal recently wrote on Facebook - "Lars Rasmussen is an incredible guitar builder in Sweden that is making some of the most beautifully clean and tonally articulate guitars that I have ever played…” How does it feel to have such respect from the luthier community?
Jason Kostal exhibiting at The Woodstock Invitational Showcase.
LR: Oh, Jason has been a huge support to me, I really cant put into words how much it means to me to hear such incredibly nice things from such a huge talent. It truly speaks of how big Jasons heart is, that he takes of his time and shows his support to younger builders. His and other builders support has really helped me a lot, and motivates me to keep on building my guitars as good as I possibly can.
BM: What is the Rasmussen Guitars sound?
LR: I would say that the sound of my guitars, naturally, has fallen somewhere inbetween the traditional sound that I leared from Dana, and the more modern voice of Ervins guitars, probably more close to the traditional sound than the modern, meaning that I really strive to have a balanced sound whith fairly precent mids, but still very responsive and with fat and strong trebles.
BM: Can you describe your bracing structure a little for us?
LR: It is also probably closer to the traditional, by modern standard id say that my tops are probably thicker than average, but I also do a fairly light x-brace so that the construction is still very light. This gives the guitar great responsiveness but also maintains mass and solidity in the tone. I like it when there is enough mass there to be able to really push the guitar, and I also believe that a thicker construction develops better with age.
BM: We like to ask this one…what are your favourite materials to work with on your guitars?
LR: If I was only building guitars for myself, they would probably be euro spruce and european maple most of the time. Theres just something in that combination that gives a great punch in the mids, but still that pretty and sweet sweet trebles that i love. That said, there would probably also be a few brazilian and madagascar guitars.. but for tops, its hard to beat a great euro spruce.

BM: How do you overcome setbacks?

LR: Spending about 150-200 hours on each guitar, trying to make it perfect, can sometimes be a challange. Especially the closer it gets to the finish line, the more time it takes to fix things, especially on delicate finishes. One little ding or buff through, and im back four or five weeks if its say an oil varnish. That can be very challenging, so naturally, its important to stay focused and work in a clean shop to minimize the risks for things to happen. When things do happen however, i try not to loose sleep over it. I switch to a different task and come back the day after with fresh eyes. Sometimes it can be fixed easily but sometimes its just better to bite into it and start over with the task.

BM: We have two stunning instruments being built for The North American Guitar which have already sold! A stunning O & C in a matching pair of Brazilian Rosewood (CITIES certified). Can you tell us a little about these guitars?

TNAG's C & O in matching sets of Brazilian Rosewood.

LR: Im so excited for these two! It the first true pair that I'm making, and I cant wait. My stock of Brazilian Rosewood was imported in the early 1950’s and I bought it in the form of raw planks, all about 25-30mm thick. So each block of wood gives me two or three matching sets. The sets for your guitars came from a pretty special plank, with the most stunning figure and spiderwebbing. I got three sets out of it, and heres a picture of one that I just recently made from the third sibling set.

I'm going to Italy in a few weeks to source top woods, and hope to find two tops that were cut next to each other. These guitars will be spectacular, what a great way to start our relationship!

BM: What are your plans for the rest of 2018 and 2019?

LR: In about 3 weeks I'm heading to Japan for the Osaka Sound Messe show, I'm bringing two guitars there, and I'm also finishing a couple more right now, so things are busy. When I come back I will start a few other guitars before I get to do any work on your pair. Oh, and next year I have #100 coming up, that's going to be a special guitar in some way!

BM: Thanks Lars, we are so excited to welcome you to The North American Guitar luthier roster and just cannot wait to get our hands on those guitars!

LR: Thank you Ben, its a huge honour for me, cant wait to see what ideas we can come up with together in the future!

For more information on securing your 2019 build slot with Rasmussen Guitars please contact us on +44 (0) 207 835 5597 or email us here.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the sun!

Ben

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