It might be a surprising fact for you but in Russia there are still a few factories producing guitars. During Soviet times, Russian people had to buy mostly all locally made products, so guitar manufacturers were blooming. Then, Russia opened its markets to foreign merchandise and many ex-Soviet factories went bankrupt. Many think that Russian guitar makers went bankrupt too and aren’t producing anything now, Chinese stuff is cheaper and often better made. However this is not true, and this is one example of an old Soviet guitar maker that is still making acoustic guitars. Thanks to Russian photo blogger Andrei who went there and took photos we can see what the Russian guitar maker looks like from inside.
This factory has been working since 1974. At first it was Soviet state property, now it’s a private venture.
There is a factory outlet on its grounds selling all of their products at half the price of them in music instruments stores. In total, this factory makes over twenty different guitar models.
Some of the guitar decks are hand painted. They participate in state supported artisan crafts program so they have to hand paint old school motifs and designs, and not just use any they like. On one hand it’s great – it stays conservative and belongs to Russian tradition from other handmade guitars with such artwork, often evoking jokes targeted at such guitar owners.
And here are the factories workshops. Not much has changed since Soviet times.
Each guitar is made from different types of wood: spruce, birch, beech.
Here a man is cutting pieces of plywood which will become the upper and lower decks of a future guitar.
And here is a curve pattern for one of the guitars. It probably remains unchanged from Soviet times, too.
This lady sorts out good pieces of plywood from bad. The ones having knots, swirls or cracks are not accepted.
A few sheets of wood are pressed and glued together to make guitar necks.
The workshop where pieces are being assembled into guitars.
Here a lady is creating those curved guitar shells – the side parts of the guitar.
These presses are used to glue the guitars together.
A worker makes holes in the guitar bodies to insert the guitar necks.
Then all joints are concealed.
And the guitars are set aside to dry out.
Then they are polished.
The next workshop. This stand alone building is where the guitars are being varnished. Andrei couldn’t get in there because the factory people told him it is a highly flammable place and it even has a high risk of explosion, so he only took a photo from outside.
Then after varnishing, the guitars are dried in these driers that look like garages.
And then the guitars go to the final workshop where all the finishing operations and assembly is done.
Here are newly varnished and dried guitar bodies.
And newly varnished guitar necks.
Strings are not tightened by hand – a special machine is used to do this.
Here is the master who tunes up the guitars. His name is Maxim. He emigrated to Russian from Ukraine last year when the war began there. He is from Donetsk. He was a musician back there but now he works in this factory. He earns 12,000 roubles each month, which equals to less than $200.
Some Russian celebrities have ordered their personal custom built guitars from here.
The guitars are ready, they only need to be packed in cardboard boxes.
This is Andrei, the author of this story and photos. Thanks Andrei for sharing it with the world!
This factory also makes wicker chairs. During the 1990s when guitar making couldn’t sustain the factory they started this business and as they say it’s pretty much blooming now.
Here are some samples of their wicker furniture.
Thanks again to Andrei for the photos!
His website is below: