It was with some satisfaction that I read our veteran gear editor Dave Burrluck’s review of the .strandberg Boden Original NX 6 (see review, page 90). Over the years, Dave’s seen and played it all, pretty much, so rare is the occasion he writes that a piece of gear has shifted his perceptions of how to make a good guitar – and yet so it turned out to be with the .strandberg. That guitar is even more interesting as a symbol of where guitar making is at these days (see cover feature, page 62), as the brand has never built guitars in large numbers in its home country of Sweden. Instead, founder Ola Strandberg has sought out the best place to have his interesting designs made, trying US production for a while then moving on to highquality makers in Japan, Korea and now Indonesia.
A lazy analysis of that last move might conclude that .strandberg was seeking to simply find the cheapest place to make its instruments. Ola Strandberg offers a surprising alternative reason: technically minded young Koreans now want to work in hi-tech, not industry, leading to a gradual drain in skills from the shop floors of large OEM guitar makers there, whereas Indonesia has been investing in making quality instruments for the past few years. Quite simply, as Ola Strandberg put it, Indonesia is “where the state-of-the-art exists now and they invest in doing high-capacity, high-quality production in a way that people don’t really try to do any more elsewhere. The more traditional markets are probably more suited now for smaller-volume production.” While that’s just his viewpoint on the matter, it’s further evidence that if you have any dusty preconceptions about where and how quality gear is made in 2021, it may be time to rethink them. Enjoy the issue and see you next time.