Odra Guitars on http://www.wroclaw.pl
The guitars were made with timber extracted from trees growing by the Odra River. They were designed by Michał Zygmunt and made by the violin-maker Mirek Fejcho. These three unique Odra guitars demonstrate that craftsmen in Lower Silesia know their jobs inside out.
„I was born by the Odra, I live by the Odra, and I am really attached to this river,” says Michał Zygmunt. „I have even recorded a CD with the sounds you can hear by the river: the water humming and the birds singing, but I haven’t managed to release it. I am in love with this river. I wasn’t so much after wildlife, I wanted to show the virtues of the region. Our local instruments are just as good as those manufactured abroad,” he remarks.
Odra, Karina and Kania
Michał Zygmunt has designed three unique guitars: Karina, Odra and Kania. „As a musician, I used to work closely with various instrument manufacturers. I played their instruments and tested them,” he says. „I realised it would be worth designing a local instrument, especially as Lower Silesia has a long tradition of instrument manufacturing. We used to produce guitars in Lubin and pianos in Legnica,” he reminisces. He came up with the idea to create instruments with timber extracted from trees growing by the Odra River. He was encouraged by Mirek Fejcho, an excellent violin-maker from Oleśnica. You simply cannot buy such guitars on a high street.
„We were not going to the river to choose which trees to fell,” adds the musician laughingly. „We had a closer look at the trees growing by the Odra. These include linden and walnut trees.” The violin-maker ordered suitable timber with a licence to prove it comes from the Odra area. They also used their finds, a walnut plank and a cigar case washed up by the river, to create the smallest of their guitars. They called it Kania to honour the red kite, a bird of prey that inhabits the Odra River valley.
„Kania is a four-string guitar. You can learn how to play this guitar in just two months, and it resembles the ukulele, an instrument made by the poor in the US,” explains the musician. „You can make it on your own. I would be happy if children used it, at music centres, for example. This little guitar may be mass produced.”
The two other guitars, Odra and Karina, were also made by hand, which means they re unique and differ from mass produced instruments. Odra is a live performance guitar for professional musicians who specialise in rock and blues. You can recognise it by the image of a pike on its body. The guitar has a lime sounding board, carved in a few places, and a neck made of flame maple. „The wood we used gives it a powerful vintage sound,” says Michał Zygmunt.
Karina is a resophonic electric guitar. It has been fitted with a tin box whose vibrations modify the sound of the instrument. Karina’s sounding board was made of spruce and was later covered with elm. Its neck was made of sycamore and the fingerboard of ash. The guitar is ornamented with butterfly and rose images. „These decorative motifs come from Dziewino, a small village near Ścinawa, where the ruins of the largest Renaissance castle in Lower Silesia are located,” explains the musician.
The sound of Odra Guitars
You can order the guitars from the violin-maker. „I don’t want them to be mass produced. They would lose their unique quality,” emphasises Michał Zygmunt. They usually attract interest from amateur guitarists and professional musicians. „They send me inquiries, and from time to time I organise shows to share the sound of these guitars.”