The Origin of Blueberry Guitars

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During a trip to Bali, Indonesia, one avid Canadian guitarist came up with an idea… work with Balinese carvers to create a guitar with a very unique sound. Here’s his story.

Avid guitarist Danny Fonfeder was so inspired by Balinese woodcarvers, he thought to add some technical knowhow from the West and start making guitars. The result — a workshop called Blueberry.

Fonfeder found master carver Wayan Tuges and master luthier George Morris from Vermont and started producing guitars in a workshop that marries East and West.

Tuges had never even learned to play a guitar before he began carving guitars for Blueberry six years ago.

[Wayan Tuges, Guitar Carver]:
“Originally I’m a wood carver, so it’s not so hard to carve a guitar, the difficulty lies in making the sound. But we’ve got it now.”

Using imported wood from Canada, the guitars are carved with motifs (PRON moh-TEEFS) of birds, dragons, flowers and goddesses, while others have shell like grooves carved over the entire body.

The small workshop can produce about 20 guitars a month, with each guitar taking at 50 to 60 days to create.

Tuges has trained a team of 47 carvers including his son, also named Wayan.

Tuges says the Blueberry products are well known in America.

[Wayan Tuges, Guitar Carver]:
“Most of my creations are sold to Americans, let’s say ninety percent to American guitarists and the rest to Europe and Asia.”

Running his fingers up and down the neck of his two Blueberry guitars is Balawan, a local guitarist.

[Balawan, Local Guitarist]:
“The reason that I use it because it’s very combination between a sound and an art, and craftsmanship. And also like, got a very unique sound.”

Blueberry guitars sell for $1,000 to $6,000 U.S. dollars, depending on the level of design and material used.

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