Ulrich Teuffel – Expert Luthier

Considered by some to be the Rolls-Royce of guitars, Teuffel Guitars stands out from the rest with their avant-gardiste yet oh-so-beautiful style. Designed by expert luthier Ulrich Teuffel in his small German workshop, each guitar series has a unique and distinctive flair and a precise acoustic output.

Coming from an engineering family and background, Ulrich Teuffel started his career as an apprentice in metalwork and construction at Mercedes-Benz. It was during this period that he learned the meaning of the word “exact”, a principle that has followed him throughout his musical career. Ulrich then studied industrial design to further understand the elements behind any great product. With a love of music and musical instruments, Ulrich dedicated his life to create guitars that are truly remarkable millimetre by millimetre.

When we first spotted the guitars, we immediately reached out to Teuffel to know a little more about the man behind the stunning guitars. So read forward to learn more about the brilliant designer.

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish is a reinterpretation of the original Birdfish first introduced at the Frankfurt Music Fair in 1995, what inspired you to bring it back to the drawing board?

The birdfish has become a modern classic after almost 20 years. The modular structure often gives me new perspectives on this instrument. I am sure that the birdfish will be back on the drawing board some more times in the future. I love to see this guitar growing old with me. We have a really good relationship and understand each other very well.

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish by Ulrich Teuffel

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish by Ulrich Teuffel

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish by Ulrich Teuffel

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish was unveiled at the MB&F M.A.D Gallery in Geneva, would you ever consider collaborating with their team to design an horology Masterpiece?

I love and admire Maximilian Buesser’s work and designs but I am afraid that I don’t have knowledge profund enough on horology. If I could catch up I really would like to do so.

Can you give us in a few word the essence of your three iconic guitars, The Tesla, The Birdfish and the Niwa?

Tesla: my less-is-more and intellectual model. It lets you play guitar sounds and sounds of a broken guitar at the same time. If you play this guitar your music will change a bit.

Birdfish: probably the most versatile electric guitar ever. You can interchange and modify all elements which decide about the sound of an electric guitar. Infinite tonal variations…

Niwa: my most ergonomic 3D shaped guitar.

Your guitars are available in limited edition given them a true sense of luxury, do you often get approached by outside investors to create a mass-produced edition? If so, would you ever consider making a guitar that could be enjoyed by the mass at a more affordable price point?

The mass market is very much focussed on what we call vintage guitars: the guitars from 1950-1970 in 1:1, or better in 1,0000 : 1,0000. To make designs for this marked is a bit below of what designing means to me. The contemporary guitars a copy/paste of 1950-70. I didn’t have an approach from an outside investore; rather more from guitar companies. But I like the idea of an mass produced guitar at an affordable price point because this refects the DNA of the electric guitar.

If a musician was looking for a truly unique one-of-a-kind Teuffel guitar, what could he expect in your approach? Would you let him participate in the creativity process?

I made some one-of-a kind versions on my models but I never designed a one-of-a-kind singular guitar. I am designing guitars only that fit into my model family. The ideas of my clients always took influence in my work but at the end I have to decide what goes well with my Œuvre.

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish by Ulrich Teuffel

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish by Ulrich Teuffel

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish by Ulrich Teuffel

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish by Ulrich Teuffel

From the dozens of guitars you have designed over the years, which one represents you the best?

I haven’t designed dozens of models but I have built dozens of guitars. The devolopment of a new model takes me a few years until it is perfect to offer it in a small series.

But back to your question: the guitar which represents me the best is the birdfish model without any doubt.

How many guitars do you have in your personal collection? and which one are you drawn to play the most.

I have about 20 guitars in my personal collection. The selection is very personal and it doesn’t follow the common asset approach. Most of the guitars are personally made for me by friend luthiers. And I also have guitars which I got from players such as Sugizo, Page Hamilton or David Torn.

The guitar I play most is a prototype of a “swatch” guitar I developed for Fender.

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish by Ulrich Teuffel

If you could get your guitar in the hands of one young musician, who would it be and why?

James Blake. He is not a guitarist. But I think that my guitars and his music are a good match.

So what’s next for you? Any hints of what’s to come?

At the moment I am getting my new model “antonio” into the serial status. There will be an (acoustic) steel string guitar to come when I will be older. This is how I started and this is where I once will go back.

Since we are trying to redefine luxury, what is your personal definition of the word luxury?

Time.

The Rhodium Prodigy Birdfish by Ulrich Teuffel

Maxine Genier

Maxine Genier

Maxine is an adept of design, photography and online marketing. She lives in Gothenburg, Sweden with her husband and two beautiful daughters. She spends her leisure time exploring Europe with her family to perfect her skills as a travel photographer. She can be found in her spare time, strumming her guitar.
Maxine Genier