Today I received a beautiful new guitar hand built by Vadim Stankevicius from Vilnius, Lithuania (technically he's from Russia, but building out of Lithuania).
A few years ago, while searching for my first gj guitar, I came across an ad on manouche-guitar.com for a luthier I'd never heard of. I was just getting into the style and didn't want to spend much money though and the guitar being advertised just looked absolutely stunning, so I immediately wrote it off as a dream guitar someday. I ended up following him on every social media platform, and as I usually do, started chatting with him occasionally.
In that time, I went from only seeing one of his instruments to essentially watching him build new instruments through his frequent instagram updates. He built one for Irene Ypenburg... then Paulus Schafer... now Stochelo... etc... I knew some day I needed to add one to my collection.
Fast forward to this time last year and after playing gj for a while (though admittedly not all that well), I decided that if he was building for big names, it might not be long until he had a waiting list a mile long... Luckily the last few years had been good to me, so I decided to go for it -- I set a budget in mind and contacted him about working on designing a new guitar. I'd talked to him online a bunch of times prior to this and he was incredibly friendly and kind and excited about the project, so we got to work. I wanted to try an f-hole guitar and I wanted it to be an homage to my wife, given that they're both from Russia, and I felt like calling a guitar "Bradley" would be a disservice to the wood. I have always loved beautiful figured woods, and given that Russians are often associated with bears, I decided I wanted bear claw spruce. Also, considering my wife is blonde, I wanted the color to be in line with that. Otherwise it was up to Vadim.
We went through several mockups from the totally traditional to some seriously wild unconventional designs. The process was amazing and over time we pared down all the various options to a few things I was firm on, and the rest would be up to the "artist".
Once the build kicked off, Vadim was incredibly communicative (something I struggled with majorly with a previous luthier), posting updates almost daily as he built my guitar. In some ways it kind of spoiled the surprise of getting in my hands, but after arriving today, I can say the photos, while incredible, don't do holding it in my hands justice. I highly recommend Vadim and hope to someday own some more of his masterpieces.
The guitar is an f-hole with an Italian bear claw spruce top, flamed maple back and sides, ebony bridge and fingerboard, ebony Schertler tuners, and an artistic sound port. The tailpiece and headstock match woods used elsewhere on the guitar and the leather is cream color to match the aesthetic of the guitar. It's beautiful.
So without further adieu, here the new Stankevicius model Алёна (pronounced Alley-oh-nah):
my own pictures: https://imgur.com/a/QYrD6vw
professional photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/137958563@N03/sets/72157689017078763
a link to the website: https://www.stankeviciusguitars.com/premium
a video of Vadim playing it: