About Claas Guitars

Thank you for reading this blog. This is the very first blog post I made on Claas Guitars, its February 2018.
On this blog I will frequently publish texts about Claas Guitars, custom shop guitars in general, luthiery and myself as a person. The goal is on one hand to give you a deep insight on Claas Guitars, like how we make the guitars and basses, updates on the instruments and just to show you, who you are dealing with, whenever you are in contact with us. And on the other hand this blog should also be an informative and educational archive for all themes that are related to guitars and basses. I will give you detailed information on how stringed instruments work, and so I hope this site will become a quoteworthy source for the internet.
I am excited to read your comments and to get in conversation with you.

One last thing: as you propably have noticed, English is not my mother tongue. I honestly apologize for all mistakes I make ( and I am sure there will be a lot of them! ), but I think it will be good enough to be understandable for everybody, so please forgive me, I am still learning.

Thank you very much for reading this introduction, the very first entry is a short history of me and Class Guitars, I hope this to be informative but also entertaining!

Kind regards,
Alexander Claas

Born in 1992 in nothern Germany, I started making music early when I learned playing the trumpet by the age of seven and became really fast quite good at it. I also tried a lot of other instrument, whenever I got the chance. I started playing in a pop cover band in school by the age of ten or eleven. My father started to learn the guitar, when I was twelve and on christmas 2004 (just when Dimebag Darrel has died) I grabbed his guitar and became better in four days, than him in months of playing. And from that time on my life was determined. I stopped playing the trumpet, I did not care about school, all I did was practicing night and day. I listened to AC/DC, Judas Priest, and Motörhead, and soon to Pantera, Sepultura and of course Steve Vai!

Playing the guitar was something that just felt natural to me, I did not understand, why friends were struggeling playing chords, when I felt everything was just so easy. I played in different bands and projects and of course playing the guitar also means buying and selling guitars. I did not had much money, but saving all I had and a little generosity here and there from my family helped that I had a lot of different guitars and basses in my youth. One day, when I was 15 years old, I had the Idea of building my own guitar. It was not a well thought idea, with plans and knowledge about tools. I just had that funny idea, I bought a piece of wood and with the help of my fathers and a router from a fried I started.
The first guitar was a satin black Randy Rhoads style 7-string with one EMG 81-7, which just came out around that time. The guitar of course was not really good, but I had a new passion! All my youth I continued building guitars and basses. My second instrument was an 8-string bass and I had absolutely no Idea what to play with it!

Very Young Alexander Claas with his second instrument ever built. 8-string bass from 2006
Very Young Alexander Claas with his second instrument ever built. 8-string bass from 2006

Now spending all my money and time into tools and building instruments, by the end of my school days I knew that this was the thing I want to do in my life. I graduated from school in 2011 and in 2012 the very first orders for guitars from friends came in.

So in June 2012 I founded Claas Guitars!

First Claas Guitars Logo 2012
First Claas Guitars Logo 2012

When I spent maybe 40% of my youth building guitars and basses, I also spent 40% playing and practicing (another 10% for sleeping, 1% school work and 9% partying and drinking. Thank god that drinking is allowed in Germany by the age of 16).
Becoming really good I played mostly with people, that were 20 years older than myself. Which also increased my playing. My favorite music was everything that challanged me like technical death metal (Necrophagist, Braindrill, Gorod), but also guitar based music like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen.
Around 2010 I started thinking about, what a really good guitar should look like. I went through every part of the electric guitars and ask myself what this part requires. What are the functions of a headstock, what does it need, what does it to the sound, how was it made until then and where are its weaknesses??? After spending months in designing and testing, the very fist Moby Dick was finally alive. Still the building quality was far from perfect, but playability and sound was enormous! ( I still have that guitar, hanging in my office ).
A few things have changed over time, but the general Idea is still the same today.

Very First Moby Dick Guitar by Alexander Claas from 2010 Backside
Very First Moby Dick Guitar by Alexander Claas from 2010 Backside
Very First Moby Dick Guitar by Alexander Claas from 2010 Backside inlay
Very First Moby Dick Guitar by Alexander Claas from 2010 Backside inlay
Very First Moby Dick Guitar by Alexander Claas from 2010 frontside
Very First Moby Dick Guitar by Alexander Claas from 2010 frontside

So, when I founded the company Claas Guitars two years later, I already a had an own guitar design and a clear Idea of what type of instrument I want to make.
In the first two years of Claas Guitars I also took a professional education in woodworking, becoming a furniture maker. This helped me to bring my self taught skills from books, internet and mostly try-and-error to a professional level in working with wood, lacquer and machinery.

Germany is together with Japan world leader in craftsmanship, especially in woodworking. ( I think thats why German and Japanese people are getting so good along with each other ) I do not know why this happens to be, but it is something that goes back a long time in history. When you are raised in Germany high quality craftsmanship is something that is so natural, that it is not something that needs to be hardly explained to everybody. It feels more like a natural understanding how things need to be done and only by traveling to other countries, German people notice that this standards is not equally all over the world.
Please do not understand this wrongly. I really do not want to offend anybody, anywhere! Germany has a lot of other attributes, where we are really behind the rest of the world! And I am oftentimes looking for better places to live in, but when it comes to high quality craftsmanship in building/construction, and woodworking, I am really glad to be born here. ( By the way I am writing this, sitting on a classic chesterfield sofa in Leeds, England, and I love the English old school looks when it comes to furniture and architecture! Really inspiring and I could not think of a better place for writing! ).

My place to stay in Leeds, England 2018 - super nice old building
My place to stay in Leeds, England 2018 – super nice old building

The Moby Dick design is definitely not a product for the masses! It is a really polarizing instrument, which some people love and some people hate. This is totally ok for me, but founding a company with a design like this, no money and being 20 years young is definitely not an easy way to go! I made sales, but I also had to endure a lot of vicious criticism. Especially on the internet, in anonymous forums or on Facebook, people seem to loose any sense of shame and are willing to bully others way below the belt. ( But this is a general problem all around the world)
But everytime I thought of simply building powerstrats blackmachine style etc, I felt that the single cut design is the right way for me! And so it is still today!
Also nowadays I often hear and read that people do not like the guitars, but since the name Claas Guitars started to spread around the world, and I sell a lot more guitars, and people are really happy with my instruments, I am fully confident that this is the right thing to do!

It was a long and hard way to get here, and it is still a long way for me to go! Becoming 26 this summer, I know that I am still very young and I still have a lot of things to learn. But otherwise I am also already five and a half years in business and I already made most the mistakes most smaller luthiers have to deal with. I just came back from the NAMM show two weeks ago and after making my round through the halls I came back to me booth and I was really happy. Because there were a lot of other companies this year also making headless guitars, or fanned frets guitars, but all of them had things which were not completely thought through or the quality was not satisfying.
And I am really proud that in 2018 I can finally deliver the quality standard I was trying to reach for years and the guitars I make are completely sophisticated and after all the years the Moby Dick is still the only guitar, that I want to play myself!

Alexander Claas from Claas Guitars at the NAMM Show 2018
Alexander Claas from Claas Guitars at the NAMM Show 2018

So this is it for the first blog post, that I have ever written. I hope you enjoyed it and you do know and understand me and Claas Guitars a little better. Leave your comment on what topics you like to be covered and feel free to ask me any personal or non-personal question! I am really looking forward to get in touch with you! Thank you very much for reading this,

Alexander Claas

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