Furch the Story
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The creative path of every musician is marked by a quest for a distinctive style, a style that reflects the player’s musical identity. All musicians strive to be unique, extraordinary, and original, and demand the same qualities from the musical instruments they play. The desire to be original was the driving force behind the creation of Furch Guitars.
The Furch Guitars story began a long time before the company was officially established. In the 1970s, Frantisek Furch, a metalworker by day and a musician by night, faced the dilemma of complete unavailability of high-quality musical instruments in the then socialist Czechoslovakia. Because importing an instrument from overseas was too complicated and excessively costly, he resorted to his metalworking skills and used an old drum to make his first banjo. A few years later, Frantisek also made his first acoustic guitar, in the roundback style, with a spruce top plate from an old piano. The response of other musicians to his first guitar was very favorable, and prompted a high number of Frantisek’s friends to commission a guitar from him. Initially, Frantisek made several prototypes of roundback guitars, a type that was very popular and in high demand at that time, generating even more interest in his instruments.
Even though the former communist regime prohibited any private entrepreneurial activity, Frantisek’s passion for musical innovations and high-quality manufacturing on the one hand, and musicians’ demand for custom instruments on the other, proved to be much stronger. In 1981, Frantisek defied the authorities and set up a one-man garage-based manufacture to produce musical instruments bearing the “F” trademark, which has adorned, with some modifications, the headstocks of Furch guitars to this day.
During the 1980s, Frantisek made some 100 instruments, mostly roundback guitars with a composite parabolic body, as well as several mandolins. Frantisek’s work earned him the reputation of a first-rate guitar builder on the Czech music scene, and his instruments became the choice of many top musicians. Despite various restrictions imposed by the former regime, Frantisek was able to sustain his guitar manufacturing business and make it flourish.
A milestone in the history of Furch Guitars came in 1989 when the Velvet Revolution brought the collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia, allowing Frantisek to pursue his visions in an unrestricted manner. In 1990, the guitar making shop was moved from the garage of the Furch family home to a factory workshop of some 20 square meters, and Frantisek hired his first employee.
In the early 1990s, the entire production of Furch Guitars was sold only on the Czech market. The assortment, which continued to rely on roundback guitars, was complemented by a new line of Silueton models through which Frantisek let it be known that his designs would be unique, independent, and in many ways unconventional.
As time went on, the constantly growing demand prompted Furch Guitars to move production to a much larger space, where a 16th century mill complex in the municipality of Velke Nemcice proved to be the optimal solution. In 1992, Furch Guitars first leased a part of the facility and later, in 2000, bought the entire property and relocated its entire manufacturing infrastructure there.
The year 1993 brought the first major restructuring of Furch guitar models. As players’ preferences moved away from the roundback design, Furch Guitars began to cater to the rising demand for all solid woods guitars, offering three basic body shapes – dreadnought, small jumbo, and super jumbo. Likewise, the company’s portfolio was complemented by the Silueton Drive model, an avant-garde stage guitar with a double-cutaway roundback body and a switchable combination of a humbucker and an under-saddle piezo pickup.
In 1998, the line of Furch guitars was further enlarged by the addition of the Blueshand, Rockhand, and Jazzhand models, which featured a non-braced arched back, an element that became one of the focal points in the design and construction of Furch instruments in the following years.
Furch’s fame gradually spread to other countries, as demand began to rise sharply. In response, Frantisek continued to increase production capacity, and by 1999, the company had as many as 25 employees. In the same year, Furch Guitars opened its first brand-name store in Brno and made major changes in the structure of guitar models. Furch Guitars rolled out brand-new lines of guitars for the new century – the Millennium series, which offered a modern, fresh look, and the Vintage series, which elaborated on the traditional design. Both of these model lines have remained the core of Furch’s guitar portfolio until the present. Three years later, Furch Guitars introduced a prototype of the Little Jane child guitar, which was completely redesigned in 2010, and now features a unique collapsible travel body that can be rapidly disassembled and reassembled with no tools, while the instrument stays in tune.
In 2003, Furch Guitars bought the remaining part of the mill in Velké Němčice. The entire complex underwent extensive reconstruction, where the aim was to create appropriate premises and facilities for all present and future production needs. The reconstruction also allowed creating new departments, particularly the Research and Development Division, which was assigned responsibility for devising new design and unique technical solutions. In 2005, the R&D team began research aimed at optimizing the bracing pattern and sound properties of the guitar’s top plate. The effort was crowned by the introduction of a new top plate design, which went into serial production in 2008. Over the years, intensive research work has resulted in several unique technologies that further improved design and sound, allowing Furch guitars to join the ranks of the world’s best musical instruments.
Frantisek’s son Petr Furch joined the management of Furch Guitars in 2006, bringing together traditional manufacturing with his own area of expertise – the programming of state-of-the-art CNC production technologies. Petr has also taken over the management of the Research and Development Division, where he has overseen the development of an innovative composite neck design, a new lightweight bracing pattern that provides higher rigidity, and a unique UV finish application technology that reduces lacquer thickness while increasing hardness to achieve a more brilliant sound.
In the year when it celebrated its 30th anniversary, Furch Guitars had as many as 40 highly specialized core employees. The company once again optimized its portfolio by streamlining and restructuring its lines of guitar models. The structure was preserved until not long ago. In 2018, the flagship line of Millennium instruments has been replaced with seven new color model lines – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet – reflecting the technology development of the company. In addition, Furch Guitars also offers new premium Rainbow Series, which allows the players to choose from as many as 160 features and combine them in any way to create a truly unique instrument.
With more than 60 employees, Furch Guitars is today headed by Petr Furch who continues to lead the company on a path of designing and producing top-class instruments. The company produces some 8,000 top-quality instruments annually which sells on five continents with an extended three-year warranty. As a technology leader in the manufacture of premium-quality guitars and basses, Furch Guitars is committed to the continuous introduction of new designs and construction features, the use of state-of-the-art robotic technologies, and the implementation of the outcome of proprietary research and development with a view to further improving the acoustic qualities of its instruments. The high quality of Furch guitars is best evidenced by references from topnotch musicians, such as Al di Meola, Suzanne Vega, Per Gessle, Glen Hansard, Calum Graham, Zdenek Bina, Frantisek Cerny, and David Koller.