Ulirich Teuffel makes the most desirable guitars in the world. His instruments have an astonishing musical clarity but they are often acquired as pure works of art, as befits a product that takes over a month to make.
Ulrich Teuffel was born in Kitzingen, Germany and started to build guitars at the age of 14. After high school he did a metalwork apprenticeship in German carmakers including Mercedes-Benz. At 30, he enrolled on a four-year industrial design course at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design where he developed an entirely new approach to his work as a guitar maker.
The result has been instruments like ‘Rhodium Birdfish’ a hand-made modular electric guitar featuring a two-piece aluminium body, headless maple neck and sliding pickups that can be swapped in seconds. Ulrich crafts the guitar’s components by hand.
“It was my goal to create an extremely versatile guitar by dividing it into its basic components,”
says Ulrich. “I tried to take the idea of legendary guitar maker Leo Fender’s modular guitar to the next level – I wanted to make the modules easily exchangeable and then supply the player with component options that resonate differently. I was also interested in an ergonomic design because you hold, feel and play the instrument. It had to have a relationship to the player’s body.”
Birdfish owners include Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top or Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist and songwriter of Metallica. Of course, the birdfish’s radical design can polarise guitar aficionados, and Ulrich understands that it might take a leap of faith to feel comfortable owning – and playing – one.
“It’s like when we go out and buy new clothes, but we’re not confident enough to wear them immediately,” he says. “But one day we put them on and they feel just right. The same thing could happen to you with the birdfish. Playing the birdfish on stage is a strong statement.” Rock on.