Ola Strandberg is no doubt one of the great innovators of the electric guitar in the last decades. His insanely ergonomic and a bit unusual design of instruments have almost become synonymous with the notion of headless guitars. Strandberg Guitars has not only a wide range of fantastic signature artists (Plini, Alex Machacek and many more), but also a very strong community behind it.
On a personal note: I bought my first Strandberg a couple of months ago (after Alex Machacek talked about its merits in our interview for Hyperlocrian) and haven't put it down since. Well, rarely at least. I know superlatives should be used sparsely, but especially regarding comfort (the patented Endurneck is absolutely brilliant), feel and practicability my Strandberg is the best guitar I've ever played (no disrespect to my other guitars, though).
I met Ola at the Guitar Summit 2022 in Mannheim and spontaneously did a short interview with him. I apologize for the blurry video, my camera fucked up the focus — to make amends, the transcription is also included.
Ola later gave a very interesting talk I took some pictures of.
How important is the community for Strandberg Guitars? You have a very strong community behind you.
Ola Strandberg: It’s been central, really. When these guitars were first first launched — back, when it was a hobby project for me — it was definitely something completely new to the market. And lot of the comments back then were: "Oh, headless doesn't work. That looks ugly et cetera, et cetera." We were fortunate enough to find this upcoming player community that were playing new styles of music, playing extended range guitars. So for them, it was more natural to have a guitar that looked different. So that was really the spark of the company Strandberg, this strong community that shared information with each other. Bands that toured together and borrowed instruments from each other. So it's been absolutely central to us. And we're just fortunate to to have such an engaged community.
I bought a Strandberg a while ago and it’s the best guitar I’ve ever had… a lot of people I know find the design kind of odd though, it’s certainly not everyone’s taste. Do you think the mainstream will become more open towards headless guitars - or doesn’t that really concern you?
I think our our bet is that mainstream will change instead of us having to change what we offer.
I think it's inevitable in a way, as the traditionalists are getting older, there's new generation coming. They want a more compact instrument, they want to instrument that works better in front of a desk rather than rehearsal space, so on and so forth. I think we've were building guitarist for the emerging musician, and they will be the mainstream of the future, I think. But certainly, there's always more we can do and more people we can reach. That's our ambition: to become the new mainstream.
Can you already talk about upcoming guitars?
We don't have any confirmed information yet. But we do have things that we're working on. And last year, we revamped the entire lineup with the NX offering which has some new enhancements in terms of usability and ergonomics, but also visual. So we'll be certainly continuing that journe. We have some innovations that we're working on, which will be unveiled eventually!
More Guitar Summit interviews coming soon.