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A visit to a Vietnamese Guitar factory

Etienne Rambert

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@Marc: why dont u take one urself haha. I dont think the roundabout at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai is as bad as the intersection in the video. I absolutely hate that corner.


@zenbu: cheers :)) 2 days passed already haha.


We need some more soundclips :( And Mr Binh needs a website :D.

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@Marc: why dont u take one urself haha. I dont think the roundabout at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai is as bad as the intersection in the video. I absolutely hate that corner.

@zenbu: cheers
) 2 days passed already haha.

We need some more soundclips
And Mr Binh needs a website


Help him out with it. I just don't have time these days. My day job keeps

me busy. I've told him for years he needs a website.


Sean-Patrick: Very interesting stuff. I'm now contemplating the archtop with the oval hole and big body. Lots of volume sounds great(I frequently jam with a cellist and that forces me into using electric invariably)


He & his brother invented these things after playing my Guild F-65ce.

I call them hybrids, because they're arch tops with float-top volume.


Side views of F-65ce compared with hybrid




Hybrids side-to-side.




Floating bridge & Ebony tailpiece.




Soundhole and ending of fingerboard.










He decided he wanted to build something like the F-65ce- but different.

He made it deeper for more volume. He couldn't quite match the dreamy F-65ce neck.

But what he came up with is pretty amazing. And he's sold several too.

I'm really proud of I was a part of that process.


I've played both the arch-top hybrids you see in this posts. They are as loud as flat-tops.

And yet...they have that clear, punchy arch top sound. They're astonishing guitars.

Maple laminate back & sides (like the F-65ce), no internal bracing (like the F-65ce and a Spruce top.

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On an arch top, the pick guard needs to be elevated so you can run the wires under it.

That raises a practical question on these hybrids. The fancy-carved fingerboard over the sound hole

is beautiful. But how do you attach a floating pick-up to it?


I'd spec it to have a normal neck ending like my arch top. I definitely would not want only a UST pick up.

I'd want both a floating pick up and a UST. That way you could go arch top or flat-top - depending on

the occasion.

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Loll@ how in the hell can those people do that and not wreck and we wreck all the time with our intricate traffic systems?


They do get into wrecks, and they can be pretty gory. Traffic accidents are often followed by a lot of angry yelling, and sometimes even fights. :eek:


People mostly ignore lanes in Vietnam, and just drive more or less on the proper side of the road, and they expect chaos so they react casually to it. It also helps that motorbikes are infinitely more maneuverable than cars, so handling one is more natural - more like walking than operating a machine. Traffic is also much slower, so there's more time to respond. There are 4 wheel vehicles, but 95% or more are taxis. I'm much less impressed by the lack of two wheel accidents than I am by the fact that the taxis can get through that river of humans without slaughtering people en masse. My first ride in a taxi from Tan Son Nhat airport at "rush hour" was so frightening that I had to stop looking through the windshield, and just watch the shops go by through the side window.


What is far more frightening is walking through that mass of steel and flesh while they're in motion. You can't wait for a break in the traffic - you'll be standing there until 3am. The key is pick a good time to start across, and then proceed at a steady pace until you get across. The drivers will time their maneuvers according to your pace, and easily dodge you, but if you hesitate or stop - you're dead! :facepalm:

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This video will say it all




How about PoV ?




This is Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street. Going toward Nguyen Thien Thuat(Guitar street). At 3:09 on the right side u will see a bike joins the traffic. That street is guitar street.


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At 3:20 to the end - you see the traffic circle at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai.

I have to walk across that to get to guitar street. I think that circle is the

dividing line between District 5 (Cholon) & District 3.


If I don't cross there, I have to walk through a crowded street market

several blocks long and cross at an intersection that is just as crazy - a block north.


I stay in Cholon.

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I think that roundabout (traffic circle) is the intersection point of District 1, 3 and 5. It's scary if ur walking, but if ur on a bike its better. Anyway Marc please take some more photos of Mr Binh's guitar and shop (may be his store as well), they are really interesting. :thu: . Cholon is pretty far away... (Ch? L?n market?). May be u just live in District 5, close to guitar street.

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It's not the Cholon market. But it's huge. It starts right behind my house.

It goes on for several blocks. Nobody goes there except locals.


I live near the Equatorial Hotel off Hung Vuong street.

NTMK turns into Hung Vuong once you cross that traffic circle.

It's only 4 or 5 blocks from my house to guitar street.


I walked by his shop today & said hello. As usual, he was sitting on the floor,

wearing his trademark white undershirt, working on a guitar.

He has a new hybrid. I didn't see any other new guitars though.


I told him he's world famous now. He ought to put "Mr. Binh" on his head stocks.

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lol not too far then. i'd prefer his brand on the headstock rather than "Mr Binh" :thu:


That helmet law screws up my spiky hair whenever i go out clubbing -.-" !!! And for some reasons i never use the horn on my bike haha. Prolly got used to driving in Australia.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Hows everyone going ? Have you bought any more guitar, Marc?

Im still waiting for some more sound clips =( please post em':cop:


Hi. I haven't bought any new guitars from Mr. Binh lately. But I did stop in and see

him a few days ago. I think he's doing reasonably well in the down economy.

I hope so. He deserves it. But otherwise, luthier street looks pretty dead.


I did buy a blue Guild F-65ce in Houston a couple of weeks ago. I think I'll

have Mr. Binh set up the action.


I didn't see any new guitars that really amazed me when I was there a few

days ago. He usually lets me know when he's got a hot one. And now & then,

his little factory does produce some amazing guitars.


I've posted some sound clips from the Grey Goose & his arch top in this thread. Most folks agree -- they have great tone.


In fact, the arch top he built for me kills the vast majority of others I've heard. I'll be pleased and proud to match it against any others out there at even 10X the price.


There was one really sweet little classical he had there that caught my eye.

I forget what it was made of. But it sure was beautiful.


If I were buying acoustics, I'd either spec Binh with the design details, or I'd

buy one of those arch top hybrids he modeled after my F65ce. Those are some

incredible-sounding guitars. Floating bridge, oval soundhole & big, big sound.




1. Binh for arch tops. His arch tops kill any other in the price range.

2. For the daring, his oval holed arch top that he designed off my Guild F65ce.

3. Spec him a guitar. Even after shipping, it will a lot cheaper than you'll ever gt

the same thing for in the States.

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Hi Marc, i've listen to the Grey goose and arch top before. They are amazing :D But the clips are quite short =( I want a long and complete one. I wanna hear amp_surgeon's one as well :D :poke::poke:


How's your archtop Binh made for you? Is it an electric archtop ?


I wonder if he does electric guitars :D:bor::evil::evil::evil:

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He makes hollow-body electrics. I don't know about solid body.

Maybe he does. I don't know.


My arch top was the first one they ever built. I had him do a lot of

work on it after it was built. I'm the most demanding customer he

has, I think.


Acoustically, it kills every arch top I've ever heard.

It's got flat-top volume. But it has that sweet natural reverb too.


I started buying guitars over here because I couldn't find a decent

synthesizier for sale.


Now, I have too damned many guitars. How much is it going to cost to ship all these home? Mon Dieu!

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DW i will be the next most demanding customer , after you :)) I'm quite fussy. I think he should make solid body. And sell them all on ebay. :D


I wish i was a blues/jazz head, or i'd buy those from him as well. Hope he can improve the neck on the electrics, to be as fast as Ibanez or Jackson. :p

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Im new here so its my first reply.

Thanks for a great thread, lots of information.


I have a question for you Marcellis and I would really appreciate if you could help me out with this.


I'm living in Phnom Penh Cambodia, but is visiting Saigon quite often though my wife is Vietnamese.

I have been living here for 6 years but never brought my favorite guitars from Europe over, for a lot of reasons actually.


Now, i've been thinking about having one of these Vietnamese guitar makers to make copies of two guitars.

Could that be possible?

For one guitar (Gibson L-00, 1940) i got an excellent blueprint, but for the Martin 00-42/12, 1927 I only got the dimensions.

What do you think?

Is it worth a try?


Jonas "Little Duke" Hasting.

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very interesting thread. those folks over there are very resourceful and don't waste anything. at least that was my observation when i was stationed in My Tho in 1968-69. is that shop anywhere near there? i believe My Tho was about 40 miles southwest of Saigon. the pics brought back lots of memories of my tour of duty in sunny southeast asia. thanks! tony

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