THANH MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS on 61 Nguyen Thien Thuat St delivers fine hand made guitars

 http://www.thanhvietnam.com/

Thanh now has a new shop located at 17 Nguyen Thien Thuat St

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My Third Trip to Saigon in Search of Some Decent Handmade Acoustics.

Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, the place where the kings of all Vietnamese luthiers hustle. It’s always bustling, with the sounds of guitar strings hopelessly whistling over the traffic noise. I was there to buy a decent guitar and I finally found a bunch of great guitars. Thanh Musical Instruments has some of the best selection of guitars in terms of price, quality, sound and service.

Amazing shop with incredible people, and excellent range of quality handmade guitars.

Last time I was there I bought a mahogany all round acoustic guitar from one of the shops, which I only later discovered how bad the guitar was when I brought it back home. The quality was just not there, the neck was bent with the strings grinding against the cheap fretboard, there were wood chips inside and outside with dry glue leaking onto the wood, there were all sorts of problems. There were some shops where the guitars looked incredible, but the sound was flat and blunt. Don’t get me wrong the guitar sounds nice, but the bad finishing was noticeable.

Honest guy, incredible luthier, great heart.

Honest guy, incredible luthier, great heart.

If you go to Saigon, you got to stop by Thanh’s shop at 61 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street in District 3. I was lucky enough to meet Thanh, the owner and guitar luthier of that shop. He usually is quite busy working behind the scenes, and rarely sits in his own shop. My god is he an incredible guy with a great sense of awareness to customers. Thanh doesn’t speak English, but his wife does. Thanh says his been a guitar luthier for 30 years, and started off selling guitars without making much profit. He only started becoming famous because he focused on quality and was honest to his customers. Thanh makes his guitars at his own workshops, and is not a reseller like most shops there.

Gracious Thanh with his new workers

Gracious Thanh standing with his new workers

I have been told they all worked for Thanh when they were young, hand making musical instruments from start to finish. Thanh recruits young workers from Mekong and trains them in hand making musical instruments from start to finish. Thanh was raised in Mekong by his grand parents and understands the poverty there. Thanh is passionate in teaching his skills to his workers and often gives job opportunities to these young workers.

Suspended from the ceiling, beautiful selection.

Thanh’s Musical Instruments has great selections of guitars from ukuleles to slim light guitars to acoustic jumbos to zithers. I find his guitars best in quality, finishing, and sound.  His got a bunch of young workers working in his shop, and workshops.

I bought this guitar from Thanh, man the abalone dragon inlay work is incredible. It would have taken a while for Thanh to hand make this guitar, the detailing and colouring is breath taking. Very well finish, and produces great crisp sound while still maintaining low end range tones.

I bought a custom made Texas style jumbo acoustic guitar for a bargain considering the detail abalone inlay work done to it. The wood Thanh used were AAA Canadian Spruce with Indian Rosewood Back and Sides. It’s just incredible, the sound is so crisp and clear and the echoing of the bass is amazing. It’s easy to play with the strings being soft and the action nice and low. I was very impressed; the end product was incredible and the guitar was easily undervalued. He only had one so I snatched that up quick.

Thanh Musical Instruments by far has the best value for money guitars, quality, and service. The owners of other guitar shops nearby are very relentless, I find the whole Nguyen Thien Thuat street ruthless, after all it’s a hustler’s paradise. The vibe you get there is negative, if you have money than your welcome, if you don’t then don’t bother trying out a guitar because they won’t like you.  The shop owners are not friendly unless you have money. Thanh has price tags for all his guitars so the prices are the same for locals and foreigners.  Being a foreigner, this comes as a great benefit.

These hard working lads are down to earth, really helpful. And they know their stuff.

Thanh pictured in Jetstar Asia in flight magazine

Thanh pictured in Jetstar Asia in flight magazine

After coming back to visit his store the next day and buying three guitars from Thanh, I found out from his workers that Thanh is a very famous guitar luthier in Vietnam. He is often in newspapers, and has featured on an interview on the very popular channel HTV 7. I found a clip of him here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7sJAIeuDd8. Thanh has also appeared on Jetstar Asia in flight magazine.

Dried Tonewoods stored in the workshop for a few years. Thanh does this to preserve the wood’s dryness before hand making his guitars. Complete dryness of wood means the guitar will withstand any type of climate. Thanh has wood from all over the world including Canada, Switzerland, USA, and Germany.

Thanh is very passionate, and always makes sure his guitars have zero faults before selling them to customers. Thanh used to be a singer before he started making guitars so I have been told. That’s probably why he can distinguish different tones in various woods.  I visited his workshop in district 8 and met some of his workers. His workers are very warm and welcoming, I spoke to some and they say Thanh is their father, their teacher and a good boss. He shares everything with them and provides accommodation and other needs.

Just look at the range of guitars, best quality i’ve seen. Some guitars play like the Martin 000. No joke, Incredible.

If you are travelling to Vietnam and looking for some authentic acoustic guitars handmade with great detail and quality, check out Thanh Musical Intruments at 61 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street District 3. Thanh and his workers are very friendly and helpful. His wife is very bubbly and speaks good English. I am currently ordering two more custom acoustic guitars from him. Here’s one of my guitars I ordered with the eagle on the back.

My Custom Eagle Abalone guitar almost finish just needs the gloss. There ain’t many people in the world who can create a piece of art like this. Beautiful.

thanh_musicalinstruments@yahoo.com, you can order acoustic guitars from him or customize your own design.  I’ll be going back there at the end of the year; I’ll make another blog then.

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7 thoughts on “THANH MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS on 61 Nguyen Thien Thuat St delivers fine hand made guitars

  1. Wow, there’s some nice guitars there, especially the one picture right at the bottom with the eagle abalone inlay design on the back, that looks very pretty man!

      • Nice looking piece but the sound will probably disappoint. Thanh does make good guitars but does an overkill on his inlay sometimes. All the inlay works on the back soundboard muffles the tonal vibration & projection. It’s best to leave the top & back clean to get max tones out of the fine tone woods that he uses.

  2. I just visited guitar street today and hit all the shops, but was focused on Bihn and thanh. I played everything in the higher end at both shops and although Thanh wasn’t around I was able to call him and discuss some of the guitars I was interested in. I played the one with the eagle inlay…pretty but sound was inferior. I ended up with a nice cutaway that RINGS! It sounds amazing. I have 15-20 guitars in my acoustic collection….38 Martins, 40s Gibsons, my own guitars I’ve built and this one sounds great. I’ll reply after getting it back to the dryer USA climate and report on how it holds up.

    • Spoke to Thanh??? Unless you are Viet Kieu, Thanh don’t speak a word of English. But one thing is right though, Thanh does make some fine sounding guitars. I wouldn’t waste my time at Binh’s. he’s overrated because of some of his post here. Good finishing on his pieces but disappoints in the sound dept & grossly over priced compared to Thanh & some other shops.

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