An Afteroon with Dr. Frankenstein
"I am Seppo O. Valjakka, the sole person behind Dr. Frankinstein Guitar Works – there are no employees, no affiliates, no associates; it has always been this way and will continue to be so in the future."
To listen to, or read, the full interview head to the bottom of the page.
How did you end up with the name Dr. Frankenstein?
It was just logical, like the Shelley Novel, but it’s spelled with an “in” instead of “en.” I didn’t want to use the name exactly since its copyrighted, I chose the "in" simply because it was available, and I own the name now. What Dr. Frankenstein did was he took body parts from anybody and put them together, well that's essentially what I do. I have no problem using parts from companies XYZ and ABC, I put them all together.
I don’t do it much, but I enjoy…
Designing. Designing the guitar, or planning it. I prefer that to actually doing the work. I’ve done it so many times. After you do this job a thousand times ( points at installing frets on the neck of the guitar ), it’s no longer exciting, this becomes a job for me. For me to do the scale-up, and the planning of how I’m going to build it, that’s what I enjoy the most now. I wish I had someone who I could say to “Okay you install the frets, I’m going to lunch I’ll be back in a few hours. But no one else can do this except me, to my standards, unfortunately, they are so high that I don’t trust anyone else.”
If it weren’t too late I would?
I would figure out a way to salvage wood off the beach in the Dominican Republic.
Like a system?
A system. There are millions of dollars worth of wood on the North Coast, and it's just rotting there. The hotel owners hate it, but the government won't let you take it.
Alright! If it didn't sound so crazy I would make a…
That's a tough question because I’m made just about everything.
Every crazy thing you’ve thought of?
It’s getting there. The thing is I remember when I made guitar number 300, back in Canada, I was really worried that I was going to run out of ideas. Here I am at over a thousand instruments worldwide now, and if anything I’ve gotten crazier now than I ever was.
And you still haven’t passed your crazy limit?
What about a 5 neck guitar?
Well this double-neck base , *points at current project* , that's really pushing my energy,
and no one else has ever done it.
I have a dream that…
That I can live long enough to build another few hundred guitars.
One day I’m going to…
Be rich and famous!
Yea!! *laughter* I can’t stand it when…
People micromanage a build. I’ve had clients when I was in Canada more than here because this is relatively isolated, but in Canada, I had people that would come to the house every day for six weeks to see what I was doing. “how come that is there, how come this is here” it drives me crazy. I can’t stand micromanaging.
Yea I think in every job, no one like this. Never underestimate the power of…
Love all, trust….
I guess you gotta learn to love and trust yourself. As an artist, you have to push the bounds. If you’re copying someone else’s stuff you’re never going to make anything. Like my fish guitar there, I know it's cool, but it's like, in 1953 Studebaker made a car that the world hated, no one bought it but right now they’re worth millions. Like with a lot of my art guitars, for instance, I know it's cool, and if I think it's cool, of all the millions of people in this world, somebody else is going to think it's cool too.
I work best when…
When I’m left alone. It goes back to the micromanaging thing.
The happiest I’ve ever been in my life. The second happiest time is when we had our family, that's a different level. But I’m speaking of my personal happiness. For example, when I played in a band in the 1960s, I didn’t smoke or take any alcohol, I was just obsessed with music, it was just music, totally, it was a 24-hour preoccupation, it's all I thought about, I mean my school grades showed that.