10 Questions We Ask Everyone

Rapolas Gražys (Lithuania)

We are in Frankfurt, walking through the MusikMesse, pavilion #4: a sound calls our attention. Oriental notes fill the air of a pavilion full of distortion, electricity and ‘heavy’ oxygen. It's like a time warp. We are in the guitar makers’ area, the territory of who makes guitars with their hands, centimeter by centimeter. We are in the most creative place of the fair, where forms are invented, technology is experimented and sounds are investigated. Rapolas Gražys, Lithuanian artisan, presents Lava-Drops, his fretless guitars brand. Its shape, sound and playability are amazing. We hope to see soon Rapolas’ new creations, with fretted necks, this time. Hopefully the wait will be worth.    


1. GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up becoming, or start out as, a luthier?
Rapolas Gražys: I have been playing guitar for more than 14 years. All my life is connected with music and design. I do not think I can say that I am a true luthier. After graduating and working in a lot of projects with industrial design, I finally connected the music and design in one. My main profession is industrial design; music always has always been the biggest part of my life. Now all my works are related with musical industry…    

2. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What inspires you to design and manufacture a new guitar?

Rapolas Gražys: I got inspiration from classical instruments like cello, violin, contrabass and Eastern instruments: the main detail of which is a fretless neck. With a fretless neck you can provide shade sounds, such as microtones. This demands a “skilled hand” while playing, but for a musician it gives wider opportunities. Vibrating notes with a fretless neck, as opposed to a guitar with frets, make sound unique and is reminiscent of sounds of ethnic music: the keystone of the music I create and what this project is. In regards to visual aspect, the fretless neck does not take away from aesthetic form with its vertical sections and the form remains pure. After creating the fretless instrument I saw that the possibilities of the instrument is wider than I had thought before. The instrument could be used in many situations, and various styles of music, from jazz to rock, to fusion to experimental music.    

3. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Do you look for a given sound for any particular reason?

Rapolas Gražys: Currently I am looking for a sound that suits the needs for fretless guitars. Since my design is not classic guitar design, I need new ways how to find the particular sound from this unusual body of the guitar. However at the same time, I am also creating a model with frets. So I think the main point of the guitar sound is its versatility. So that the guitar could be used in a variety of situations.  

4. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Select one and talk about: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop…or other.

Rapolas Gražys: I think I am a guy who cannot be described with only one style of music. I like to combine all genres and styles and sounds in one. I like to experiment and not stick to one in particular. Maybe jazz could be the word: not for the musical style but for the emotion – the improvisation. I was born in Lithuania. We have a big tradition regarding to ethno music. So improvisation, ethno and then combining it with fusion or rock music could create something new.        

5. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Are you a jobbing artist or a solitary artisan?
Rapolas Gražys: Jobbing artist. Always trying to find new ways and work in different design spheres.    

6. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What was the last record or CD you bought? And listened to?

Rapolas Gražys: The last CD that I bought was a new album of Lithuanian Bass player Domas Aleksa and his album ,,Time twister’’. You must listen to it. Something new in musical sphere.    

...ONE BODY...

7. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Electric or acoustic?

Rapolas Gražys: At the moment electric made from one piece of wood. To get a better sustain and have more ergonomic feeling for the player. But for my personal view also I like to play acoustic music a lot.  

...ONE NECK...

8. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What is the secret behind your choice of wood?

Rapolas Gražys: The secret is that I pick the best quality of wood. Every piece I look with care and attention. For my design not every piece is suitable to make the instrument. I have my own technology that makes instrument more long-lasting.    


9. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Why should we consider luthier-crafted guitars as a viable option to guitars made by the large manufacturers?

Rapolas Gražys: Quality, trust and unique design. I think luthier crafted instruments is being cared more. And the feel that one instrument is being made not by 10 or more people but from one or two, it has something mystic.  

10. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to have play your guitars?

Rapolas Gražys: There are couple guitarists from Lithuania, like Alex Ten, Lukas Eiliakas, Robertas SemeniukasRobin Aristorenas is from UK. I think couple of musicians them could be Ergan Ogur, Greg Howe, Andy Timmons and etc. would be the musicians, that instrument could suit to music which they create.    

Official Lava Drop Website: