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  1. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzpunk
    Several players in Los Angeles play Borys instruments. Each one I have seen looked and sounded excellent.

    I was told by one guy that he could put me in touch with Roger if I wanted one so I'm assuming that means he is still building guitars.

    He still is, he went through a bad divorce a few years ago (are there any good ones?) and moved out of Vermont after a zillion years there. He's now in Hoboken, N.J. across the river from Manhattan N.Y. and building better than ever. Another thing, his prices never went crazy like some of these guys...



    Cheers,
    Arnie..

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #27

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    Another great American luthier and great player not on the list is Jimmy Foster from Louisiana (now deceased) who passed away not long ago. His guitars were built superbly and had incredible attention to detail, but the tone was the best! Rest in Peace my Friend.....

    Archtop Guitars & Jazz Guitars : Custom Built 6- & 7-String Guitars (New Orleans) | FosterGuitars.com





    Cheers,
    Arnie...

  4. #28

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    Arnie,

    What should a talented individual charge for a handmade archtop when they make a limited number of instruments a year and it not be considered "crazy"?

    I personally don't begrudge them for charging what they charge. Even if they work 2000 hours a year, it likely takes 160-200 hours to craft an archtop for an experience fixtured luthier. When you subtract materials, equipment and other operating costs, I suspect they do not make a great living. Honestly, on a $10,000 archtop, after the costs are subtracted, the hourly rate doesn't come out to much. I don't think you could have a concert violin bow made for $10,000 today.

    I am glad to hear that Roger is doing well. It sounds like he is busier than most luthiers that I spoke with who only had a 7-15 month backlog. A few were so busy that they had stopped taking orders though. How would someone know about him or get in touch with him without any public presence? World of mouth I suppose.

    Bob


    Quote Originally Posted by arnie65
    He still is, he went through a bad divorce a few years ago (are there any good ones?) and moved out of Vermont after a zillion years there. He's now in Hoboken, N.J. across the river from Manhattan N.Y. and building better than ever. Another thing, his prices never went crazy like some of these guys...



    Cheers,
    Arnie..

  5. #29

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    D'Aquisto
    Foster
    Hollenbeck
    Zeidler


    Quote Originally Posted by arnie65
    Another great American luthier and great player not on the list is Jimmy Foster from Louisiana (now deceased) who passed away not long ago. His guitars were built superbly and had incredible attention to detail, but the tone was the best! Rest in Peace my Friend.....

    Archtop Guitars & Jazz Guitars : Custom Built 6- & 7-String Guitars (New Orleans) | FosterGuitars.com





    Cheers,
    Arnie...

  6. #30
    would you have the name of one in san antonio,tx (flattop)

  7. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7
    Arnie,

    What should a talented individual charge for a handmade archtop when they make a limited number of instruments a year and it not be considered "crazy"?

    I personally don't begrudge them for charging what they charge. Even if they work 2000 hours a year, it likely takes 160-200 hours to craft an archtop for an experience fixtured luthier. When you subtract materials, equipment and other operating costs, I suspect they do not make a great living. Honestly, on a $10,000 archtop, after the costs are subtracted, the hourly rate doesn't come out to much. I don't think you could have a concert violin bow made for $10,000 today.


    I am glad to hear that Roger is doing well. It sounds like he is busier than most luthiers that I spoke with who only had a 7-15 month backlog. A few were so busy that they had stopped taking orders though. How would someone know about him or get in touch with him without any public presence? World of mouth I suppose.

    Bob
    Actually materials are not the big cost, no matter what wood you use or what hardware you put on the instrument, and equipment pays for itself after a couple of years, and a lot of luthiers work out of their garage or shop at home (I know at least 5 who do so) the biggest factor as you mentioned is the hours spent on making the instrument, no question about it. You threw a figure of $10,000 dollars, and I'm glad you did, that's exactly what I was referring to when I talked about Roger. Most of his guitars have remain under $10,000, even the 17 inch archtops. When I mentioned this, it wasn't meant as begrudging or criticism on other luthiers, it was meant as a compliment to Roger! A lot of luthiers have to charge double what Roger charges because they have to pay all the employees they have working for them, Roger works alone. He's the receptionist, the shipping guy, the accountant, and the builder. It was a compliment to Roger and not criticism on other luthiers. In addition, Roger's prices went up gradually through the years, not like many luthiers who were selling a model for (example) at $5,000 and a year later after gaining some notoriety, or some well known endorsees, they jack up the price of the instrument to $8,000 or $9,000. Luthiers can charge whatever they think their work is worth, I'm not against that, but as a customer, I also have the right to choose with whom I spend my hard earned cash, compare the options, and buy from the luthier I deem worthy of my money. (all things considered) I admire everyone's work, not everyone's ethics.



    Cheers,
    Arnie...

  8. #32

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    Arnie,

    Many of these guys listed are individual operators with no employees. Some have assistants and some have commercial shop space as well. Only a few are companies with staff etc. Regarding price, We just disagree. I don't think that they "jack" up prices.

    Today, an instrument like my Heritage Sweet 16, made by a small 20+ person US based company with overheads retails at street price discount of ~$5,300. A Gibson L-5 Wes Montgomery has a street price of about ~$7,800.

    How much should a luthier charge for a handmade instrument? Many of these guys will make you an instrument for prices comparable to what I listed above. They can only make 15-25 instruments a year.

    Anderson = $5,600 - $18,000
    Unger = $4,400 - $16,000
    Benedetto = $9,000 - $30,000
    Buscarino = $9,000 - $24,000
    Campellone = $4,450 - $12,500
    Comins = $8,500 - $12,500
    Grimes = $6,200 - $22,000
    Lacey = $10,000 - $20,000
    Mapson = $5,550-$18,500
    Marchione = ?
    Megas = $6,075 - $9.300
    Moll = $5,500 - $15,000
    Monteleone = ? (likely expensive)
    Mortoro = $5,300 - $18,000
    Nickerson = $5,000 - $8,000
    Ribbecke = $25,000
    Schaefer = $7,260-$10,230
    Triggs = ? (I suspect more affordable)
    Walker = ? (not taking orders currently)
    Zimnicki = ?

    What does Roger charge for Archtops these days? What is his range of prices? You are implying that it is much less. Since he is "underground", we have no visibility.

    Thanks,

    Bob

    Quote Originally Posted by arnie65
    Actually materials are not the big cost, no matter what wood you use or what hardware you put on the instrument, and equipment pays for itself after a couple of years, and a lot of luthiers work out of their garage or shop at home (I know at least 5 who do so) the biggest factor as you mentioned is the hours spent on making the instrument, no question about it. You threw a figure of $10,000 dollars, and I'm glad you did, that's exactly what I was referring to when I talked about Roger. Most of his guitars have remain under $10,000, even the 17 inch archtops. When I mentioned this, it wasn't meant as begrudging or criticism on other luthiers, it was meant as a compliment to Roger! A lot of luthiers have to charge double what Roger charges because they have to pay all the employees they have working for them, Roger works alone. He's the receptionist, the shipping guy, the accountant, and the builder. It was a compliment to Roger and not criticism on other luthiers. In addition, Roger's prices went up gradually through the years, not like many luthiers who were selling a model for (example) at $5,000 and a year later after gaining some notoriety, or some well known endorsees, they jack up the price of the instrument to $8,000 or $9,000. Luthiers can charge whatever they think their work is worth, I'm not against that, but as a customer, I also have the right to choose with whom I spend my hard earned cash, compare the options, and buy from the luthier I deem worthy of my money. (all things considered) I admire everyone's work, not everyone's ethics.



    Cheers,
    Arnie...

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7
    Arnie,

    How much should a luthier charge for a handmade instrument? Many of these guys will make you an instrument for prices comparable to what I listed above. They can only make 15-25 instruments a year.

    Triggs = ? (I suspect more affordable)
    As For Jim Triggs, his prices are variable, depending on the kind of wood wanted, grade of ornamentation etc. At his web site he states that his prices start at $3500. Due to this variation, I'd rather not mention what I paid, but it's easy to mail him and ask him to quote a price for a guitar with your specs of choice.

    I had a Master 400 (Stromberg copy) made by him i 2010, and the price I paid directly to Jim was a good deal lower than what George Gruhn charges for Triggs D'Angelico and Stromberg copies. The reasonable price may have something to do with me not insisting on grade AAAAAA++++++ woods on this sunburst guitar (which doesn't mean a better sounding instrument, just nicer looks) - though it eventually ended up with very beautifully figured maple. But it may also have something to do with Gruhns need to make a profit, and that he may also charge for the benefit of delivering the instrument to the customer without a waiting time (when I ordered my Triggs guitar I waited a little over ½ year).

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7
    Arnie,

    Many of these guys listed are individual operators with no employees. Some have assistants and some have commercial shop space as well. Only a few are companies with staff etc. Regarding price, We just disagree. I don't think that they "jack" up prices.

    Today, an instrument like my Heritage Sweet 16, made by a small 20+ person US based company with overheads retails at street price discount of ~$5,300. A Gibson L-5 Wes Montgomery has a street price of about ~$7,800.

    How much should a luthier charge for a handmade instrument? Many of these guys will make you an instrument for prices comparable to what I listed above. They can only make 15-25 instruments a year.

    Anderson = $5,600 - $18,000
    Unger = $4,400 - $16,000
    Benedetto = $9,000 - $30,000
    Buscarino = $9,000 - $24,000
    Campellone = $4,450 - $12,500
    Comins = $8,500 - $12,500
    Grimes = $6,200 - $22,000
    Lacey = $10,000 - $20,000
    Mapson = $5,550-$18,500
    Marchione = ?
    Megas = $6,075 - $9.300
    Moll = $5,500 - $15,000
    Monteleone = ? (likely expensive)
    Mortoro = $5,300 - $18,000
    Nickerson = $5,000 - $8,000
    Ribbecke = $25,000
    Schaefer = $7,260-$10,230
    Triggs = ? (I suspect more affordable)
    Walker = ? (not taking orders currently)
    Zimnicki = ?

    What does Roger charge for Archtops these days? What is his range of prices? You are implying that it is much less. Since he is "underground", we have no visibility.

    Thanks,

    Bob

    I think Roger's guitars start around $4,900 or so, but his models are not as ornate as many of the luthiers in the list. Your statements are correct, and my statements were not to suggest a generalization, as I said before; luthiers can charge whatever they think their work is worth, and they do. Nothing wrong with that. The aforementioned was just my opinion based on what I know, and can be taken as just an opinion.


    Cheers,
    Arnie..
    Last edited by arnie65; 03-19-2012 at 07:46 AM.

  11. #35

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    Arnie, Thanks, it sounds like Roger is charging similarly to a few other luthiers that I listed. It's shame that these skilled artisans at the peak of their careers are only making somewhere between $25-$50 an hour for their craft. I think you pay more for many other services in your life that don't require a tenth of the skill and dedication.
    Quote Originally Posted by arnie65
    I think Roger's guitars start around $4,900 or so, but his models are not as ornate as many of the luthiers in the list. Your statements are correct, and my statements were not to suggest a generalization, as I said before; luthiers can charge whatever they think their work is worth, and they do. Nothing wrong with that. The aforementioned was just my opinion based on what I know, and can be taken as just an opinion. </p>

    Cheers,
    Arnie..

  12. #36

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    Roger Borys caught some flak a few years ago which damaged his reputation. I guess you can all do a search for it. I don't know how much of it is the truth. Word went around that when clients finally got their guitars they sold them right off because of their painful dealings with Roger. I guess he was going through a messy divorce and that affected his work.

    I bought a used Borys B120 last year with a cardinal peghead inlay by Chip Wilson who was Roger's apprentice for a while. It dates from the late 80s. It was originally owned by a jazz guitarist from Vermont. I got it from a guy who got it from the guy who put it up on ebay. Sweet as there isn't another one like it.

  13. #37

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    To a certain degree, boutique builders suffer from . . . and benefit from the same type of brand awareness as the manufactures do. A Gibson L5CES has a list price of more than triple some of the similar guitars that are arguably in the same league of quality and playability. Largely because it says Gibson on the head stock. There are both tangible and intangible benefits to the buyer paying more for a Gibson. One of the largest values and benefits is its resale value.

    Similarly, the list of builders mentioned herein, offers a very wide range of price points. Virtually all of the builders mentioned on that list are so good at what they do . . . it's almost impossible to rationalize why some would charge upwards of $30K for an instrument that can be bought for $8,000 to $10,000 from another equally talented and skilled luthier. Without a doubt, there are certain features in design and other attributes of boutique built guitars, that are unique to certain builders . . . . and that's definitetly worthy of higher prices to those who will pay for those differences. Similarly to the manufacturers, those boutique builders with a higher degree of notability as being more prominent . . . the Bob Benedetto and John Montelleone type names . . . will draw a higher resale value as well.

    I draw my opinions from when I had the pleasure of playing virtually every one of the guitars in Chinery's Blue Collection . . . . including the blue D'Aquisto that they were commissioned to pay tribute to. While there were aesthetic differences . . . there were no differences in quality between any of the guitars. None, zip, zero, nada!!! Scott told me that he had his own opinion about which he thought was the best of the bunch . . . but, being the consumate gentleman that he was, with a little twinkle in his eye, he said he'd never say which it was. I too had my favorite of that collection. But, my choice was driven purely by the subjectivity of aesthetics and not by the objectivity of build quality. I believe Scott's personal choice was driven by his emotions.
    Last edited by Patrick2; 03-19-2012 at 03:03 PM. Reason: omitted text.

  14. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    To a certain degree, boutique builders suffer from . . . and benefit from the same type of brand awareness as the manufactures do. A Gibson L5CES has a list price of more than triple some of the similar guitars that are arguably in the same league of quality and playability. Largely because it says Gibson on the head stock. There are both tangible and intangible benefits to the buyer paying more for a Gibson. One of the largest values and benefits is its resale value.

    Similarly, the list of builders mentioned herein, offers a very wide range of price points. Virtually all of the builders mentioned on that list are so good at what they do . . . it's almost impossible to rationalize why some would charge upwards of $30K for an instrument that can be bought for $8,000 to $10,000 from another equally talented and skilled luthier. Without a doubt, there are certain features in design and other attributes of boutique built guitars, that are unique to certain builders . . . . and that's definitetly worthy of higher prices to those who will pay for those differences. Similarly to the manufacturers, those boutique builders with a higher degree of notability as being more prominent . . . the Bob Benedetto and John Montelleone type names . . . will draw a higher resale value as well.

    I draw my opinions from when I had the pleasure of playing virtually every one of the guitars in Chinery's Blue Collection . . . . including the blue D'Aquisto that they were commissioned to pay tribute to. While there were aesthetic differences . . . there were no differences in quality between any of the guitars. None, zip, zero, nada!!! Scott told me that he had his own opinion about which he thought was the best of the bunch . . . but, being the consumate gentleman that he was, with a little twinkle in his eye, he said he'd never say which it was. I too had my favorite of that collection. But, my choice was driven purely by the subjectivity of aesthetics and not by the objectivity of build quality. I believe Scott's personal choice was driven by his emotions.

    well don't leave us hanging for heaven's sake.

    so what do you think his fave was?

    and

    what was your favorite?

  15. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    well don't leave us hanging for heaven's sake.

    so what do you think his fave was?

    and

    what was your favorite?
    Out of deep respect for each of the superbly talented builders commissioned by Scott, as well as Scott's own desire to keep that to himself, I will not divulge which I believed was his favorite . . . whether or not my speculation on that was correct or incorrect.

    However, due the the subjectivity of my own opinion as being based purely upon personal preferences of aesthetics, I'm comfortable that offering an opinion on which I liked most will not be disrespectful to any of the builders. So . . . . my favorite was/is the Mark Lacey.

    Ever since I first saw a Lacey Imperial at Ted Krauss' D'Aquisto Strings booth at a guitar show in Five Towns College, Long Island NY . . . I've been a huge fan. The one at Ted's booth was a blond. But, it was one of the most beautiful blonds I've ever met.

    I really did spend quite a bit more time looking at the guitars from all angles as I held them . . . than I did actually playing them. So, while they all sounded very good . . . I never really played any of them long enough to choose a favorite based upon tonality. Oh, I did recognize nuances, for sure. But, that assessment too would have been subjective.

    Linda's guitar was also gorgeous, as was John Montelleone's.

    But, quite honestly. . . . playing the original D'Aquisto just sent chills up my spine. I really didn't need much more than 2 or 3 minutes to detect its greatness. I'm not sure we will ever see such greatness in a master luthier again.

  16. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    I'm not sure we will ever see such greatness in a master luthier again.


    I agree, Jimmy was one of a kind, he set the bar for the rest of them.





    Cheers,
    Arnie..

  17. #41

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    When you are dealing with builders like these how do you choose? Here is what I did:

    1) As you said, based on subjective aesthetic preferences narrow your choices to the ones who resonate with you from a design perspective.

    2) Have an in-depth phone conversation and see how well they listen to you and how well they can communicate with you. They are all very different in this regard.

    3) Distance was a differentiator for me. The ability to bring over necks that I like, see certain details at the shop etc. was a deciding factor.

    My $.02.

    Bob

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    Out of deep respect for each of the superbly talented builders commissioned by Scott, as well as Scott's own desire to keep that to himself, I will not divulge which I believed was his favorite . . . whether or not my speculation on that was correct or incorrect.

    However, due the the subjectivity of my own opinion as being based purely upon personal preferences of aesthetics, I'm comfortable that offering an opinion on which I liked most will not be disrespectful to any of the builders. So . . . . my favorite was/is the Mark Lacey.

    Ever since I first saw a Lacey Imperial at Ted Krauss' D'Aquisto Strings booth at a guitar show in Five Towns College, Long Island NY . . . I've been a huge fan. The one at Ted's booth was a blond. But, it was one of the most beautiful blonds I've ever met.

    I really did spend quite a bit more time looking at the guitars from all angles as I held them . . . than I did actually playing them. So, while they all sounded very good . . . I never really played any of them long enough to choose a favorite based upon tonality. Oh, I did recognize nuances, for sure. But, that assessment too would have been subjective.

    Linda's guitar was also gorgeous, as was John Montelleone's.

    But, quite honestly. . . . playing the original D'Aquisto just sent chills up my spine. I really didn't need much more than 2 or 3 minutes to detect its greatness. I'm not sure we will ever see such greatness in a master luthier again.

  18. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7
    When you are dealing with builders like these how do you choose? Here is what I did:

    1) As you said, based on subjective aesthetic preferences narrow your choices to the ones who resonate with you from a design perspective.

    2) Have an in-depth phone conversation and see how well they listen to you and how well they can communicate with you. They are all very different in this regard.

    3) Distance was a differentiator for me. The ability to bring over necks that I like, see certain details at the shop etc. was a deciding factor.

    My $.02.

    Bob
    If you are within quick and easy proximity of the builder's shop . . . and he is comfortable with you stopping in occasionally to check on the progress, that's a HUGE plus!! That will play a huge roll in you being able to bond with that guitar . . . even before you play the first note on it.

  19. #43

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    Patrick,I am visiting my luthier and bringing two of my instruments with me so he can measure the necks, I can look at wood and go over details.A definite plus...:-)Bob
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    If you are within quick and easy proximity of the builder's shop . . . and he is comfortable with you stopping in occasionally to check on the progress, that's a HUGE plus!! That will play a huge roll in you being able to bond with that guitar . . . even before you play the first note on it.

  20. #44
    Greetings to archtop lovers. Come check us out at FineArchtops.com where you will find access to many of today's top archtop luthiers on one website. Each luthier has their own introductory page with pictures.

    We are new to the Internet and will be broadening our scope as we grow.

    Steve-founder

  21. #45

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    Now seems like a good time to remind all you archtop lovers that many of the top archtop builders will be at the upcoming Montreal Guitar Show (June 29-30/July 1) in, well, Montreal. I go every year and have a blast.

    It takes place during the Montreal Jazz Festival, which is just one big party.
    Just SOME the builders in attendance (I've only listed those whose archtop instruments I have played at previous shows or in the past:

    Alan Carruth
    Ken Parker
    Linda Manzer (Canadian Builder)
    Tony Duggan-Smith (Canadian Builder)
    Brian Kingston (Canadian Builder)
    Cristian Mirabella
    David Wren (Canadian Builder)
    Doug Harrison (Canadian Builder)
    Erich Solomon
    Mario Beauregard (Canadian Builder)
    Greg German
    Michael Greenfield (Canadian Builder)
    Michael McCarthy
    Oskar Graf (Canadian Builder)
    Peter Hopkins (Canadian Builder)
    Tom Ribbecke

  22. #46

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    What about Ryan Thorell? He's making the Frank Vignola guitars these days and has some really nice looking archtops. The few Wysteria models I've seen in pictures look absolutely stunning.

    Thorell Guitars

  23. #47

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    "I agree, Jimmy was one of a kind, he set the bar for the rest of them."

    let's not forget who set the bar for him...hint; his last name had the same first two letters. but I'm guessing you mean the modern builders.

    btw, I've played guitars by many of those listed, but my favorite was John Zeidler. yes, he was a close personal friend, but his workmanship was flat out the best, not to mention an incredible piano like tone w/sustain for days. Monteleone and D'Aquisto were right there as well.
    Last edited by wintermoon; 05-30-2012 at 03:30 PM.

  24. #48

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    Hi Finearchtops,

    >>> Greetings to archtop lovers. Come check us out at FineArchtops.com

    I took a look at your website, but I do not get it.

    How do you fit into a purchase from one of the builders? (Noting your website disclaimer,...)

    Or more bluntly, how do you generate revenue from the site?

    I just think it is reasonable to understand where everyone stands in this small (but oh so nice) niche of the guitar market.

    Chris

  25. #49

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    Can someone post good archtop guitar luthiers in Europe - shipping + taxes + insurance makes all guitars from USA not affordable for european customers.

  26. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcis
    Can someone post good archtop guitar luthiers in Europe - shipping + taxes + insurance makes all guitars from USA not affordable for european customers.
    Frans Elferink - Netherlands
    Daniel Slaman - Netherlands
    Stefan Sonntag - Germany
    Mike Vanden - UK