The Loud Sounds of Guitars from Bandung to the World
From Bandung, West Java, guitars made by local folks can be heard loudly all over the world. The ease of export-import activities of raw materials for production plays a role in making it happen.
CORNELIUS HELMY HERLAMBANG
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The fingers of Maman Abdurahman (50) danced in the process of making guitars at PT Genta Trikarya in the Ujungberung area, Bandung, in early March 2023. Among dozens of guitars that were ready to be shipped, inside a room with cool air Maman's right hand strummed the acoustic guitar strings.
Meanwhile, Maman's left hand turned the tuner to find the tone that his heart and ears wanted. For the sake of accuracy, a digital tuner was also installed at the end of the milk chocolate-colored guitar handle. ”The sound of the guitar is flawless. Clear, round and not discordant," he said. Maman is one of at least 100 workers making Genta Trikarya guitars. This year, the guitar manufacturing company turns 64.
Being a quality control officer, Maman is the last spearhead before the guitar is embraced by consumers. His 25 years of experience has become his biggest asset in maintaining product quality.
Produced by men, guitar imperfections are bound to exist. Several notes on the wall near his desk show the thoroughness of the "taste" before the work reaches consumers. “There are dozens of people working to produce one guitar. If it's not ideal, keep improving it together," said Maman.
So far, the joint work has not broken promises. Within a year, Genta can produce 8,000 guitars. Uniquely made in the country, the big name is acceptable in foreign countries. More than 80 percent of the guitars are destined for the export market. Countries in Europe and America are the main enthusiasts.
Guitars made by local folks are also not cheap.
Quality is a selling point for consumers. One guitar can be priced between US$105 and $450 dollars at the supplier. The nominal value can be 3 to 4 times more expensive when it reaches consumers.
Import of raw materials
General manager of Genta Trikarya, Awan Nasution, said the best raw materials are needed to maintain the quality of the guitar. Genta chooses spruce wood (picea), which is known as the best material for making guitars. The wood is placed at a special part, at the upper part of the body of the guitar or the most vital part to produce sound.
However, spruce only exists in northern Europe. Importing is the only way to bring it to Indonesia.
The selection of the strings is not arbitrary. For the sake of finding materials that do not rust, for the time being they have to be imported. “Metal strings are made in Indonesia. However, it takes a high cost to produce an equivalent quality product. Here, the cost is very high because not all guitar manufacturers or consumers choose it," he said.
The choice to import raw materials, said director of Genta Trikarya, Agung Nasution, requires Genta to spend a lot of energy. The process is often not simple. It is high in cost and time-consuming, which is prone to disrupt production.
He found a solution through ease of import for export purposes (KITE) for small and medium industries (IKM) from the Directorate General of Customs and Excise at the Finance Ministry.
This program provides VAT and Import VAT exemption facilities, which are given to IKM and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that process, assemble and install raw materials for export purposes. There is also an export clinic to provide export education and literacy for small businesses. Everything is done to trigger local businesses to export their products.
Now we are increasingly focused on developing innovation and keeping the business afloat.
Agung said the benefit of participating in KITE was that it cut the import time from five days to 1-2 days. This also reduces production costs so that the selling price of guitars is more competitive. "Now we are increasingly focused on developing innovation and keeping the business afloat," said Agung.
Apart from Genta Trikarya, IKM KITE participants from Bandung are PT Global Kriya Nusantara, a company that makes gold perfume boxes that are exported to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and PT Soo Indah Jaya, a maker of embroidery for exports to South Korea.
There is also CV Golden Mulia, a furniture company that produces reclining seats for the United States market, and PT Sinar Baru Rajawali, an optical cable manufacturer.
Based on data in August 2022, all companies have 612 workers. The company recorded investment receipts of Rp 29.28 billion and export foreign exchange of Rp 36.397 billion (Kompas.id, 12/8/2022).
"In the future we will continue to work with various micro, small and medium enterprises [MSMEs] to facilitate a much better business climate," said head of the Bandung Customs Office, Budi Santoso.
Mango tree wood
Musician Muhammad Suar Nasution proudly shows off his brown guitar. At the top, the large wood grain pattern becomes the dominant accent.
“The wood is taken from a mango tree. Although there are not as many as spruce, the enthusiasts are growing, both at home and abroad,” said Suar, who now heads Genta Trikarya's research department.
The idea to use mango tree wood came about six years ago. His inspiration came after seeing local handicrafts being made in the Philippines. When applied to guitars in Indonesia, the results did not disappoint. Using trees that are no longer productive, guitars made of mango wood also travel around the world.
One of the mango producing centers that partners with Genta is in Indramayu regency, West Java. The welfare of residents also has the potential to increase. Agung said they bought unproductive mango trees. Previously they were sold for firewood, but when it is sold as material for making guitars, the price is much higher. They usually sell 1 cubic meter of wood from 3 mango trees for Rp 2 million.
Haris, a mango wood collector from Indramayu, said guitar production using mango wood contributed to the welfare of the residents. Previously, unproductive trees ended up as firewood. Now they are much more valuable as they become raw materials for guitars.
"The guitar is not only melodious, but it also contributes to the life of the local residents, starting from helping to pay their children’s school fees to their daily living," he said.
Anyone can work and contribute to the country. When everything continues to be pioneered, unexpected blessings appear, contributing to the welfare of the people around them.