I posted this in another thread but wanted to share it here, too...as I was awe-struck by these facts the first time I took a factory tour and experienced the facility for myself. Thanks for reading!
Many things have changed at Warwick in the last 4 years. Production has been reduced from around 9000 instruments per year, to about 2500 per year. The focus is on making instruments of the highest quality and consistency. We've always felt we make great instruments, but todays instruments are in a completely different category. We are investing 3 times the hours in making a bass as we were in previous years, from 6-9 hours to the current 22-30 hours per instrument. This is completely opposite what most manufacturers are doing today - but our focus isn't on getting as much done as quickly as possible...its about letting quality and perfection be our guide.
All of the wood we source is certified legal wood, and not coming from places that cannot be guaranteed. Additionally, Warwick is now a leader in using FSC-Certified Ebony and US Swamp Ash. The FSC Ebony (Forest Stewardship Council) is carries the strictest guidelines - not only does the wood need to be FSC-Certified, but the factory too. There are 3 manufacturers in the US (Martin, Gibson, and as of February PRS) that are FSC-Certified. In Europe it is Sonor and Warwick. This guarantees, every step of the way, that our wood comes from legal certified forests, no forests that are being cut for agriculture use, no wood from countries with civil or traditional rights violated, and no genetically altered woods. All of the wood at Warwick & Framus is allowed to air-dry for a minimum of 3-5 years (usually much longer), then it is slowly brought to an exact moisture-content with a special humid-air kiln. We only build with wood that is at the optimum 8% moisture content. A special machine is used to check EACH piece of wood individually for moisture-content...at which time it is hand-sorted for defects, and also hand-matched for use in an instrument. Every instrument is sorted by hand with a template, to be sure only the finest matching is made. Even though Warwick & Framus have some of the most advanced machines in the world, we go through many steps of hand-crafting and hand-finishing. A lot of builders do things to simply save time and energy...we want to create the best instruments possible. Every neck is made in a laminate fashion for strength and stability, again - done by hand. The grains are sorted and put together like this: \\\||///. We have 5-axis routers instead of the industry standard 3-axis routers, which allow us to contour the instruments in a special fashion as well as little things, like drill our neck pocket bolts at the same angle as the body contours so that the ferrules are completely seated.
Our Invisible Fret Technology machine is the only one in existence, and insures a perfect fret job within 1/100mm. It is capable of creating a fingerboard with any radius between 9.5" and 47", and it perfectly levels and crowns the frets. We offer 5 types of fret wire, depending on your preference. Once again, every neck is completed by hand - sanding and rounding the fingerboard edges, applying oil, and making sure each one if perfect.
We use a type of lacquer finish that is also unique in the world of instrument building. Its a water based lacquer that is environmentally friendly, and ultra-thin. We do this in a UV curing machine, that is flushed with nitrogen - so there is no chemical reaction taking place. The finish is ultra-durable as well. Common poly finished can only attain a clarity of +/- 85%...whereas our UV lacquer is 93%-95% clear, similar to a diamond. Every instrument is wet-sanded by hand for the finest detail work, and hand-buffed...swirl marks are not acceptable to leave the German custom shop. Our neck pocket is also hand-fitted...a bolt-on neck instrument (with no bolts holding it together) can be swung around and shaken, and the neck will not slip out of the pocket. It is a precise fit, for perfect transmission of vibration. These are the main points, there are many others - and again, our goal is utmost quality and perfection.*
As I said, the last 4 years have seen serious improvements and innovations. We will continue to strive to make instruments of the highest quality and also consistency...as well as our dedication to the environment. Besides our FSC-certification, and we also have been awarded the EMAS-III designation for our strict commitment to a better future environment. We burn all of our wood waste for thermal energy which supplies our facility with heat, and we have the largest solar array in our part of Germany. Additionally, geothermal warmth is used to heat the entire facility - Thermal energy that is discharged from the building during the summertime is stored deep underground, to be used later in the winter to heat the entire complex. Throughout every step of production it is ensured that the least possible heat leaves the building unused. Our ultra-modern facility is equipped with insulated walls and windows throughout, fully-insulated heating pipes, and highly energy-efficient production machinery that is regularly and appropriately maintained. Warwick & Framus use about 860,000 kilowatt-hours of “green power” which comes from renewable energy sources, without dependence on Co2 producing sources or nuclear energy - an equivalent of 466 tons of CO2 that is not being released into the environment!
I hope this lends some insights into what Warwick & Framus believes in...but more-so, we hope you'll come experience it for yourself! Factory tours are by appointment, 9am - 3pm Monday through Friday. You can arrange an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org