Marko Hajdinovic (founder) and Josh Hajdinovic (nephew)
Where are you located?
Toronto, Canada. We are technically on the Mississauga side of the border right now – right by the airport – but will be moving into a new shop next month that puts us on the other side and into Toronto itself.
How long have you been building? Officially speaking, about 2 years, but probably closer to 4 years from when the hobby became more serious. I should clarify that Hammersmith doesn’t do our own woodwork in house – we use an outside OEM for our necks and bodies, which have shapes and specs totally unique to us even if some of the models have widely known inspirations. We’re not “luthiers” in the traditional sense, but fully build the instruments in our shop in Canada.
How did you get started building? Fluke, really. My nephew got me back into basses after about 15 years with no instruments at all. It became a hobby, then more of an addiction to gear, and then I thought I would fund this addiction by designing a bridge (which became our present Smartass bridge) and making that a company by itself. I had some trips overseas planned with my other business and visited suppliers in Japan, Korea and China and eventually just decided “I can do this”. I spent about 6 months designing the first product line, ran some prototypes and then booked space at NAMM. It’s all happened very quickly.
Why do you build instruments?
I’m never happy with things the way other people do them, and just have that “maker” gene in me. My dad was a welder-fitter and my mom was a tailor, so it’s easy to see where that comes from. I have spent time in the sign and lighting industries, designing and manufacturing custom products as well as contributing to themed interiors, furniture, packaging, graphic design. Building basses is just the next progression that allows me to tie in my creative and technical side with my interest in music, instruments and some very cool people.
When did you start using Nordstrand Pickups? From day 1. I knew that if we used unknown pickups or had some private labeled that no one would know what a Hammersmith pickup sounded like. Nordstrand is very well regarded, very easy to work with and we don’t mind the premium pricing because of the value the product adds to our instruments. We have more Nordstrand loaded basses than any other pickup brand.
How did you learn of Nordstrand Pickups? TalkBass, I think.
Do you have a favorite Nordstrand Pickup? Probably the BigSplits. The tonal range is just so broad and the silent split coil operation is big for me. Great harmonics, clarity and they’re very responsive to every type of playing style or attack.
How many instrument do you build per year? Our first year we did around 60, then the second year a little over 100 – almost double – though we had some supplier issues that slowed us down some, otherwise we likely would have hit 150 or so. We just leased a new shop and plan to set up with more inventory and actually release the website (2 years later!), so we have high hopes for 2018.
What do you believe are the most important factors in tone (ie, electronics, woods, touch of the player, etc..)? Assuming you take the player out of the equation, I would say pickups are #1 by a longshot, then strings, then the preamp or other downstream tone shaping as used. Solid body instruments aren’t affected as much by body woods as many people believe (IMO), though the fingerboard wood will have a more perceptible impact.
Who are some of the top players that you have built instruments for that use Nordstrand Pickups in their basses? I hope they don’t mind the name dropping (you did ask!) but we have basses with touring and recording players such as John Taylor, Juan Alderete, Tim Lefebvre, Jesse Keeler, Bryce Soderberg... and also some great solo talents like Remco Hendriks and Andy Irvine who have been a huge part of growing our brand. Every single one of those guys has Nordstrand loaded basses!
Do you play bass or guitar? Bass only, and that is more past tense than present. I’m more of a dabbler now that I am surrounded by basses all the time.
What are your favorite materials to work with? This wouldn’t apply to us as much as other totally custom builders – we stick mostly to the usual Alder, Swampash, Maple and Rosewood. You would think that my LED lighting background would lead me to do some lighting with the basses, but I’m not a fan. Never say never, I guess, but it’s not on the roadmap just now.
For more info, check out Hammersmith's facebook page. (website soon!)