My story

My name is Orla Strijker. I was 7 years old when I started playing guitar. From that moment my passion for guitars grew. I was 13 years old when I found my vocation at an American Car-meeting, where I saw a stand where self-built guitars were sold. I wanted to do the same, and become a guitar builder. A couple days later I had discussed my dream with my teacher from the Vechtdal College in Hardenberg. To which my he (Ewout Warringa) responded: ‘Well, if you still think the same way about it next year, we are going to build a guitar.’ No sooner said than done. I was 14 years old when we started building. I made an Electric Flying V. Back then, I only wanted to build Electric guitars. I always thought that with electric guitars you can be much more creative in terms of models and colors. That way I can express my creativity nicely. So hence the Flying V.

A while later (when I was 15 years old) a vacancy became available at The Fellowship of Acoustics for a Saturday help in the workshop. I didn’t have to think about it twice, I called Rudi Bults (the shop owner), and said that I wanted to be a guitar builder and that I like to work for them. The same day I was invited to come for an interview. I came in with my Father by my side, and very nervous in that very big building. Rudi asked for my details and that was the entire job interview, haha! I looked around the guitar shop for a bit, when Rudi told my father we will take her, I think she fits well here. A week later I received a phone call from Coen Bults (son of) that I had been accepted, and if I could start immediately after school that very same afternoon. What I was mainly allowed to do at the time was string up, and polish guitars.

2 months later, Ewout and I finished the electric guitar. And I could start with the next adventure. A little later I needed an internship for school which I was allowed to do at TFOA. I started working full time at TFOA for 2 weeks. When I got to know the real repairers (Erwin van de Ven and Harry Fulher) when I came in and introduced myself, I immediately told them that I wanted to become a guitar builder, in the hope that they took me seriously. And they did! Erwin was going to teach me how to set up guitars. And that went well for me, I was allowed to do more and more things over time. Everything was so interesting !!

After six months of working at TFOA, a man came in from Canada. Rudi introduced him to me. ‘Orla, This is Sergei de Jonge, he is a guitar builder from Canada.’ ‘Sergei this is Orla, she would like to become a guitar builder as well’. To which Sergei responded: ‘If you ever come to Canada, come to me and I will teach you.’ I was sooo glad someone gave me an offer!! My day couldn't go wrong. I cycled home very happy. Once at home I shared the good news with my parents. And they were also so happy for me and granted it to me. They said I could go there, but had to be 18 years old, and have my driver's license. At the time I was 16 years old. Because I had to wait another 2 years, I had the time to save up, in order to pay for the trip.

I was 16 years old and finished high school, and went to College in Zwolle (Deltion College) where I did woodworking level 2 BBL (1 day at school, 4 days working at TFOA) I soon found out that this education was not for me, I only learned things that I am not needed in my profession. I felt unhappy and misunderstood at school. Only my mentor at the time understood me and started looking for a solution with me. And the solution was to quit with school. I applied for an exemption from the Compulsory Education Officer and that they could perhaps see Canada as education instead of College. We entered that Trajectory and I made it happen, I was 17 years old and was legally allowed to drop out of school. I started working full time at TFOA until I could go to Canada.

When I was 18 years old I could get on a plane to Canada. Where I would stay for six months. I had a great and educational time there. I was able to build 4 guitars in that time. 2 for myself, and 2 for Sergei de Jonge. Once I was back, I was 19 years old and registered my own company as ‘Orla Guitars and Repairs’. At home we live nice and spacious, with a large barn that I could convert into a workshop. My father and I made a whole plan how it should be, worked hard, and ¾ months later the workshop was almost ready! On March 13, 2020 was the Opening of my Workshop / 20th anniversary. And since then I am Active in my workshop! And my dream has come true. So if you have any wishes for a beautiful self-built guitar from me, or if you are in need of a repair, do not hesitate to contact me. We’ll get just what you need!