Guitar Making

Approach to making

By the time I started guitar making more than 20 years ago, I was in my early thirties and had already learned a number of other arts and crafts, which gave me plenty of confidence to tackle the crafting aspect of luthier work . My own inclination was towards the traditional spanish guitar and that is what I set out to make. In 1993 I began by studying the guitars of Antonio de Torres to gain insight into the fundamentals of traditional spanish guitar-making - from then on, the experience of making itself became my teacher. I found that my guitars improved steadily from batch to batch as I experimented, and I learned to trust my instincts more and more. I continue to work in this way, always adjusting and refining. I am more instinctive than scientific in approach, although I do make notes about various things, particularly the pitches (tap tones) of the front and back during construction and afterwards - this has been very useful for subsequent fine-tuning.

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Construction - design and techniques

I build mainly in the style of the spanish tradition - the fan-braced dome fronted design epitomised by the work of Antonio de Torres. Torres was the starting point for me, and I went on to design my own particular take on that bracing method and general making priciples, which has evolved over time. The principle of combined lightness and strength ( as opposed to heaviness and strength!) is very important in traditional building, where all components of the guitar take part in the production of sound and tone. Building traditionally also means using traditional natural materials without employing artificial ones (e.g. carbon fibre, nomex). I have always preferred the sound and feel of a traditional guitar to contemporary styles, and consequently, that is what I make.

I make instruments which are both light and strong, finding an optimum for the sound quality without compromising the longevity of the guitar ( by building too light). The longevity of them I can personally attest to - my eldest daughter still plays my first guitar made in 1993, and in the last few years I have come across two of my earliest guitars, numbers 3 and 5, in perfect working order.

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Models

I currently have seven different body shapes available, of which five are for classical or flamenco, the remaining two, models 15 & 16, are custom builds that lend themselves to other playing styles.

Model 08 - a small-bodied shape based on Torres F.E.13. It can be used for Torres copies or with other bracing designs, X-brace for instance.

Model 12 - my standard full-size shape for classical, flamenco or crossover guitars. Any of my bracing systems can be employed in it. This plantilla evolved from an earlier design (model 04 originally) which was inspired by a Domingo Esteso guitar.

Model 13 - basically a slightly larger version of 12.

Model 14 - this one is a copy of a 1929 Santos-Hernandez flamenco guitar, which I restored some years ago. I greatly admire the work of Santos-Hernandez since seeing a number of his guitars, which were (are) remarkable. No surprise that I use this for flamenco guitars, although there is no reason why it can't be used for classicals too.

Model 17 - a copy of a 1940 Hermann Hauser I that Julian Bream played for many years, on which I did some restoration work before he returned it to its owners, the Augustine family in New York, where it now resides in the Metropolitan Museum.

Model 15 - this was designed for a custom guitar using my client's steel-string guitar shape as inspiration. Nice for an X-brace nylon finger-picking guitar.

Model 16 - this very curvy, small-bodied C19th shape was used for another custom build - a nylon 12-string!

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