MY GUITAR

In his foreword to J.L.Romanillos' book Antonio de Torres guitarmaker: his life and work, Julian Bream puts forward a consideration that unveils the real essence of our instrument: The guitar has won the hearts of its many admirers through its unique ability to evoke a musical ambience which is both magical and intensely personal. It is the character and quality of its musical voice that touches the heart strings. It is from this quotation that I wish to explain what I try to obtain from my guitars. Beauty and nobility of sound, more than other objectively measurable physic parameters, are the goals I have been trying to achieve for the last past years. Some features, such as power, sustain and uniform emission on the whole fingerboard, are what can make an instrument mechanically functional. They cannot, however, render it magic, fascinating, in one word unique. The essence of the guitar is to be found in its  incomparable timbric richness. It is only thanks to this quality that this instrument can cast a spell on its listeners. From any other point of view, the guitar is and always will be a step behind the rest of classical instruments. Any attempt, however commendable, to improve its functionality should not be detrimental to the peculiar characteristics of this instrument. On this purpose, I think that the guitar can express its potential to its fullest in small or medium sized halls where the acoustics is particularly favourable. In larger concert-halls this instrument is necessarily disadvantaged and its limits, rather than its virtues, appear evident. One of main events of my career as luthier has been the possibility to examine and listen to some great instruments of the past (Torres, E.Garcia, Hauser Sr., Bouchet, Romanillos, Rubio). They have become my referring points because of their sound quality, which I consider more fascinating compared with the best renown modern concert instruments. At present, my chief goal is to attain the same timbric beauty of the best instruments of the past. At the same time, I try toovercome the functional drawbacks that have caused their nearly complete disappearance from the present concert scene. Of course, it is not my intention to sacrifice the charming voice of this instrument to favour other qualities, such as power, which is unluckily the only matter of interest for too many guitarists.For this reason, I only use spruce for the sounding boards of my instruments. The timbric quality of this wood is incomparably clear, crystalline and, at the same time, sweet and full-toned.My conception of guitar is rooted in the search of a wide and uniform response, neither favouring nor neglecting any of all reproducible frequencies.The fundamental frequency must be present, to any possible extent, even on low tonalities in order to make them sound deep and sonorous. To do that, the instrument must be light and resonant while the sounding board must not be exceedingly structured or stiffened by convexities and chaining.Likewise, also the harmonics must be present, including overtones that increase the sound brightness to the right extent, without making the instrument sound nasal and rough. Ideally, the harmonic formula of notes should be balanced with the main frequency overcoming the others, which decrease in intensity. This way it is possible to obtain an instrument with a crystalline, full-toned sound.Such rare feature marks only the best instruments and makes all the notes stand out in a chord, which is also a very relevant aspect in polyphony.The instrument that can boast such features does not only allow the musician to stress the harmonics he wishes to extol but also to obtain a remarkable timbric modularity by means of the right hand technique. Attack must be ready and quick. Sustain, in its turn, is also important because it enhances the musician expressiveness. Theoretically speaking, there should not be too short notes even though this is hardly ever possible to obtain as it depends on the instrument resonance frequencies that are hardly controllable. However, I think this aspect is not determinant as regards the overall evaluation of an instrument.I prefer to pay attention to the sound projection of an instrument, rather than its power of emission. In my opinion, uniformity on all frequencies and timbric uniformity of strings on the whole fingerboard are more relevant qualities. It is thanks to these features that a musician can keep concentrated on the music he is interpreting and express himself freely with no concern for the disparities of response of his instrument. In other words, the ideal instrument is the one that enables the musician to disclose his art without limiting his inspiration. When this is combined with a fascinating sound, the guitar can give us unattainable moments of poetry, which have caused so many of us to fall in love with this magic instrument.

Soundboard mosaic detail

Soundboard mosaic detail

Amaranto purflings
on satinwood back

Amaranto purflings on satinwood back

Soundboard detail

Soundboard detail

Headstock with mosaic detail

Headstock with mosaic detail