Saturday, May 28, 2016

1961 Hernandez y Aguado Style Classical Guitar, Redwood/Indian Rosewood, For Sale

The partnership of Manuel Hernandez and Victoriano Aguado was one of the most successful in guitar making history.

Roy Courtnall, Making Master Guitars, 1993

Please note that this guitar is currently for sale at Savage Classical Guitar. Please click here to see this guitar!

I made this guitar several years ago, but because of custom orders, I had to set it aside. I put strings on it two weeks ago and it is a most magnificent sounding guitar! It has good, clear separation string to string, wonderful sustain with evenness and balance throughout with a very lyrical voice. I originally made this guitar for myself, but someone with a good strong technique and a good understanding of musical interpretation should own this guitar and play it on a regular basis.

This guitar is a fairly close copy of a guitar made by Hernandez y Aguado in 1961. The body length is 480mm, most of the HyA guitars had a body length of 490mm; string length is 650mm, many were 655mm and longer; other than that I tried to stay as close to the original as possible. The headstock crown is a copy of HyA's work and if you look closely at the photo you can see that I recessed part of the face of the headstock and stippled it, like the original. The sound board is braced with a typical HyA asymmetrical bracing with an angled cutoff brace towards the treble side.

The soundboard is redwood that I re-sawed from a board that was salvaged from a barn that was located near Yosemite National Park. I estimate that the board I used was over 70 years old, the sound board is well aged and will continue to open up. The neck is Spanish cedar, it too is well aged, I was told the board it was sawn from was over forty years old. In the above photo you can see that the sides are laminated, the outside is East Indian rosewood and the inside is Alaska cedar. This is not something that HyA did on their guitars, I borrowed that idea from Jose Ramirez III.

As I said, the back and sides are East Indian rosewood, along with ebony binding that has curly maple purling. Ebony fret board, 52mm at the nut and 62mm at the 12th fret; the bridge is East Indian rosewood with a mother-of-pearl tie block covering.

Stop by the Guitar Foundation of America International Convention and Competition, June 20-25, 2016 in Denver, Colorado and visit me at my table in the Vendor Expo to play this wonderful guitar!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Few Thoughts on Classic Guitar Bracing

The guitar is complex, mystifying, forever trying to equal its powerful enchantment with that of its equally bewitching and enigmatic qualities...

Jose Ramirez III, Things About the Guitar, 1990

A young classical guitarist, let's call her Virginia, recently forwarded me a link to another guitar maker's website, a steel string maker who makes some really nice guitars and has some definite ideas on how to make a steel string guitar sound loud! She asked if I agree with this maker's take on guitar bracing.

In the page that I was forwarded, the maker states that he braces the guitar's top so the bridge is locked in place - reduce movement of the bridge and more of the strings' energy is transmitted to the top.

Yes, I agree with that, reducing the bridge's movement has been discussed quite a bit in several papers on guitar acoustics. If anyone is interested in reading several articles on guitar acoustics, which include illustrations of how a guitar top moves when a string is plucked, I suggest that you start with these articles by Ervin Somoygi, please click here. Another great website on guitar acoustics posted by the University of New South Wales, is here. You should check out R.M. Mottola's website, Liutaio Mottola Lutherie Information.

Yes, Virginia, I agree with the idea of locking a guitar bridge into place, but a classical guitar is different than a steel string guitar. I know both instruments are guitars, but it's like comparing an Arkansas Black apple to a Rome Beauty apple, both are apples, but they don't taste alike.

A classical guitar is created to make poetry and music, to have a beautiful sound, a bel canto voice, a voice that has allure and is to be treasured. How the bridge moves on classical guitar top helps give it its "classical" sound. I won't comment about the voice of a steel string guitar, since I really don't like steel string guitars.

I know that the current fad in the classical guitar world is to own and play a LOUD guitar, but where is the beauty in loud?

Virginia, did you notice in that article you forwarded to me, the words "tone colors", "beauty" or "allure" aren't used?

Since the days of Antonio de Torres, classical guitar makers work towards the goal of creating a guitar that has a beautiful voice with wonderful projection. This is accomplished by looking at the guitar as a whole entity, everything must be taken into consideration. The top is the heart of the guitar, but all the other parts give the guitar its soul.

As for bracing the top, well, there are as many ways to brace the top as there are guitar makers, both amateur and professional. A search on the internet for guitar bracing will reveal just that. All those "styles" of top bracing show me that how you brace a guitar top is almost insignificant: how you graduate the thickness of the top, back and side; the quality of the wood that is used; weight of the bridge; lacquer, shellac or oil varnish; etc., etc., these things are probably more important than just how the top is braced. The great Santos Hernandez constantly experimented with how he braced a top, nearly every guitar he made was braced a little bit differently, and the great Antonio de Torres always tweaked his famous bracing, too!

To further drive home the important point of it is how the guitar is made, click here to see the latest addition of Orfeo Magazine. Take a look at all seven issues!

This subject, that of bracing a guitar top, is enormous! There are many schools of guitar making, the Madrid, Granada, Barcelona, German, Australian, American, Japanese, the list goes on and on. The best thing to look for is a beautiful sounding guitar that you fall in love with!

Yes, Virginia, there is beauty in the world and not all of it is loud.

The Best Workshop in the World!

The best workshop in the world is the one that you are working in! I know that there are people who complain about their work space - it is ...