Inspiration to resume a guitar-making project

on Tue 7 Jan


New ideas in traditional crafts take time to prove themselves and to be accepted. Time-honoured methods can sometimes blight inspiration and development. This is certainly true of woodworking crafts such as making musical instruments. 


I have yet to complete the flamenco guitar I began to make many years ago, when I could not afford to buy one. The New Year and some brilliant examples of the luthier’s craft now available on YouTube has inspired me to look again at the project. See a superb example by Goodall Guitars at:


My own attempt was designed according to what, at the time, was generally thought the very best principles. I did not know then about Francisco Simplicio, a Spanish luthier who in the 1930s experimented with traditional design and made nine guitars to his new revolutionary method. He removed the sound hole from the centre of the guitar and introduced two sound ports higher in the body. The effect was to increase the instrument’s sonority, improve its action and strengthen the structure. The general response to his ideas was ridicule and rejection. He died a pauper, but those rare guitars are now worth a fortune. 


Many years after his painstaking experiments, Simplicio’s ideas have recently been adopted and improved by Andalusian Guitars, two examples shown alongside my own apprentice piece in the photographs. My flamenco teacher, Ruben Diaz has written an extensive article on the development of these new guitars, with many links to videos which develop his ideas at:


I doubt I would have had the courage to emulate these ideas had I known about them when I started, but I hope to find the time to complete the guitar I began to make forty years ago. Simplicio began making furniture, so there’s hope yet.


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