Short film Classical Guitar Making
Student project by Vlad Cinca, 2016
The traditional guitar is wonderfully malleable and responsive. It does not impose its sound on the player; rather, it channels the guitarist's personality and accentuates their individuality.
My guitars are built in the tradition of Torres and Hauser, with the famous ‘kite’ shape strutting. Many alternative avenues have opened up in guitar design over the past half century, but this is the design which established the sound of the classical guitar as we know it, and I believe this guitar is still the most warm, sweet and intimate. With my lightly built, traditional instruments I feel I can achieve these qualities without compromising the other, equally important characteristics of the guitar: its excitement, power, and virtuosity.
I have often been told that my guitars are easy to play. I take great care with the shape of the neck and the set-up so that the guitar is comfortable and free of buzzes. However, I think this ease of playing is actually mainly due to the sound of the guitar. A responsive instrument will easily achieve the sound and colour that the player is looking for, with the result that they won’t need to work hard to make it sound as they want.
Within my design there is considerable flexibility for making small adjustments, usually to the thickness of the back and front, the size of the struts and bars, and the depth, width, and length of the guitar’s body. In this way, through talking with professional players of my guitars and hearing them play in concert, over time I refined my instruments towards having greater ‘presence’ and weight on the concert platform.
Selecting spruce soundboards in Switzerland
As with all guitar makers, with experience I have developed an understanding of and feel for the wood which is very personal: its flexibility, its sound when tapped, and the effect of different levels of density. With this experience I can achieve the sound that I want by selecting the right soundboard and adjusting its thickness. Each maker has their own criteria and taste in soundboards, and so I nearly always visit the sawmills where the spruce is cut so that I can find exactly the wood that I like. These specialist sawmills are situated in the Alps of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and one of the perks of the job is visiting these beautiful locations.