Richard Jernigan -> Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 2 2020 7:05:35)
I had the pleasure of getting to know Garcia, and asked him to make me a guitar, a spruce/Brazilian classical. It turned out beautifully in appearance, sound and playability.
He struck me as a very knowledgeable and communicative person. I knew that he had served three times as Romanillos's assistant at his summer guitar making course in Guijosa, and that he had published a scholarly book on woods for guitar making. But I didn't know that at the time I was dealing with him he was also working on a replica of Torres's famous FE08.
The three .jpgs after the video are photos of copies of "La Cumbre". The third is one of Brian Cohen's. I'm pretty sure it's his first one, from 1999.
Here Abel gives a talk at Badalona, Catalunya in April, 2017, detailing the construction of his replica. I've only watched the first several minutes. To someone like me who knows nothing about the subject, it looks like a master class in guitar decoration.
You can turn on cc for closed captions. If you go to "*" (settings) you can choose auto-translate to a number of different languages. I looked at English for a few minutes. It looked fairly good.
RobF -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 2 2020 9:38:09)
Thanks for that, Richard. He is a Maestro.
Richard Jernigan -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 2 2020 19:30:25)
Thanks for that, Richard. He is a Maestro.
He showed me some spruce that Romanillos had given him "from early in his career." It could have been the next board in the flitch to Romanilos's #407 from 1973, or Bream's famous #501 from the same year.
I asked him about back and side woods. This resulted in a carefully organized 15-minute dissertation. He said he could make just as good guitars from palo escrito, cocobolo, Indian rosewood or Brazilian.
He concluded by saying that making a guitar with Brazilian rosewood was like "putting jewelry on it."
Then we went into his humidity controlled wood storage shed. I picked out the nicest looking Brazilian I had seen in 20 years: straight grain, quarter sawn. I asked him which set he would have picked. He indicated a slab cut set. "¿Porqué es mejor esa?" I asked. "Es mas blanda," he replied. But he said the quarter sawn set was fine. I told him to pick the top:"Tu eres el maestro."
He picked a top with very fine grain, and a fair amount of cross-grain medullary rays--"silk."
If I were forced to choose, I would say Romanillos's #407 is a better guitar, but it is far from immediately obvious why it is.
In Courtnall's book Romanillos is quoted saying it has taken well known professionals a year to adjust to one of his instruments. It usually takes me at least a half hour playing #407 finally to conclude, "Yes, this really is the best I have."
I bought the Romanillos from Bruce Banister, who played Romanillos's guitars during his concert career. I asked him, "Is it sensitive to nail length? I play flamenco too."
"It's sensitive to everything," he replied. You have to really focus on your right hand technique. Then the tone begins to come out, in great variety.
With the Garcia, you pick it up, play a few notes, and think, "Ah, lovely."
johnguitar -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 3 2020 16:06:03)
I met Abel at that festival in Badalona where 7 of us makers were invited to display our Torres copies. Six jaws dropped when we saw the copy that Abel had made; incredible work! I enjoyed his company very much and that of his lovely family. He is very approachable, funny and a master guitar-maker. I won't tell you which guitar I liked the sound of best because it would seem immodest but I loved the sound of his as well.
singlechange -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 4 2020 3:06:22)
Very interesting thread here about a luthier I've been looking to find out more about.
Richard Jernigan -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 5 2020 3:22:47)
Here's Abel Garcia Ayala playing Abel Garcia Lopez's replica of Torres "La Cumbre."
confirms the suspicion that he is indeed the son of the luthier. Furthermore it says that Abel padre was educated as musician, painter and electrical engineer!
Abel Sr. never mentioned his son. I knew he had a daughter. The first day I visited I asked to play one of his guitars. He apologized, saying the only one there at the time was a replica of a smaller Torres that he had made for his daughter. It was maybe about the size of a tercerola, maybe even a little smaller. I played it in their large, well furnished living room. It was excellent, with one of the best 3rd strings I ever felt and heard.
Driving to Paracho the day before I said to myself, "This is just for old time's sake, I'm not buying any guitars." I returned to the beautiful small city of Uruapan via the 30-km hairpinning and hair raising mountain road. The next morning I enjoyed the sumptuous breakfast at the Hotel Mansion del Cupatitzio. I conversed with a man from Costa Rica who exported fruit from the area to the USA. The fruit at breakfast was exquisite.
i went back to my room, picked up the phone, and dialed Abel Garcia Lopez's number. His wife answered. It took a little convincing to get her to interrupt her husband's work. When he answered I said,"Maestro, quisiera hablar sobre la construcción de una guitarra. ¿Es posible que te conviniere una visita?" He invited me to come see him that day, and spent more than an hour settling the details, and reminiscing a little about Romanilos.
When I was 19 I took the train to Uruapan from Mexico City to buy my first guitar. In those days the secondary lines still ran steam locomotives. In 1956 Uruapan was a small, poor, rather bleak town. But the neat and pretty nine-room Casa Maravilla was wonderful. By the doorway of each room, under the eaves, hung a cage of jilgueros (linnets). You awoke to their singing.
Uruapan is now bright, clean and prosperous. Its hinterland stretches from the 8,000-foot (2,400m) foothills to the north down to the tierra caliente to the south. They produce everything from macadamia nuts to mangos for export to the USA, thanks to the NAFTA treaty.
Echi -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 5 2020 9:28:31)
I won't tell you which guitar I liked the sound of best because it would seem immodest
singlechange -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 5 2020 13:45:33)
I bet I am by far not the only one who really enjoys RNJ's stories. I would read a book if he wrote one about his guitar journey from 1950's to present day. Keep them coming, RNJ! Robert
Richard Jernigan -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 21 2020 4:06:24)
It doesn't take much prompting for me to write a story. If you're interested, check out "First Trip to Paracho" on the Off Topic subforum.
machopicasso -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 21 2020 5:56:31)
I bet I am by far not the only one who really enjoys RNJ's stories.
Richard Jernigan -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 21 2020 8:08:53)
I wrote a long story, maybe too long. When I hit OK it disappeared. Internet went down at the same instant, so maybe that had something to do with it. I'm on my iPhone personal hotspot at the momen, hooked to the internet via AT&T Cellular Data.
So no "First trip to Paracho" post. Maybe later.
ernandez R -> RE: Abel Garcia: Torres "La Cumbre" (Oct. 22 2020 3:23:07)
I too am a RNJ fanboy and I too have had my best writing blorped into the nowheresphere. It hurts. A book wouldn't hurt, as I've know a few treasures of history who have passed without a word left to remind us...
Ha, Torres left us his guitars, whole chapters in each instrument.
What would be interesting is to have the original Torres played along side the replicas.