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estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

The passing of Eugene Clark 

I have learned through a senior member of the guitar making community that Eugene Clark has passed away. He was an American guitar maker of note, he passed away a few days ago. I have informed my friends privately and allowed a day for news to travel and now give the information in public here on the Foro.

Gene was an important figure in American guitar making and not well known enough for his knowledge and love of flamenco guitars. He helped many makers, including myself, and set an example of study, guts and commitment to guitar making.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 17 2016 8:12:09
 
Piwin

Posts: 3394
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

Sorry to hear that estebanana. I can't say that I knew much about him nor that I ever had the pleasure of playing one of his guitars. But I've heard you speak highly of him before.
RIP.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 17 2016 18:36:17
 
Escribano

Posts: 6322
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

I had heard of him and it is always sad to lose a craftsman, creative. RIP Mr.Clark.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 17 2016 19:45:30
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1541
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

I was thinking of him just last week. I never met him but I read about him in the journal of The Guild of American Luthiers a while back. I guess I was thinking that my commitment to guitarmaking and my advancing age reminded me of him. I'm sorry he's gone. I wish I had had the chance to meet him.

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Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 17 2016 20:06:10
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3308
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

Stephen,

I had not heard of Eugene Clark before you mentioned his passing. Nevertheless, I'm sorry to hear it, particularly as you say he had some influence on you.

I looked him up among luthiers, however, and in several bios he is described as an "old school Spanish guitar maker." What does that mean, particularly with reference to Mr. Clark? How is "old school" different from other luthiers? Better craftsmanship? More attention to detail?

Thanks in advance.

Bill

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And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 17 2016 21:50:34
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

The fellow who got me started in guitar making died about 6-7 years ago from lung cancer. He was a close friend of 30 plus years. I think of him every day and miss him immensely so I know how you feel.

I regret never meeting Eugene Clark, he must have been a remarkable man. RIP.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 17 2016 23:11:16
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1541
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to jshelton5040

John--
Please tell us who the fellow who got you started in guitar making was. Thanks.

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Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 18 2016 0:02:55
 
Leñador

Posts: 5237
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

My condolences Stephen, very sad.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 18 2016 1:12:54
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to constructordeguitarras

quote:

ORIGINAL: constructordeguitarras

John--
Please tell us who the fellow who got you started in guitar making was. Thanks.

He was an architect with a giant brain. Never stopped studying and learning new things.

He came to me for flamenco guitar lessons in the early 60's, we became friends and he suggested we build a couple of guitars for ourselves. He had already built several and showed me the ropes. We spent a lot of time hanging around cabinet shops, gunstock makers, pattern makers, hardwood vendors, etc. trying to buy guitar wood and ivory which was much less scarce in those days.

We were drinking buddies, guitar players and motorcycle riding lunatics for many years.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 18 2016 14:39:42
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to BarkellWH

quote:

I had not heard of Eugene Clark before you mentioned his passing. Nevertheless, I'm sorry to hear it, particularly as you say he had some influence on you.

I looked him up among luthiers, however, and in several bios he is described as an "old school Spanish guitar maker." What does that mean, particularly with reference to Mr. Clark? How is "old school" different from other luthiers? Better craftsmanship? More attention to detail?

Thanks in advance.

Bill


Bill,

Not sure what old school means or what context they are using in. Gene made guitars and taught the way guitars are made in Spain. His depth of knowledge centered on the Madrid and Andalucia schools of thought on guitar making. I would call it tradition or straight ahead guitar making, all of it the foundation of anything that is a later variation.

He was also of his own time and worked with ideas like the bracing themes of Bouchet and others. He drew the line at ideas like elevated finger boards and the Smallman concept of lattice bracing. None of it really interested him, although he had the technical prowess and curiosity to have made any kind of guitar he wished. His love was for flamenco guitars above all, and that format was set a long time ago. It this respect he's not that unusual, many current builders are not interested in double tops, lattice bracing etc.but I see a traditionalists outlook "old school" in either a positive or pejorative way.

Eugene began in the late fifties and by the 1960-62 had learned enough to begin doing repair work on Spanish guitars that were coming to the Bay Area direct from Spain when players would bring them back to the US. Right from the start he was hands on with guitars by Barbero, Domingo Esteso, Santos, de la Chica etc and this made a big impression on him. He saw this Spanish work early on while guitars by those makers were still in circulation as working instruments. He drew his own plans from them and copied, and worked as much as possible to make guitars like these important makers' works.

His story is quite long, he lived in NYC for a while building and servicing guitars in that scene. He took his drawings and ideas, taught an passed on methods. He was known as "Clean Gene" or "Gene the Dean" because his work was so tight and well crafted. He influenced many makers and was admired by the the likes of Michael Guirian and Thomas Humphrey. He really never got enough credit for how high he set the bar for high level work in that NYC scene or for how much his level of craft was aspired to. Thomas Humphrey told Gene some years later when the met again the reason he was able to make it in NY was because Gene left town ans moved back to CA. Probably a jest, but with a some truth in it.

His work has an uncanny and unusual sense of proportion, grace in line and beautiful ratio, all the while being firmly rooted in Spanish work. Antonio Marin the Granada maker saw a guitar of Gene's and send back a message via the American owner the guitar- As good as it gets. Spanish.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 18 2016 16:07:48
 
nhills

Posts: 230
Joined: Jul. 13 2003
From: West Des Moines, IA USA

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

Hi!
Gene Clark wrote a number of articles for and participated in a number of forums reported in American Lutherie from GAL. He influenced a number of makers, including Brian Burns; the following video (toward the end) shows an interesting trick Brian learned from Clark:



Unfortunately, I never met him.
Cheers,
Norman

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 18 2016 17:31:59
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3219
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

Sorry to hear it, Stephen. I know he was an important fgure in your life, and in the lives of many others.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 18 2016 18:58:45
 
mark indigo

 

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[Deleted] 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 18 2016 19:27:52
 
Escribano

Posts: 6322
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to jshelton5040

quote:

We were drinking buddies, guitar players and motorcycle riding lunatics for many years.




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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 18 2016 20:42:15
 
Peter Tsiorba

Posts: 130
Joined: Oct. 27 2009
From: Portland, Oregon Pacific Northwest

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

I had a chance to visit Gene Clark's shop with Ervin Somogyi, during one of the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL) conventions, and spent some time with Gene and luthier John Park (British Columbia) discussing lutherie around the convention events.

One of the things Gene was known for were his strong feelings about the proportions of the guitar. I also recall him saying that guitars were not measured in metric measurements. "You gotta put the right rule on it". His articles on rosettes have been very helpful to me, as I am sure to many other luthiers.

I recall a couple of nearly finished guitars at his shop, which were both very beautiful. I pause to say good bye to Gene Clark. I'm glad I met him.

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Classical-Flamenco-Guitars
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 20 2016 2:53:41
 
Tom Blackshear

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 21 2016 22:07:59
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: The passing of Eugene Clark (in reply to estebanana

Peter, Tom, Thanks for your comments about Eugene. I understand.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2016 8:06:32
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