Joined: Aug. 18 2018
My Luthier Selection Process and Exp...
Sorry for the long post…..but just want to describe my experience with the objective of:
1- Helping prospects who are as confused as I was when selecting a Luthier
2- Praising Luthiers for their outstanding work and hopefully help a bit in understanding a prospect/customer’s thoughts….with my only hope of keeping and growing this extraordinary craft of Lutherie.
3- Sharing a happy place with fellow musicians who admire Lutherie and music. I am not a professional and most of my friends/family are not musicians…so the FORO is a great place to learn, enjoy, and share my passion for flamenco.
First of all, I want to thank the FORO since it helped tremendously in my Luthier research. Although it made it easier to streamline to great flamenco Luthiers, it was also VERY hard to choose!! There are so many good luthiers in the world, and especially here in the FORO, that is was very tough indeed to choose one versus the other….so I chose two .
So after lots of research….I ended up commissioning an Anders blanca (currently in process!!) and a Peter Tsiorba negra!! I will focus more on this post on my Negra since I just picked it up last week!!
I had two important personal milestones this year and so I wanted two custom Flamenco guitars (Blanca and Negra). In January I went to Spain and my plan was to get it commissioned there. However, I started to do research in December and a few things steered my decision:
1- I found the FORO!,
2- The best and/or more famous luthiers in Spain can be more expensive than amazing flamenco luthiers outside of spain, and/or,
3- I wanted a “one man shop”/artist/passionate-crafter instead of a workshop or factory, and,
4- I needed to see their work since I live in Puerto Rico and I could not find luthier flamenco guitars here….so I had to trust my research and gut: websites, youtube, Facebook, blog posts, reviews, etc…
1- Anders Blanca – I wanted a traditional blanca but something different in design, something unique. Many blancas out there look all the same (no disrespect), and although the sound and playability is the most important thing, once the sound is there (which it definitely seems so with Anders) I wanted something more modern and unique…..and Anders’ caught my eye:
a. Awesome headstock,
b. Beautiful/Different/modern/natural olive wood mosaic rosette and tieblock,
c. simple slick bindings and purflings, and,
d. cool soundport.
We discussed all the elements of the guitar and it was very hard for me to make modifications to his Blanca since I fell in love with every aspect. So, he’s working on it right now (#139) and I can’t wait to get it soon!! I will post photos once I get it…
2 - Tsiorba Negra – With Peter we took an entirely different route….every single item was totally customized!! I chose Peter because it seemed that he had worked with different woods, traditional vs. modern elements, beautiful headstock, excellent reviews and seemed (in the videos) like a great person who truly loves his craft….and am EXTREMELY happy with the process, person, design and product results!!
e. Soundboard – Spruce and natural shellac, as white as possible…I wanted the woods to show their natural states, as much as possible
f. B&S Wood – I wanted a non-Rosewood negra. I wanted a more striking wood but maintaining the flamenco sound. We ended up with Ziricote and he made it surpisingly light! I believe it is around 1320g.
g. Bindings and Purflings – ebony bindings and single line 1mm maple purflings, We wanted to keep them simple for the Ziricote to shine. On the top, a single cedar line just as a subtle highlight, and matches the cedar line in the tieblock/rosette.
h. Rosette and tieblock– I wanted a non-traditional natural wood rosette. I liked a few of his designs but we went back and forth until he got it perfectly! I wanted something that would look striking both from a distance and up close. Traditional mosaics can be amazing up close but the art/beauty cannot be appreciated from a distance (on many, not all). I really love how the “ropes” create a “rough edge” effect from a distance since we had them flush with the thick ebony inner/outer rims instead of adding more lines in between…..also, the “rope” is not completely symmetrical and thicker than usual which creates a cool effect
i. Personal logo – I made up the logo at the heel cap for this guitar and it has become my family’s logo…so this is very special to me (it has a J, a P, and two C’s). We thought of doing it as a soundport but it would be too brittle, so Peter recommended the heelcap. It is made from bone and .5inch in diameter….only a laser or a Jeweler could have made it better, but I actually like the “rough” look and even better the fact that Peter went to such extreme to cut and incorporate this personal item.
j. Headstock – we didn’t want to take away the spotlight of the the Ziricote, logo, and rosette so we decided to continue the fingerboard and go with ebony for the headstock, black knobs and black rollers (Sloane, super smooth!)…plus I love his headstock design, so wanted the shape to pop up and not get distracted with more details.
k. Sound/playability – blown away. Super light for a negra, comfortable, loud, flamenco growl, but subtle when looking for soft clean notes. I have not played many luthier flamenco guitars, but I do have a couple and Peter’s blow them away, I can feel the entire top and B&S come alive with every note, amazing.
l. Experience –Commissioning this custom guitar has been a treat and Peter was amazing! He was accommodating but at the same time I wanted to respect the sound and his art. Whenever he was not sold 100% on an idea, he would speak up and viceversa. He’s a great photographer so the updates were of amazing quality. Peter is a great guy and dealing with him was a delight, so I wanted to end the process by going to Portland to visit his shop and pick up the guitar in person. I am truly humbled for owning such a fine instrument which I will cherish forever and thank Peter for this amazing experience.
Again, this decision was extremely difficult and I wish I could have a guitar from all of the member luthiers. Thanks so much for your craft, your videos, your websites, and for the FORO. There are very few material things in life that really fulfill a soul on the long-run as an instrument does and Luthiers definitely provide a happier place to us musicians/afficionados….thanks again for your craft.
Soooo…..here are some photos. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
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