Delicately balancing tone and structural integrity, each instrument is crafted with meticulous attention to detail. Using only the highest quality materials available, traditional methods, and hand tools, every instrument I build is unique and individual. I spent a number of years under apprenticeship to internationally renowned guitar maker Sergei de Jonge and can consequentially trace my pedagogical roots back to such historical figures as Marcello Barbero and Jose Ramirez. Generous with the wisdom he has gleaned from years in the art, truly inspirational are about the only words that suit Sergei,and I am very honoured and eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him.
With a background in classical music and orchestral stringed instruments, I was a youth that exhibited a significant affinity for music. I began studying the violin at the age of three and from that point on it became the focus of my childhood. It is likely safe to say that amongst my peers I was the only twelve year old with a favourite recording of Bach’s “Violin Sonatas and Partitas”. This study of music eventually led me to join a performance group and for a number of years toured internationally. Eventually, I found my way to post secondary education and studied: philosophy, literature, poetry, and art history. I draw a lot of inspiration for my instruments from great artists of the past and much of my design aesthetic has its foundation in artistic paradigm. During my early twenties I discovered the classical guitar and it has become my predominant muse.
I generally use one of three top bracing patterns: a traditional Torres inspired fan, an all wood lattice, or my own adaptation of a fan bracing. The pattern is selected based on the desired tonal palette of the instrument. Regardless of the bracing pattern my instruments aim to provide a powerful projection, clear note distinction, and balance between the strings.
Every instrument receives my undivided attention and as a guitar maker I concern myself with the playability, ergonomics, and intonation of the instrument. Every neck is hand carved and shaped till perfection, each fret carefully worked to allow ease of playability, and every string properly compensated to ensure proper intonation. My goal is to inspire the player and provide the artist with the medium to express themselves unencumbered and to their fullest potential.
Though most of my techniques and construction philosophy are rooted in the past, I do employ several “modern” techniques. During the initial selection of the top and back I use modern methods to collect data regarding the physical characteristics of the medium which guarantees that all of my material meet my exceptionally high standard and gives me some insight to how to maximize the sonic potential of each individual piece. I use a signal generator to observe the vibrations of the free plates (both unbraced and braced) and of the assembled instrument, thus helping me to determine if each element of the instrument is resonating at its fullest potential and allows me to make subtle changes toward that goal. The sound of a guitar can be described as the synergy between its vibrating parts so studying the vibrations and resonance of the instrument ensures that the instrument is reaching its fullest potential. Regardless of all of the technology and quantitative data, the final determination of the sound of the instrument is based on the choices I make using experience, energy, and intuition to guide my hands.
My attention to all of the small details in the instrument requires time and consequently I have a very limited yearly production. My instruments are a reflection of my passion and I am grateful to those who appreciate the fine and meticulous nature of the craft. Each instrument I build involves thoughtful design and an infinite capacity for taking artistic pains to achieve a true concert guitar.
B&W photos courtesy of Noémie Letu