Ben Pila is a guitarist I’ve been hearing about for years but had never managed to meet or have in for videos. We finally caught up last time he was in Los Angeles and he recorded some great pieces for us, including a really fun arrangement we’ll be publishing soon. Here he is playing Roland Dyens’ arrangement of Angel Villoldo’s classic El Choclo on a new Teodoro Perez ’50th Anniversary’ in cedar and CSA rosewood – one of a total of only ten Perez will make.
We have photos of the two new guitars on their way to us from Guitarreria Contreras in Madrid – a beautiful N-2 in Ziricote and spruce and an N-3 model in Indian rosewood and cedar. As you can see, the guitars are all finished and ready to go, so they should be here very soon. In the meantime here’s Tavi Jinariu playing ‘Preludio de Adios’ by Alfonso Montes on N-2 in ziricote and spruce just like the one coming in.
Tina Karen Lo is a classical guitarist and native of Hong Kong, but she has some serious California roots – she studied with George Sakellariou while she was attending San Domenico School in Marin County and later graduated from USC where she studied with Pepe Romero, Jim Smith and Tom Gaab. Tina has played all over the world, and when she was last in Los Angeles she stopped by to record a few videos for us. Here she is playing Rodrigo’s Zapateado on a great 2007 Pepe Romero Jr. maple and cedar guitar.
We have photos of the new guitar being made for us by German luthier Annette Stephany. Like the last guitar we had from her, this one is very much inspired by the 1906 Enrique Garcia owned by her mentor, Lorenzo Frignani, but where the previous guitar had rosewood back and sides the guitar she is currently making has maple back and sides, and a spruce top. And since Halloween is coming up, we thought we’d throw in George Sakellariou playing his and Lawrence Long’s great transciption of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor on a 2013 Stephany – Enjoy!
Today is Roland Dyens’ birthday, so it seemed like a perfect time to publish some video we have of him playing a concert at GSI with a very historic guitar. The guitar is a 1947 Robert Bouchet, the second guitar Bouchet ever built and the first he ever sold (he kept the first guitar, as he had made it for himself). This guitar can rightly be said to have launched the French school of luthiery, which would go on to include such figures as Daniel Friederich, Dominique Field and now the current generation of young French luthiers like Jean-Noel Rohe and Bertrand Ligier.
In the first video GSI president David Collett gives us a brief history of the guitar (including a great photo, taken the year Dyens was born, of the guitar being played by Friederich while sitting next to Joseph Reinhardt, Django’s brother), then Dyens plays Sor’s Le Calme. In the second video Dyen’s plays his arrangement of Django Reinhardt’s Nuages, and in the third he plays his new arrangement of Piazzolla’s Oblivion.
Huge thanks to the guys at AEA (RibbonMics.com) for lending us their N22 and N8 microphones for this concert!
We have another video from Ken Meyer and Steve Thachuk – the Meyer Thachuk Duo – this time playing Llobet’s arrangement of Enrique Granados’ Spanish Dance No. 6. Ken is playing a 2016 Sakurai-Kohno ‘Professional-J’ spruce and Steve is playing a 2012 Yuichi Imai ‘Limited’ cedar that we just flipped the strings on (it’s not specifically a lefty guitar).
S. Korean guitarist Kang Min Ji is just 10 years old and had already been playing for about five years. He was in Los Angeles this Summer to study with our friend Jack Sanders, who thought we might want to meet him. He played the Prelude from Bach’s Lute Suite BWV 1006a, which he had just learned this Summer, on an Asturias ‘Comfort’, which has a 630mm scale length, making it a great choice for players with small hands who want a full-sized guitar.
The Bihać Summer Guitar Workshop (June 24-25, 2016) is a two-day event set in the town of Bihać, which is located on the banks of the river Una, looking towards the beautiful mountains of western Bosnia and Herzegovina. The workshop is open to anyone who wants to participate, and this year it included two days of group classes, private lessons, and three evening concerts, including a student concert on the final day of the workshop. All classes take place at the “High School for the Arts” located in downtown Bihać, while all the evening performances take place at the AVNOJ Museum hall adjacent to the school.
When luthier Pepe Romero told us about his new line of strings we had a lot of questions, starting with “why do we need another line of strings?” As it turns out, his father Pepe Romero Sr. had been nostalgic for the way strings used to feel and respond, and father and son had gone on a years-long quest to find out if they could make strings that felt like the older ones Pepe Sr. was missing. With the help of the folks at LaBella they spent more years designing what to them felt like strings that had the best of both worlds, i.e. that felt like older nylon strings but took advantage of today’s technology to make strings more consistent and predictable. Pepe Romero Strings are the result of their quest and we had father and son in to discuss the new line, which includes rectified sets in normal and hard tensions, a lighter set for vintage or flamenco guitars, a clear nylon set, a fluorocarbon set, and a set called the Pepe Sr. set made specifically to the demands of the maestro. Check out the discussions below and learn all you ever wanted to know about guitar strings!
We have photos of the new guitar on its way to us from Washington, D.C. based luthier Luis Fernandez de Cordoba – a beautiful walnut and spruce classical. Luis tells us he’s tensioned the top a little more asymmetrically than usual to bring out more clarity in the trebles and that he is very pleased with the balance. Luis strung up the guitar last week but decided a few extra days of curing for the French polish were in order, so it should be shipping to us some time this week.