Archive for July, 2012
Here’s Marc Teicholz playing the final guitar from our ‘Valseana Live’ event – an exquisite 1867 Torres. The guitar is 145 years old and as far as most of us are concerned there aren’t many guitars, new or old, that can touch this. It’s kind of amazing that such a small guitar can sound so big after all these years. And while it’s hard to say how much of the experience has to do with knowing that you’re hearing a piece of history, almost everyone who hears this guitar (or other similarly preserved Torres guitars played by a great player) agrees that there’s something about them – the term ‘magical’ is used a lot. At any rate – you don’t get to hear these every day, so I hope you all enjoy Marc’s performance of some of Sergio Assad’s Brevidades and his Valseana movement from Aquarelle.
We have our first guitar coming from Granada luthier Juan Miguel Carmona. Juan Miguel is from Granada and part of the Carmona family that includes Pepe Habichuela, Juan Habichuela, Josemi Carmona and the Ketama guys, and he’s been making guitars in Granada for 40 years now. Our first guitar from him is a spruce and rosewood classical, and you can see photos here of the guitar being built in Granada. The second gallery of photos is of players playing Juan Miguel’s guitars, including Josemi Carmona, Juan Habichuela, Pepe Romero, Ramon de Algeciras (Paco de Lucia’s brother) and Sabicas. The videos are of our friend Vicente Coves in Juan Miguel’s shop in Granada trying out the guitar right after it was finished. The guitar should be here next week.
I’m in the process of using this photo for another blog post – about Juan Miguel Carmona who made the guitar Sabicas is playing in this photo – when I realized that this photo needed it’s own post. I’m not sure if it’s the smile on his face or the pants (and the whole ensemble, really, including the haircut), but I just love this photo.
Here’s Scott Morris with another video companion lesson from his book Classical Guitar Complete: From Basics to Bach, Volumes 1 & 2. In this lesson Scott uses Giuliani’s Etude 19 to look at slurs and at using scale patterns to help get around the guitar. Scott is playing a 1994 Antonio Marin.
Armenian-born guitarist Vahagni was at GSI last week to play some guitars, and as he had to make a video for his column in Fingerstyle 360, we decided to just shoot it at the showroom. So here he is playing a Bulerias falseta and then breaking it down for us on a great 1994 Jose Marin Plazuelo flamenco.
We’re very happy to announce that GSI is now the exclusive US representative of South Korean luthier Woon Sun Lee. Woon Sun built hundreds of student and concert guitars as an apprentice and established his own shop in 2009. We were first drawn to his fantastic woodworking skills, as you can see in the photos below, and were equally impressed by the sound of his guitars when we finally took delivery of our first instrument. We believe that Woon Sun has a very bright future as a luthier, and represents an outstanding value in a concert instrument. You can read woon Sun’s bio here, and you can see our first guitar from him here.
The photos below are of a rosewood guitar and a maple guitar of Woon Sun’s, and then of his workshop in what looks like a beautiful bit of the Korean countryside. Note the prodigious amount of wood that Woon Sun, like all good makers, has stockpiled.
Woon Sun Lee has been drawn to the classical guitar his entire life. Even so, he still had his “Eureka” moment, which came to him in his teens when he heard Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” in concert by Japanese guitarist Kazuhito Yamashita. This experience led him to decide he would devote his life and energy to the guitar somehow. For years he was a student of the guitar, and studied with the best teachers in in his area. After years of exploration, personal setback and family advice, it became clear that his calling was as a luthier. He initially took up an apprenticeship in Paju, a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea where he built hundreds of student and concert guitars – oftentimes working 7 days a week, with only an average of 5 hours sleep per night. It was at this time that he studied the structures of the Torres and Bouchet models and allowed these influences to penetrate into his own work. He spent a good deal of time doing restoration work on historical instruments during this period, which also added to his expanding knowledge base. After many years of apprenticeship, he set up shop on his own, in 2009 as an independent guitar maker.
Woon Sun’s style is understated, yet elegant and perfectly executed. A look firstly at the carpentry reveals a worker who understands craftsmanship at a very intimate level. From a woodworking point of view, he builds flawlessly made instruments. Some interesting details include an origami-lotus motif in the central band of the rosette – all wood is “long grain” which gives the rosette more “sparkle” in various lighting settings. Also his subtle use of maple in the tie block, central head veneer strip and throughout the purfling frames the guitar beautifully. A very tasteful and unique look in each of his instruments.
Overall, a very exciting and promising young maker whose work we are thrilled to be representing exclusively in the US.
Scott Morris recently published Volume 2 of his guitar method, Classical Guitar Complete – From Basics to Bach, so he stopped by to record a few companion videos. His first lesson deals with playing in various positions in order to get away from first position when that makes sense (and he goes into why it does often make sense), and he uses his piece ‘Where U At’, which is playable in five positions, to illustrate. Scott is playing a 1966 cedar-top Ramirez 1a in this video.
Ricardo Escobar was another of the Parkening International Guitar Competition competitors who stopped by the showroom during the competition. Ricardo studies at USC with Scott Tennant, William Kanengiser and Pepe Romero and is another young rising star in the guitar world. Ricardo plays Debussy’s ‘The Girl With The Flaxen Hair’ on a 2008 Tonias Berg.
Well, we’ve arrived at the final guitar from our celebration of Pepe Romero Jr.’s 200th. Guitar #200 has some pretty significant changes in the fretboard, neck angle and headstock – changes that were apparently requested by Celin Romero (and which Pepe Jr. explains in the video better than I can here). And since it’s the last guitar that Pepe Sr. played that evening he performed Celedonio Romero’s ‘Fantasia Cubana’ to close the event.
The event was held last year, but this seems like an appropriate place to once again thank Pepe Jr. and Pepe Sr. for putting together such a cool event and letting GSI host it.