It’s a little weird to find myself asking things like ‘which Hauser I is that?’, but one of the very cool things about working at GSI is just the sheer amount of crazy guitars I get to see and play and hear played by great players. This year saw some particularly historic guitars come through and land in the hands of players and collectors, and it was very fun to have them here for a minute and get to do videos in many cases. Some of the highlights from this year include: a 1952 Hermann Hauser I, which may well have been the last guitar Hauser ever made. Eva Beneke fell in love with the guitar when she recorded it for us and we are arranging for her to be able to record a CD on it, which we will help her produce; a 1923 Domingo Esteso (that’s in the photo here) that blew us all away; a 1967 Arcangel Fernandez that had belonged to Fred Noad; and actually quite a few beautiful Miguel Rodriguez guitars.
On a personal note, I discovered a maker I had only ever heard of, Manuel De La Chica, and found what turns out to be one of the best guitars I’ve ever played (you know, for my taste, my hands etc…), so I felt pretty lucky to be able to get my hands on that one from 1962.
We were also able to get guitars this year from some of the living legends, like Manuel Reyes, Daniel Friederich, Dominique Field and Edmund Blochinger. Friederich even turned us on to some great makers whose work we hadn’t been so familiar with – Jean-Noel Rohe and Thomas Norwood – and whom we now proudly represent in the US.
David and I went to Moscow, and we got to meet the movers in the Russian guitar-making scene, and I got to go back to Granada and Madrid to check in with some of our friends there, like Teodoro Perez and Rafa Moreno, and I got to meet Graciliano Perez from Cordoba, who is sending us two guitars in January and whose guitars are being played by a lot of great players in Spain, including Vicente Amigo. I thought Graciliano’s flamencos were amazing and I ordered one for myself, which puts me at my guitar limit (or above) for the foreseeable future.
On a very sad note, we lost a great friend, builder and innovator in Pablo Contreras (better known as Manuel Contreras II). It’s gratifying to know that Jose Antonio Lagunar, shop foreman at Contreras for over 20 years, will continue the tradition and the Contreras name, and I got to spend some time with Jose Antonio and Victoria, who ran the store in Madrid, when I was there.
Of course there are also tons of surprises – not every great guitar was built by a legendary 70-year-old maker – and after the thrill of playing an 1890 Torres or a 1969 Reyes one of my favorite things is discovering great guitars I hadn’t known or whose makers are just starting out (though ‘just starting out’ is relative), and as a player I always get excited about awesome guitars that someone like me might be able to buy, like Erez Perelman’s guitars or Juan Fernandez from Granada.
I’m kind of trying to wrap this up, but I realize I can’t. The guitars just keep coming….
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