In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of his workshop in 1996, German guitar maker Sebastian Stenzel
has made a unique guitar, which we are proud to offer here. This guitar is the first of his "Exclusive Collection", a line of guitars featuring very special, rare woods, high end tuners, and - if suitable - elaborate purflings. A second label inside the guitar shows "20th anniversary" and "No. 1 Exclusive Collection". The guitar comes with a certificate signed by Stenzel.
The soundboard was cut from a cedar tree
that had died in a fire sometime around 1930 in British Columbia, Canada, but kept standing upright in the forest. When Sebastian planed it, he says it felt "creamy", yet also remarked that it was the stiffest cedar he had ever worked with. Its dark brown color is all natural, Sebastian used completely paled shellac with no added color. A guitar Stenzel had made for us in 2011 with the same cedar
inspired lyricist Bruce Bond to write his poem "Homage to Sebastian Stenzel"
, published in his book "Choir of the Wells" in 2013. A copy of this book will accompany this guitar. This soundboard is also the first in which Stenzel has implemented an improvement of his (traditional) bracing system, by which he has introduced a new dimension of asymmetry in the bracing. Back and sides are resawn from flamed sorb tree wood (sorbus domestica), which Stenzel sometimes calls "European rosewood" because its sound properties are very similar to those of Cocobolo (dalbergia retusa), which some guitar makers consider to be the best wood for back and sides of all. Endemic to central Europe, the sorb tree, also called "Whitty Pear", is one of the most precious of European woods, and is extremely rare. An evenly flamed trunk like the one these back and sides come from is even more rare. Sorb tree wood has high density and is extremly stable, yet very flexible. For Stenzel, it has an almost magical, awe-inspiring quality that gives him a sense of heightened alertness and respect every time he works with it. As with all Stenzel guitars, this too features his "double-twisted" fingerboard worked after the Frisch/Stenzel method, which gives the best possible playability and intonation (for equal temperament and with parallel frets). The neck profile is slightly asymmetrical towards the body of the guitar, giving better accessibility to the higher frets. Tuners are Scheller with snakewood buttons and ball-bearing rollers from buffalo horn.
Soundwise, its emphasis is on radiance and balance, a pure concert guitar with long sustain. The improved bracing gives it more responsiveness and greater dynamic range. The attack is very fast without being percussive. The sound is very open and free, the trebles lyrical yet clear and so strong that they keep up effortlessly with the enormous bass (resonance of the body cavity near F sharp). The bass is so rich in overtones that in combination with the long sustain, a cathedral sound quality can easily be produced. It is also an extremely lightweight guitar, making it as lively as a flamenco but with a rich, bold classical tone. For aesthetic and tonal qualities, this is a first-rate concert instrument.
Luthier Bio: Sebastian Stenzel