Posts from ‘Product Spotlight’
When luthier Pepe Romero Jr. told us about his new line of strings we had a lot of questions, starting with “why do we need another line of strings?”. Turns out Pepe was able to develop his line of strings to fill missing niches that we didn’t even realize existed. His father, Pepe Romero Sr. shares his experience of the development and evolution of guitar strings from the time he was a boy playing on gut, to the first nylon set he’d ever seen (a set that the family shared for several years!) and beyond. One of the sets is even named the “Pepe Senior” set, since it accurately re-creates an old-style of nylon (smooth, with a slightly milky color in the otherwise clear nylon) that Pepe Senior was very fond of in the early years of nylon, but was discontinued suddenly over 40 years ago.
The full line of Pepe Romero Strings includes rectified sets in normal and hard tensions, a lighter set for vintage or flamenco guitars, a clear nylon set, a fluorocarbon set, and 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 this line of guitar strings as well as Pepe Sr.’s personal story of his experiences with strings over the course of his life and career.
Only the most rare and highly-reputed guitars from across eras of the past receive great attention to the extent that players, recording artists and collectors share a common language in expressing just how valuable a guitar is – not in a monetary sense, but in the way that particular guitar’s presence fills the room, in the way its presence inspires a player and in the way the character of the guitar is simply like none other encountered before. Such guitars that come to mind are very special in our books, for example: the famous Antonio de Torres “La leona” (see Fritz Ober’s replica), the 1927 Francisco Simplicio SP/CSAR and the 1957 Hermann Hauser II (ex. Julian Bream) to name very few. However, one very special guitar made an appearance in our showroom recently amongst a legendary, rare and astonishing collection, and it has received attention in ways we could not have imagined.
We wanted to take a minute to thank Apogee and AEA (Audio Engineering Associates) for all of their help recording the Cleveland Collection guitars. In addition to letting us use their Berkeley studio and the great gear there, Apogee have been letting us use one of their Ensemble interfaces. For the bulk of the GSI videos we use the Apogee Duet interface and mic pres (Andrew York’s Yamour video, below, is a great example of what the Duet can do), and the Ensemble gives us more channels and more mic pres in a unit not quite as portable as the Duet but perfect for a live rig and definitely a few steps up in terms of features.
For most of the GSI videos we use a pair of vintage Neumann km84’s, which are as close to industry-standard as it gets for recording guitars, but there’s something that happens with ribbon microphones that can be kind of magical, so it’s been amazing to be able to use some of the great AEA ribbon mics for Andrew York’s ‘Equations of Beauty’ shoot as well as some shoots with Scott Tennant and Billy Arcila (coming very soon). As you’ll hear, the ribbons capture what you might describe as the wood of the guitar in a unique and beautiful way. Their 44ce is an update of the classic RCA 44 – you’ll have seen Sinatra, Bing Crosby and thousands more singing through these in movies – which is still considered one of the best microphones ever made. Their N22 is a modern phantom-powered design that somehow feels like a combination of the best qualities of the 44 and the Neumann km84. Check out the Fret-X video below to hear the N22s through the Apogee Duet mic pres recording a guitar duo.
Also be sure to check out Andrew York’s new piece The Equations of Beauty, recorded at Apogee’s Berkeley Street studio with their flagship Symphony interface (recorded just before the new Mk2 Symphony was launched) with AEA’s 44ce and N22 microphones.
We’re very pleased to announce the release of Mak Grgić‘s CD Cinema Verismo, which we recorded right here in the GSI showroom. Mak worked closely with GSI president David Collett to find the perfect instruments for the pieces we recorded, and the result is a beautiful recording that showcases Mak’s musicianship as well as some beautiful and historic guitars.
Andrew York has just released Yamour – his new double CD – and it is a beautiful record of what he has been up to for the last six years or so. Andrew calls this CD a reflection of his journey through life as an artist, and says that his goal was to give his music “as if he was in your living room, amidst a background of pure silence”. You can buy Yamour here, and you can buy the sheet music directly from Andrew at his website here, where you can download and print immediately.
Last week Andrew came in to GSI and recorded quite a few videos, including many pieces from Yamour, on an amazing Antonio de Torres guitar. I won’t say more than that right now, but check back in the coming weeks to see some beautiful music played on a historic guitar that holds up impressively even with some modern music.
Scott Morris has just released ‘Phonology’, his book of arrangements for guitar of the music of Erik Satie. The book includes a CD of studio recordings of all the pieces done on French guitars provided by GSI by such makers as Robert Bouchet, Daniel Friederich, Dominique Field, Jean-Noel Rohe and Bertrand Ligier. There are also some guest artists on the CD, including Andrew York on guitar, soprano Nanette Gobel and oboist Richard Kravchak.
We just happen to have a great 1979 cedar Friederich at the moment (not the one Scott used on the CD), so Scott recorded Satie’s Nocturne No. 2 for us on it in the showroom.
For the past few months GSI has been tracking down the best French guitars we could get our hands on to help Scott Morris record his new CD of Satie arrangements called ‘Phonology’. In the end we found guitars by Daniel Friederich, Dominique Field, Jean-Noel Rohe, Bertrand Ligier and finally a fantastic 1956 Bouchet which Scott used to record Nocturne 3 (in the first video) and which Andrew York, Scott’s features guest on the CD, then played on a duet of the ‘Sonatine Bureaucratique’, while Scott played a 1971 Friederich (the second Friederich to appear on the CD).
The CD should be out in a few months, and Scott will also be publishing his arrangements.
Both videos here feature audio recorded and mixed by Erich Gobel – not the final mixes for the CD, but they should give you an idea. Erich also shot the video of Scott playing Nocturne 3 on that 1956 Bouchet – and yes, they’re poking some fun at pretentious cinematography, so don’t freak out.
We’ve just received a 1990 Daniel Friederich guitar that is in fantastic condition, with no cracks or repairs and only some mild playing wear. This is a beautiful example of Friederich’s work, and we couldn’t resist showing it off right away. We’ll have the full product listing up on the website on Feb. 1st.
We just got three new guitars in from Hermanos Camps in Spain. I had heard of them, but I don’t think had ever played one, and I was a little surprised by just how good they are, so I thought I’d write a little review.
There are three models – the Primera Blanca, the Primera Negra, and the Primera A (which has a slightly different soundboard, even nicer wood, a 20th fret and upgraded tuners) – but I think that what they have in common is actually more important than the differences between them.
Rafael Moreno Rodriguez‘s Sueño model (sueño means ‘dream’) has some of the most intense wood and inlay work you’re likely to see in a guitar. Apparently Rafa (everyone calls him Rafa, and I’ve known him for over 20 years so it’s hard to call him anything else) was inspired by a 19th century guitar made by Joaquin Ruiz which he had in his shop for repairs some time ago. Structurally the guitar is all Rafa, and the inlay work is pure fantasy (of the sort that not too many guitar makers can pull off).
This particular guitar belonged to our friend Vicente Coves, also of Granada. He toured extensively with it, recorded a CD for Naxos with it and shot his DVD of the Aranjuez for Spanish television on it. It’s also the actual guitar featured in the book Guitarreros de Andalucia (Luthiers from Andalucia) in the chapter about Moreno Rodriguez.
You should take a look at Felix’s amazing photos of the guitar here to get a really good idea of the workmanship, and below we have some photos of Vicente playing in front of the Alhambra and with the Naxos orchestra, as well as the pages from Guitarreros de Andalucia that talk about the guitar. We also have video of Vicente playing the Aranjuez with the Madrid Symphony Orchestra and the Premiere of Anna Muzychenko’s Rapsodia Andaluza with the Moscow Youth Symphony Orchestra at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow.
You can read more about Rafael Moreno Rodriguez here.