In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the foundation of his workshop in 1996, German guitar maker Sebastian Stenzel has made a singular, very special guitar, which we are proud to be able to offer soon. This guitar is at the same time the first of his “Exclusive Collection”, a line of guitars featuring very special, rare woods, high end tuners, and – if special ordered – elaborate purflings.
The soundboard: cut from a cedar tree that had died in a fire sometime around 1930, but kept standing upright in the forest. A guitar Stenzel had made for us some years ago 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: resawn from flamed sorb tree wood (sorbus domestica), which Stenzel sometimes calls the “European rosewood”, because its sound properties are very similar to those of Cocobolo (dalbergia retusa), which some guitar makers consider to be the best possible wood for back and sides. Endemic to central Europe, the sorb tree, also called whitty pear, yields the most precious wood of Europe 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 extremely 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.
Fingerboard and neck: 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.
Varnish: Authentic, traditional French Polish made after his own recipes and one Stenzel has bought from Zweihorn in collaboration with Dutch guitar maker Otto Vowinkel. The neck is not French-polished, but varnished with wear-resistant hard oil based on linseed oil, giving a matte surface with a lovely touch.
Tuners: Klaus-Scheller-tuners with snakewood buttons and ball-bearing rollers from buffalo horn.
A second, not directly visible label shows “20th anniversity” and “No. 1 Exclusive Collection” The guitar comes with a certificate signed by Stenzel.
Most important, the sound: We have not heard this guitar yet, but we have this from Stenzel: “The improved bracing gives it more of everything: more responsiveness, greater dynamic range, even better balance, more sustain. 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 (the resonance of the body cavity is 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.”
photos by Paul Jaroslawski
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