The “Black River” is the first instrument in a limited-edition series of “Art Guitars” being built by Italian luthier Enrico Bottelli. This first guitar of the series was unveiled at the “Roma Expo Guitars 2018” in March of 2018. To learn more about Enrico’s thoughts on what inspired this breathtaking instrument, read below about the “Black River”.
Each guitar in this series is planned to be a unique creation, each one being significantly different from the next in the design work, making them all “one of a kind”. They will all of course retain Enrico’s very high standard of craftsmanship and design, but each will have a different aesthetic theme utilizing rich and unconventional decorative work that will nonetheless remain linked to the deeper classical guitar tradition of the past.
The intention behind these designs will be to display the full natural beauty of the woods used in the bindings, purflings, inlays and complex mosaic decorations. In this sense, these guitars take their inspiration and follow the sub-tradition of the highly-decorated guitars of the 19th and 20th centuries from such famous builders as Antonio de Torres (for example, “La Guitarra Cumbre” from 1958 – FE08) and Francisco Simplicio (his “el modernismo/art nouveau” guitars).
It has been said that a great guitar is the blending of art and engineering. With each guitar in this series, Enrico will be seeking to maximize both of these qualities to the full extent of his artistic vision.
Impressions from Enrico Bottelli
“In the summer of 2017, as I was visiting a colleague guitar maker, I saw this fantastic wood for the first time – Black and White Ebony (“Diospyros embryopteris”) from Laos. I was struck by its expressive force, beauty and aesthetic variety, so fascinating and evocative that its stunning streaks brought up from within my imagination the image of a streaming black river, hence the name of the guitar it inspired.
Immediately I thought of using this exotic material as a special decorative element in a guitar – specifically in the form of purfled sections, using small quantities of it surrounded by the dark density of the rosewood used for the sides and for the back. Additionally I decided to employ another idea (that I had pondered before) but only got around to using it for the first time in this guitar: the arched mosaics realized on the top with 11 different types of wood which follow one another as part of a definite color sequence with its own rhythm. The challenge was to try to harmonize both ideas: the classical geometry of the mosaics as traditionally used in guitar making, and the use of Black and White Ebony, less controllable and plannable, which however makes it possible to express the overwhelming beauty of nature.
I would like to thank my trainees and apprentices Antonio Marchese, Adriano Devoto , Daniele Marrabello, Davide Scacchi, Angelo Vailati and Ivan Bruna who helped with construction and also contributed to some of the aesthetic choices. Without them I would have been unable to finish the instrument and to present it at the Roma Export Guitars 2018.” – Enrico Bottelli
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