In my previous post I mentioned a story about Antonio de Torres on his deathbed, and while I had heard the story from various luthiers, Sebastian Stenzel was good enough (and informed enough) to point me to the actual quote and its source. (The photo is of Sebastian using his thumbs and forefingers in the way Torres was describing).


[…] Once I asked him [Torres] what was the basis for the sonority of his guitars and he replied: only in the soundboard, for the condition of the wood, the working of it and its form were the secret of the sonority. […]


[…] and after the meal the subject of the guitar was raised. Father Garzon, victim of the opinion that was going around at that time, had to ask him:”Don Antonio, you ought not go to your grave without leaving to posterity, without revealing the secret of your guitars” and looking at us, smilingly [Torres] responded: “Father, I am very sorry that a man like you also falls victim of that idea that runs among ignorant people. Juanito” (that is how he addressed me) “has been witness to the secret many times, but it is impossible for me to leave the secret behind for posterity; this will go to the tomb with me for it is the result of the feel of the tips of the thumb and forefinger communicating to my intellect whether the soundboard is properly worked out to correspond with the guitar maker’s concept and sound required of the instrument.’ […]

Juan Martínez Sirvent quoting Torres in a letter, published in an edited version in “Tarrega” by Emilio Pujol. Translation by José L. Romanillos in his book “Antonio de Torres, Guitar Maker – His Life and Work”

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4 Responses to “What Torres Really Said”

  1. LAWRENCE says:

    Tell us something we don’t know .We already knew all this .Any decent luthier knows that one must “feel ” the wood .It is not breaking news nor any great secret .Give us a break .

  2. Howard says:

    No estoy de acuerdo con el Sr. Lawrence. When we have heard a piece of wisdom many times, usually that’s because someone wiser than we figured it out a long time ago and because many others since have found it worth repeating. Hearing the words more-or-less direct from a giant’s mouth is always worthwhile. Así pienso yo, al menos….

  3. Abby says:

    Well said Howard.

  4. LAWRENCE says:

    I am sorry to disillusion y’all .Torres did not know anything more than every other luthier instinctively knows . The way people talk ,one would get the mistaken impression that only Torres knew some wonderful secret which is absolutely not the case.Every experienced guitar maker feels and examines the wood ,especially the tops ,thicknesses etc . This is basic and not anything out of the ordinary and what Torres knew regarding guitar making was certainly not unique to him .What Torres described is rudimentary .


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