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In Memoriam: John Weissenrieder (1964-2017)
by Andrea Tacchi
My friend John Weissenrieder and I had the pleasure of knowing each other, as well as time spent working together and later, harvesting the work of those years. And now – unexpectedly and with great sadness – the time has come for me to share some of my memories of John and the work we did together on guitars.
Here’s Andrea Gonzalez Caballero playing Manuel de Falla’s Danza del Molinero on a great 2014 Pepe Romero Jr. redwood and Indian rosewood classical. Pepe has made very few redwood guitars, and this one has a beautiful clarity to it, reminiscent of the Miguel Rodriguez redwood guitars. Like all of Pepe’s recent guitars, this one features his reverse-fan bracing system and a brass nut.
Andrea De Vitis (Rome, 1985) graduated with full marks from the Morlacchi Conservatory in Perugia, Italy, where he studied under Leonardo De Angelis. He continued his studies at the Segovia Guitar Academy in Pordenone, Italy with Paolo Pegoraro and Adriano Del Sal. There, he attended masterclasses with Oscar Ghiglia, Carlo Marchione, Arturo Tallini, Pavel Steidl, Frédéric Zigante, Carles Trepat and Piero Bonaguri among others.
Here’s Andrea de Vitis playing another piece by Johann Kaspar Mertz, An Malvina, on a stunning 2017 Sebastian Stenzel spruce and maple guitar that features what Stenzel himself described as “the most labor intensive purfling” he’s ever made for a guitar. You can read more about the process of making this guitar here.
Andrea de Vitis has been winning competitions all over the world these past few years (too many to list!), so we were very glad to have come in to record some pieces for us recently. Here he is playing Johann Kaspar Mertz’s Scherzo on a stunning 1989 Miguel Rodriguez cedar and CSA rosewood that shows why these guitars are so prized by players and collectors alike.
Andrea Tacchi was born in Florence, Italy in 1956 into a deeply-rooted Florentine family with a rich artisan heritage in both jewelry-making and wood-working. At a young age, he took interest in creating musical instruments, building his first guitar at age 15. While at university studying mechanical engineering, he met and began an apprenticeship with Argentinian luthier Ricardo Brané, ultimately leaving university to pursue a career as a professional luthier. After Brané’s death, Tacchi traveled extensively to Spain, England, France, and the United States to study with the top masters of the day; in 1981 he went to Spain to meet with Paulino Bernabe Sr., José Ramírez III and Francisco & Gabriel Fleta to get their critical opinions and advice on his development as a guitar maker. He also traveled twice to England to consult with José Romanillos. The most important of these meetings however took place over several trips throughout the 1980s to France where he was able to receive advice and encouragement from both Robert Bouchet and Daniel Friederich in their workshops. To read more about Tacchi’s experiences in Paris click here.
Italian luthier Andrea Tacchi sent us some beautiful videos of the construction process shot by his son Giovanni Tacchi, accompanied by the playing of guitarist Flavio Cucchi. [The video is so lovely that I asked Andrea if his son was a filmmaker, but learned that Giovanni is learning guitar making from his father when away from school and is also a competitive kayaker who has competed with the Italian National team.] We are extremely pleased to announce that Tacchi has started work on a guitar for GSI which will hopefully be completed in 2015. Continue Reading
In 1980, I journeyed to Paris for the first time in my life, for a full week. This was an adventure I undertook to meet the great Parisian luthiers, and generally take in the guitar culture of this thriving city. This initial experience led to my traveling regularly there for many years afterwards. Before I continue with the highlights and some details of these experiences, I must first mention a little of the process required in advance of the journey.
In Paris, in the heart of Faubourg St. Antoine (the district traditionally populated by wood workers and highly skilled cabinet-makers), passing through a courtyard one finds the atelier of luthier Daniel Friederich. The large workshop, composed of a few rooms, is full of wood, a realm of silence. The high windows, which don’t face the street, have curtains situated in such a way that the even light diffuses following the rules with which the maestro has organized the whole studio. Everything appears arranged so as to minimize any possible distractions: the position of the workbenches, lighting, and above all, the optimal location of tools. No unnecessary loss of energy, especially mental.