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23 May 2023

Darragh O'Connell, The First-Prize Winner Of The Antonio Marin Montero Competition, Builds A New Guitar For GSI.


Swiss luthier, Darragh O'Connell, has shared with us some sneak peek photos of his newest instrument that he built for GSI. Darragh is the first-prize winner from the prestigious 3rd Antonio Marin Montero Guitar Building Competition in Granada, Spain, and this guitar was built to the same specifications as the instrument that won the competition in Granada.

Darragh was born in Sion, Switzerland in 1984. He grew up in a small village in the Alps surrounded by a spruce forest that he treated as his second home. Since a very young age, he’s always had a great interest in nature and woodworking. When Darragh was 17, he developed his passion for classical guitar through contact with guitarists whom he met during his trip to Latin America. This motivated him to learn how to play the guitar. Once back in Switzerland, he realized that he wants to be a professional classical guitar builder. However, learning lutherie in Switzerland was challenging since it was difficult to find a teacher there. Therefore, he followed the advice of a luthier and began his journey with solid 4-year training in cabinetmaking (eventually, he also became a teacher of cabinetmaking). The turning point came in 2013 when he met Dieter Hillewaere, a Belgian luthier who moved to the area where Darragh lived. In his workshop, he rediscovered his passion for the profession that always fascinated him. He learned from him about a musical instrument building school, the CMB, in Puurs – a small village in Flanders, Belgium. Over there he found excellent training which started in 2015. Darragh was fortunate to learn for 4 years under the tutelage of great luthiers such as Karel Dedain and Walter Verreydt. They introduced him to the traditional Spanish construction methods with an open mind to other techniques. This allowed him to build guitars of very high quality very quickly. Additionally, Darragh was also exposed to many historical guitars that he was able to learn from. He made copies of masters such as Torres, Robert Bouchet, and Daniel Friederich. During his apprenticeship, Darragh was able to quickly set up his own workshop and accept first orders. In 2019 he officially completed his training and decided to participate in the prestigious Antonio Marin Montero Guitar Making Competition in Granada, where he won the first prize. In 2020, Darragh opened a workshop in Brussels. In his daily practice, he pays attention to every detail in order to build a great instrument in terms of quality, playing comfort, sound, and aesthetics. 

Check out the photos below, and don't hesitate to reach out to us with questions!



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