French luthier Jerome Casanova's
training and background is in guitar construction, however, he has recently focused primarily on restoration and preservation of antique instruments - a specialty for which he has received numerous awards. He builds three or four guitars each year, but the rest of his time is dedicated to repair work. He works on instruments made by famous makers such as Lambert, Renault and Chatelain, Lacote, Grobert, Martin, Salomon, Roudhloff, Friederich, Selmer, Maccaferri, Fabricatore, Vinnaccia, Pages, Santos Hernandez, Manuel/Jose Ramirez and Ignacio Fleta. He also repairs 1950s-70s American and European guitars such as Gibson, Martin, Fender, Framus, Eko, Hofner, Jacobacci and more.
This model that we have on offer here is the result of Jerome acquiring an original 1893 Vicente Arias (1833-1914) guitar several years ago. Among many collectors, Arias' work is often compared to Antonio de Torres by the quality of his lutherie. The famous performer and teacher Francisco Tárrega played on Arias as well as on instruments by Antonio de Torres and Enrique Garcia. After an extensive restoration job, Jerome became more and more enamored with the sound, weight, responsiveness and aesthetics of the original, and set a goal to produce a replica that would do justice to the original. Jerome mapped the dimensions, thicknesses and weights of the original in great detail, in the spirit of recreating the experience of the instrument from 1896 as closely as possible. His materials are aged by decades, turning machines are Alessi copies of the originals and finish is French polish.
This instrument does indeed sound just like an old Spanish guitar. It is shocking how lightly built it is and how easy and gracefully it plays - for both left and right hands. The sound is deep and very dark with sweet, singing trebles and full, punchy basses. It has great style aesthetically with bold green hues in the rosette, a bridge with a lip under the edge of the tie block, and a plantilla that looks more akin to a Martin "000" body than to a traditional Spanish guitar. Overall a very unique, rarified and seductive instrument for sound, appearance and background history.
See photos of the original 1893 Arias and read more about Jerome Casanova's experience building his replica.