Jose Romanillos "La Aldea"
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José Luis Romanillos Vega was born in Madrid in 1932 and at thirteen years of age was apprenticed to a Madrid cabinetmaking firm. In 1956 he moved to England to work in a hospital in Epsom and a few months later to a hospital in London. Five years later he made his first Spanish guitar in London. In 1970 he set up a workshop as a guitar maker in the village of Semley, Wiltshire, encouraged by the English guitarist Julian Bream, and it was here that he built the legendary 1973 guitar that Julian Bream would concertize and record on for many years. Romanillos guitars have received recognition from guitarists at an international level including Carlos Bonell, Gilbert Biberian and Antigoni Goni, among many others. The British 'Daily Mail' has called him "the Stradivari of the guitar" and the Italian magazine 'Sei Corde' "the most important living stringed instrument maker". In 1995 he retired from full-time guitar building and moved to Guijosa, Spain - a rural district annexed to Sigüenza, in the northern part of the province of Guadalajara. He has published several important books, including the biography and study of Antonio de Torres as well as a Dictionary of stringed musical instrument makers and guitar makers of Spain titled "The Vihuela de Mano and the Spanish Guitar". He has also famously and tirelessly given courses and lectures on Spanish guitar making in numerous countries.
This instrument has all the qualities of an exceptional Romanillos - in short, a sweet and lyrical tone with excellent separation. The volume is excellent and yet it's almost "noiseless" - string noise and nail noise are absorbed and not amplified, allowing the notes themselves to sound unhindered. All in all, this is a remarkable musical instrument. The guitar has the classic Romanillos aesthetic - the Moorish arches in the headshape and in the mosaic of the rosette. Although a "full-sized" concert instrument, the body proportions a bit more compact, reminiscent of the classic large-sized "Torres" and early Hauser I styles, of which Romanillos is perhaps the greatest champion. Condition is excellent, with no repairs and original finish with only some normal signs of playing wear. Suitable for either performer or collector, a masterpiece from one of the top luthiers of the 20th century.
Orfeo article on Jose Romanillos