Fructuoso Zalapa "Romanillos"
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Considered by many to be one of the finest guitar luthiers working in the Americas, Fructuoso Zalapa Luna was born in 1961 in the Town of Paracho, State of Michoacan, Mexico, into a family of skilled guitar makers where he began his apprenticeship at age 10. In his late teens he left for Spain where he spent several years studying with many renowned luthiers including Felix Manzanero and Manuel Cáceres. His studies continued in the late 1980's in Mexico City at the National Music Conservatory. Several awards for his instruments followed including First Prize for Construction of Concert Guitars in the National Competition for Guitar-Makers (in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 2002), a famous Mexican event of national scope held each year in Paracho. In 1993 Zalapa was awarded First Prize for his guitar-making in the National Competition for Handcrafts held by FONART, the Mexican government Agency for the Development of Arts and Handcrafts. The FONART prize is the most prestigious award for handcrafts in Mexico. That same year he was also awarded First Prize for Excellence in Handcrafts by the Mexican State of Michoacan in a competition held in the City of Uruapan. In 1995, Zalapa would win another prestigious First Prize for Excellence in Handcrafts, awarded this time by the State of Veracruz in a competition in the city of the same name. International recognition attracted the attention of none other than Jose Romanillos, and Zalapa's studies under Romanillos in 1995 led to Romanillos himself adding his own signature to the label of the guitar Zalapa made under his supervision because of its excellence and compliance with the exacting Romanillos standards. Despite all these accomplishments, Zalapa continued to seek out the advice and apprenticeship of yet other master builders from around the world. In 1996 he completed a course of instruction given by the renowned U. S. luthier Thomas Humphrey in Paracho and in 1997 journeyed once again to Spain, to study under the legendary Granada maker Antonio Raya Pardo. Truly a remarkably accomplished and experienced veteran of his craft, we are proud to be working with this very fine maker.
This model is a tribute to one of his previous teachers, Jose Romanillos. The structural elements such as bracing, doming, thicknessing, shape of plantilla, etc. are as "exact" (in Zalapa's words) as he can get to a Romanillos guitar he was able to study during his time with Romanillos. The aesthetic details, most notabley in the head shape and inlay work in the purfling and rosette are in the Romanillos style, but not an exact copy, rather Zalapa's take on Romanillos. But still close and certainly inspired. This tribute has a stylish, firm quality of sound - across all registers, each note is perfectly separated from the next, with great clarity among voices even when all 6 strings are being played together. Materials are striking including a lovely set of flamed maple for the back and sides (and central stripe in the head veneer). Playability and setup are easy on the hands and players looking for a slightly smaller build will find this guitar especially comfortable. Overall a great guitar by any standard.