Fructuoso Zalapa "Double Top"
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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 is the double-top model of Fructuoso Zalapa, which like by Dammann, Wagner, and others, has a soundboard composed of Nomex at its core (an ultra light cell structure), "sandwiched" between two very thin layers of both spruce on the exterior and cedar for the interior. This makes for an extremely light and efficient soundboard, but is domed in such a way as to maximizes stiffness at the same time - very important for both the sound quality and structural stability. Outwardly it seems just like a normal spruce soundboard. Internally, it has lattice braces of cedar with spruce harmonic bars. It is double sided, with cypress lining on the interior, similar to Ramirez 1a's which forces the top to do most of the vibrating and at the same time, coloring the sound coming out of box with some added harmonic richness. It has a fully elevated fingerboard for improved ease of play in the higher positions, particularly above the 12th fret. It is also fitted with two saddles - one for the treble strings, the other for the bass strings - which allows more flexibiliy in compensating the string lengths and ultimately the intonation. In appearance Zalapa has borrowed heavily from his Romanillos model, in particular in the head shape and inlay work in the purfling and rosette. Materials are striking including a very dramatic set of Cocobolo with a flash of contrasting sapwood in the center of the back and a stripe along the sides. This complex design with all the above structural details yields a guitar with added power and a focused quality of sound, making it suitable for any sized concert hall. Playability and setup are easy on the hands and players looking for an ergonomically well-built instrument will find this guitar especially comfortable. Overall a great guitar by any standard.