A native of Florence, Italy, Andrea Tacchi is arguably Italy's foremost contemporary luthier and is ranked among the top handful in the world by players and collectors alike. His interest in guitar making started very early in his life - he built his first guitar at age 15. In 1977 he began the serious study of guitar making with Argentinian luthier Ricardo Brané. After Brané’s death, Tacchi traveled extensively (starting in the early 1980s) in pursuit of mastering his craft. In Spain he spent time in the workshops of Jose Ramirez III, Paulino Bernabe Sr, and Francisco & Gabriel Fleta; and in England with Jose Romanillos. But perhaps his most influential trips were those to France where he befriended and consulted with Robert Bouchet and Daniel Friederich, whose approaches and aesthetics would greatly impact Tacchi's developing style. His reputation internationally was boosted in 1985 when he competed in the Concours International des Facteurs de Guitare organized by Robert Vidal of Radio France - Tacchi won first prize for Aesthetic Qualities and second general prize for Acoustic Qualities. His instruments have been played by several notable guitarists including Filomena Moretti, Flavio Cucchi, Carlo Marchione, Antigoni Goni, Robert Gruca, Colin Davin, Minoru Inagaki, and Marcelo Kayath, while others belong to important private collections. Two of his guitars are in the collection of the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini in Florence, Italy.
This is Andrea Tacchi's flagship model, the "Coclea Thucea". It is a fusing together of two different design ideas that were developed independently. The first idea was born in 1989, when Tacchi publicly unveiled his "Coclea" model – named after the Latin word for the part of the inner ear that transforms sound vibrations into the psychological sensations of volume, timbre, and tone. It is based on geometric and mathematical concepts that Tacchi discovered in researching old stringed instruments starting with S. F. Sacconi's book "The Secrets of Stradivari" where Sacconi made sketches of violins and cellos that described the rules of dimensions and proportions that most influenced acoustic properties. Further, Tacchi explored the relationships found in the careful combining of circles and spheres to generate his plantilla (outline shape of the guitar) as well as the side-view shape with its unique back and soundboard doming. The second idea (the "Thucea" part of the story) came as a result of Tacchi having evaluated many original Torres guitars and noticing Torres' use of asymmetrical soundboards - center seam locations and number of pieces of wood used by Torres for his tops seems to have been done to ensure that the stiffest pieces of woods were normally found under the bridge area. This realization led Tacchi to develop a three-piece top made with two pieces of western red cedar at the extremities and a central piece of European spruce in the middle, named "Thucea" from the union of the Latin words "Thuja Plicata" (cedar) and "Picea Excelsa" (spruce). Tacchi’s idea was to work with woods of different densities (as Torres had done) to maximize the efficiency of sound transmission across the various sections of his soundboards, resulting in improved response and projection.
Andrea named this guitar "Riflesso" (English: "Reflection"), and based his design elements from inspiration taken from the painting "Narcissus" by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, painted circa 1597–1599 (see image, above). Since his childhood, Andrea has been captivated by the strange contemplation of one's reflection in a mirror, which opens a "mystery dimension" where things not seen on "this side" become very real in the reflected reality - just as the image of Narcissus reflected in the water reveals darker dimensions to his character compared to the fleshly counterpart on the other side. Lewis Carroll perhaps captured this essence most memorably in "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There" where Alice finds that, just like a reflection, everything is reversed, including the laws of logic! In this guitar, Andrea chose to represent this theme in the rosette and top purfling, which are both split into two halves - one side being the "reversed mirror image" of the other, almost like a negative image. In the rosette, the two halves meet at an oval-shaped inlay which has a reflective goldleaf bottom, filled with epoxy, giving it a 3D relief - itself perhaps symbolic of a hand mirror. Indeed, the act of performing on a musical instrument like this is to enter another world... also full of mystery and artistic beauty - Even just a quick glance at this guitar reminds the viewer, listener and player of this other dimension.
Notable qualities of this guitar are an easy emission of sound, a great variety of timbre, polyphonic clarity, increased volume, great playability and relaxed, comfortable string tension. Back and sides are made with wenge for the exterior, lined internally with Mahogany for the sides and Makore for the back (with gold leaf covered heel block!). Andrea has favored wenge for the back and sides of the Coclea models for over 20 years due to its assistance in production of a clean, focused quality of sound emanating from the box. No detail of this guitar has been overlooked - the bridge is made of padauk, with an ebony veneer (matching the head veneer), and in addition to the beautiful inlay work already mentioned, the tie block is capped with horn which fades from dark to light at either end. Within the horn is inlayed material - an assortment of bits of gold, and collage of purfling fragments floating in clear epoxy. Even the saddle itself is a composite of bone and carbon fiber to transmit vibration as efficiently as possible - Andrea sees this juncture of "string to body" in much the same delicate way as a needle on a record player. Fitted with Rodgers tuners and 20th fret. Overall a very sophisticated guitar, successfully achieving its intended aims, the primary of which is beauty of sound.