Hans van Velzen builds guitars in his hometown of Tilburg, Holland. His was initially trained as a mechanical engineer at the Leidse Instrumentmakersschool where he learned to design and make precision instruments for research, laboratories and prototypes. These "instruments" were mostly made in metal, and had nothing to do with musical instruments. Hans made his first musical instrument (an electric guitar) in 1986 purely on the side, as a hobby project. However, at the Leidse instrumentmakersschool he learned how to work very precisely, which would be a big advantage when he would eventually turn to guitar making.
Starting in 2004 he began his course of study in guitar making at the CMB in Puurs, Belgium and in 2014 became an officially qualified guitar builder after completing three areas of study: steel string guitar module, the restoration/repair module and the classical guitar module, all at the CMB. Hans cites Jacky Walraet and Walter Verreydt as two of his most influential teachers. Hans' direction over the last ten years has focused more and more on classical guitar building, and he has participated in the Leonardo Guitar Project
, which is a collaborative effort to build guitars with non-tropical tonewoods - Hans spent one month in Italy in 2015 working with Lorenzo Frignani on this project. In terms of sound, Hans cites the "golden era" of the Spanish guitar (roughly from 1870-1930) as his primary inspiration. Builders such as Antonio de Torres, Manuel Ramirez, Enrique Garcia and Santos Hernandez are his top models, and Hans builds replicas of instruments from these builders, aiming to capture both the sound and "look" of the original instruments as accurately and historically correct as possible. Hans' goal is to gain enough working knowledge of these old masters, that will soon result in a model of his own design.
This model by Hans van Velzen was the third prize
winner in the 2nd International "Antonio Marin Montero" Guitar Building Competition
in Granada, Spain. This guitar (our first from him) is based exactly on the specs of his winning guitar. It is modeled as precisely as possible on a 1917 Enrique Garcia (#187) which has been very influential on Hans' work. In this Garcia, Hans has found the aesthetics very pleasing to his taste, especially in such details as the rosette design, the small piece of ebony above the nut and the Mother of pearl frame on the bridge. He also likes the roundness of the neck shape and many other features.
Hans notes that when you look at the work of Enrique Garcia, it is obvious Garcia had detailed knowledge of the instruments of Antonio de Torres, which he used as the starting point for his own work. But it also allowed Garcia to introduce some of his own alterations, for example adding an additional fan brace on the treble side (making for an asymmetrical, 8-fan system). Garcia also seized on Torres' occasional use of a rounded heelcap, enlarging and shaping it for ergonomic purposes. Sound-wise, Hans finds that this design gives him access to the kinds of sound colors he likes to hear in a guitar: deep, dark basses and velvety trebles, all nicely balanced. Hans has also made great effort to use materials as similar to those used on the original over a hundred years ago, including the same type of glue. He has even matched the weight of his braced top to that of the Garcia (about 130 grams). In the same spirit he has also tried to replicate as closely as possibly the original construction method, including the technique of roping the guitar when gluing the back and bindings. A final nice detail is on his label, Hans (like Garcia) notes his notable prizes which include: 2011 First prize at the Dutch Guitar Builders meeting, 2014 "Golden Fingerplane" of the CMB in Belgium and the 2018 3rd prize in the "Antonio Marin international Guitar Building Competition" in Granada, Spain. Hans admits that one never truly knows what guarantees you have by following these kinds of details, but he is pleased to report that so far he has always been very happy with the results, including with this instrument we now offer here for sale. We are too!
Photos of this guitar taken during construction.