is a very talented US luthier who builds an exceptionally well-made instrument, firmly rooted in the traditional Spanish style. Andy believes that the best guitars are still modeled on the designs and ideas of Antonio de Torres (1817-1892) and admires him for his constant experimenting with different ideas. Andy prefers also to work in a traditional manner - very few power tools, and as much by hand as possible to achieve the maximum amount of control over the quality of his work. His guitars are assembled by first joining the neck to the top to precisely establish the center line of the guitar. This assembly is placed face down on a solera, or workboard, and the sides are slotted into the heel block, and glued to the top with individual glue blocks called tentalones. Finally the back is fitted and the box is closed. The bridge is glued on before finishing, because Andy likes to play all of his guitars "in the white" and refine the voice by sanding the top if necessary. Finally, the entire guitar is finished in French polish of shellac, applied completely by hand with the traditional muñeca, or cloth pad.
After several years now of selling his guitars, we've really come to admire the young New York luthier Andy Culpepper for his building skill, sound quality and innovation - and this guitar shows precisely why. This is a lightweight flamenco made with cedar top and Spanish cedar back and sides (the same wood traditionally used for the neck and some internal bracing of the guitar). The two woods look great together, sort of an amber 'blanca' like an old cedar top Gerundino. The Hauser-style rosette is in the same color palette, along with the Honduran rosewood fingerboard and bridge and African rosewood bindings and headstock. All woods traditionally used in building, but reimagined to beautiful effect. The sound is surprising too. Plenty of volume and responsiveness with great tonal complexity and color make this guitar very flamenco, yet a great complement to a more traditional blanca, a halfway stop on the way to a negra. Andy's an accomplished flamenco player himself, and that shows in the easy playability and set up of this instrument. It has been played a lot, always a good sign, but respectfully, showing modest wear. The mechanical tuning pegs add a traditional look but tune like a machine, while keeping the headstock light and string changes fast. A winning instrument, with all the right spirit and performance of a great flamenco. A superb value from a maker you're going hear a lot more about.
Luthier Bio: Andy Culpepper