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, Marcelo Kayath, Tal Hurwitz and Carlotta Dalia 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.
Because every guitar Andrea builds is intentionally unique (primarily in the aesthetic treatment), he therefore likes to find an appropriate name for each of his instruments. Andrea told us that for this guitar, he gave it a temporary placeholder name at first of just "Ebony" and then "Ebony and Gold" or "Black and White". But these were only names to identify the guitar during the period of construction. It was late one night, just before finishing up and shutting off the lights in his workshop that Andrea finally decided to take some photos of the instrument to send to us. The guitar was already varnished, but still not strung up. Lying upside down, with a table lamp illuminating her at a slant, the light brought out the natural "chiaroscuri" created by the contrast between the sapwood’s creaminess and the darkness of the ebony. It reminded Andrea of the moon reflected on the sea at night. An infinite number of almost imperceptible white whiskers, patterns characteristic of this superb wood, were illuminated and seemed like subtle reflections on the crests of waves. He put some music on his stereo - his favorite recording of Debussy by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and as "Claire de Lune" passed through his speakers, it was clear to Andrea that the name was already there, written clearly in the air, and it was perfect for the guitar.
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 ebony for the exterior, lined internally with maple for the sides and birch for the back. Andrea allowed the natural contrasting heartwood/sapwood of the ebony to decorate the center seams on the back, sides and head veneer. This is a "Fibonacci" model which is primarily in reference to the rosette design which in itself is quite an artistic marvel. It has inlays of gold leaf in an expanding Fibonacci sequence, with the spaces in between filled with a Garcia-inspired checkered mosaics which are sized in "golden ratio" proportions generated from each of the preceding gold leaf measurements. In the areas of the rosette nearest the fingerboard and in the tieblock of the bridge, he has inlayed an assortment of bits of gold, and collage of purfling fragments floating in clear epoxy, including two vitreous black onix stones from Brazil. The bridge is maple, veneered with ebony and the tie block is capped with Mouflon horn (from the island of Sardinia) with more of the purfling fragments and gold pieces in clear epoxy as in the rosette. 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.
Luthier Bio: Andrea Tacchi
Orfeo Magazine article on Tacchi, Locatto and Frignani