(Left-Woodcarving of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra)
My approach to guitar construction has always been to keep the Old Spanish tradition of guitar construction alive. I have never been a builder, that feels that the classical guitar and it's offshoot the flamenco guitar needs to be re-invented! To drastically change the Spanish guitar too far from what it has been up to now, makes it a different instrument. Too many soundholes, untraditional designs contorted necks, etc. Yes it's still a guitar of some sort, when these changes are imposed on it. But it is no longer the traditional Spanish classical or flamenco guitar. Certainly we "constructores” have to tweak and experiment to try for a more powerful voice on the guitar, but without losing the romantic, and haunting voice of the Spanish Guitar. This is my approach and is not for everyone. I believe Luthiery is an art more than a science. There are just too many variables in the materials used in traditional luthiery. Even from the same tree, the woods used will vary greatly. The intuitive method of construction is more along the thinking of an artist. My search and work is to figure out what the masters knew, to think like them and to build like them. The three masters that I greatly admire are Santos Hernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, and Manuel Ramirez. In the early 1960s while in Madrid in the shop of Viuda de Santos, I was invited to play on a 1932 Santos. The sound was beautiful and haunting, in the late 1980s I played on Maestro Juan Serrano’s 1948 Miguel Rodriguez, (his father's guitar that he inherited) The sound was somewhat like the Santos but much more powerful. These guitar voices are imbedded in my mind, and these are the guitar voices that I try to bring out each time I work on my art.