Some of the greatest instrument builders in the world are classical guitar luthiers. Classical guitar is an instrument with a long and rich history. Building techniques have been passed down from generation to generation and have since been carried around the globe. In fact, the world of classical guitar construction is one of the few trades that is still indebted to an older, artisan-type of apprenticeship system. The most respected luthiers in the world have studied under older, established builders or have attend schools that are based around the techniques of a particular builder. In an age of mass production, this type of craftsmanship is clearly from an earlier, more specialized time. Below is a list of some of the most influential and important classical guitar luthiers working in the world today.
Notable Classical Guitar Luthiers
The first thing you need to realize before you begin exploring the luthiers listed below is that these are not run-of-the-mill instruments. They are all hand-built in small batches and are all considerable investments. However, they will only get better and better as they age, and you will enjoy any one of these instruments for the rest of your life.
- Greg S. Brandt - Greg Brandt has been involved in constructing classical guitars since 1977. This North Hollywood luthier has built guitars that have appeared on motion picture soundtracks like Goodfellas, The Straight Story, Blade Runner, Field of Dreams and many more. Great guitar players like Tommy Tedesco, John Pisano and Jim Hershman have all chosen these beautiful guitars. You can have one yourself; the standard concert model has Indian rosewood back and sides, a European spruce or western red cedar top, ebony fingerboard and mahogany neck. Sloane tuning machines with pearloid knobs and a gloss lacquer finish are the finishing touches on these beautiful instruments.
- Thames Classical Guitars - These beautiful guitars are handmade in Sante Fe, New Mexico by Michael Thames, who has made over 700 guitars in his life. All the gluing on these guitars is down with hide glue. This glue is more difficult to work with, but it has been used for over 5,000 years to make instruments around the world. Little details like this help give these guitars an ancient, classic sound. Cedar tops, East Indian rosewood back and sides and Rodgers tuners are used to create these incredible instruments.
- Connor Guitars - Connor guitars take their cues from traditional Spanish designs and aesthetics. Their main selling point is that they have captured all the tone and subtlety of traditional Spanish classical guitars, but they have made adjustments to the guitar's construction that lead to more power from the instrument. Several different models are available, all of which use the finest woods like Brazilian rosewood, cypress, koa, Indian rosewood and more.
- Dominelli Guitars - Luthier Marcus Dominelli builds from ten to twelve guitars a year in his Victoria, Canada workshop. He has traveled around the world to places like Cuba, Spain and Mexico and picked up quality made instruments to learn how they were put together. These beautiful guitars have been given careful attention throughout their building process, and the materials used in their construction are of the highest quality.
- Oskar Graf - Another fine Canadian luthier named Oskar Graf has been building classical guitars since the 1970s. This Berlin born craftsman moved to Ontario where he set up a workshop. Since he started building, Graf has brought over 400 instruments to life. His classical guitars feature Indian rosewood back and sides and either cedar or spruce tops.
When you're in the market for a guitar made by one of the world's finest classical guitar luthiers, you're probably not going to be in a hurry. You'll want to get your hands on as many of these guitars as you can before you decide to make your final purchase. Consider taking a trip to visit one of the shops listed above. Most luthiers love to talk about their guitars and would love to let you see their handiwork up close.