Deadline September 30

1st INTERNATIONAL GUITAR MAKING COMPETITION ‘ANTONIO MARIN MONTERO’. GRANADA, 26-29 October 2017

September 30 is the last day for registration for participation in this competition. I personally am counting on this competition becoming an annual event just as the organizers are hoping. Given the prizes, this year’s offer seems to be intended for the younger makers and those wishing to get some more exposure to the market. However, there is no reason why in coming years could not follow the lines of the great instrument making competitions (Paris, Cremona) and become the international reference for great guitar making. Why shouldn’t Granada attract the biggest international names in guitar-making once a year? In the meantime, I have heard that quite a few makers have signed up already but as the limit is 50 participants there is still room for you to register.

Mechanical pegs for guitar

We have all heard of the Pegheds mechanical pegs and some of us have tried them. My experience has been mostly good and clients are fine with them once they get used to them. Defective pegs were replaced free of charge when I had a problem.

I know the Wittner pegs have been available more recently but I had not seen them until now. They look good and don’t need to be screwed in which might be an advantage. Also no right or left pegs. I look forward to trying this set out but I don’t yet have a project to use them on.  I do like the feel of a flamenco with pegs mostly because of the lighter headstock.IMG_1510

Español: Carta de artesano

Seguramente conocen el registro de artesanos promovido por las administraciones regionales de España. Hasta ahora muchos de nosotros en Andalucía hemos estado en contra de registrarnos por lo mal que lo han hecho hasta la fecha. No han seguido sus propias reglas, no reconocen a los verdaderos maestros como tal y favorecen a los que pasan el día de despacheo y papeleo en lugar de los que están trabajando en sus talleres o trabajando por el gremio. Particularmente indignante es la derogaciòn de los cartas de artesano históricos que poseían todos los guitarreros. Esta derogación se hizo sin avisar, sin comunicarla a los mismos artesanos y por supuesto sin hacerles cartas nuevas con el modelo vigente. Y ahora se jubilan sin posibilidad de aparecer en esas listas como lo que son: los más importantes del gremio. Es importante porque cuando la junta o el estado tome decisiones sobre la artesania deben contar con estas personas y con las asociaciones. Sin embargo, sólo entabalan conversación con los que están en el registro de asociaciones, tanto individuos como asociaciones.

Los títulos de artesano y “maestro artesano” no nos interesa pero sí nos interesa que cuentan con nosotros para hacer normas y leyes que nos afecte. Estamos hartos de ver como las administraciones ensalza a vendedores profesionales que solo quieren ver su nombre aparecer en público y se dejan orientar por ellos. Vendiendo guitarras hechas en fábrica y no por ellos mismos dan muy mala fama a todos los guitarreros . Ahora los funcionarios nos han dejado muy claro que la único forma de efectuar algún cambio es haciendo presión desde dentro, no nos hacen caso si no estamos en su listado.

Por todo esto varios guitarreros (serios) hemos decidido apuntarnos al registro e intentar trabajar para mejorar este sistema. De momento el registro sólo muestra dos entradas recientes de Granada pero desde el primero de agosto varios guitarreros más y yo estamos registrados. Yo ya tengo mi carta y supongo que pronto actualizarán el registro en la página web.

Jumping through hoops

The regional governments in Spain are responsible for laws and programmes applying to artisans or craftspeople. They offer something called a “Carta de artesano” which you get if you register with them and prove that you are paying taxes. I have avoided participating in this system because it is gravely flawed and it rewards those who spend their days filling out applications, chasing after grants and chatting up the civil servants instead of making instruments or (heaven forbid) working for the guitar community. Also, there is a superior category of artisan (master artisan) and they have refused to honour the most important makers in Granada with that title. How can I aspire to this title if they refuse to give it to Antonio Marín or Manuel Bellido? However, after numerous visits by the guitar-makers association to the relevant offices, they convinced us that we have no power to change this system unless we are registered (as artisans) both as individuals and as an association. So, against my better judgement, I am now registered officially as an artisan. I don’t know yet if they will offer to make me a master artisan just because I have been paying my taxes for 15 years which is the only real requisite. I’m not really bothered as it is meaningless but if it gives us some voice in the laws that govern our activity I will play along.

The funny thing is that all of the older guitar-makers had their carta de artesano at one time or another but those models were deemed inappropriate and no one thought to let them know or automatically send them the new model. Here are three of the old models.  cartcart1cart2

Summer Arts

Thursday was the last day of California State University’s “La Guitarra Española” course in Granada. Part of the Summer Arts programme, it brought 16 students of the guitar and eight great guitar players to teach the students. The idea to do this here in Granada was the brainchild of Dr. Scott Morris, chair of music at CSU Dominguez Hills. His leadership here helped the guitar students to feel at home and to meet many of the makers in Granada. and to get the most out of the experience. The important thing is that the students really benefitted from the three weeks of classes because they played very well last night; I especially enjoyed Sarajevo nights for guitar quartet.

Another brilliant idea, this time thanks to guitarist Vicente Coves was to organize the 1st Granada Guitar Festival to coincide with these masterclasses and concerts. The collaboration between the Granada Town Hall, CSU and Vicente meant that we got to see some excellent guitarists play in Granada (Luis Mariano, Pepe Romero, Margarita Escarpa, Rafael Aguirre) as well as screening some musical film and performances by lesser known concert artists. The festival included a tribute to guitar-maker Antonio Marín Montero and in October will bring us an exhibition dedicated to the figure of Eduardo Ferrer and a guitar-making competition  (registrations still open). In short, the most important guitar-related thing to happen to in Granada since Antonio de Torres came here to learn the craft.

My presentation at Summer Arts

Saturday morning I was invited to offer a lecture on the Granada school of guitar-making along with author Alberto Cuéllar. 2017-08-12 09.38.31 The students of CSU Summer Arts programme are here in Granada studying with Pepe Romero, Margarita Escarpa, Eliot Fisk, Kai Narezo, Rafael Aguirre, Vicente Coves, and David Martínez and I though it was a good idea that they learn a bit about the Granada makers. They got a list of the makers, a rundown of the history and a look at some of the problems faced by guitar-makers here. These posts (round table, first foreigners) mention some of the subjects we covered. Alberto gave them a glimpse into the motivations and personalities of the people who make your guitars and shared some stories gleaned from the interviews he conducted for the book. The Diputación de Granada made a gift of the book to all of the students and the teachers of the course.2017-08-12 09.17.532017-08-12 09.56.53 2017-08-12 09.56.53

Margarita Escarpa

What a fantastic concert last night! Whatever instrument you play, the music should always come first. Rythm, melodia, dynamics and expresión. Technique should be only a road to those goals. This is the first time I have heard Margarita play live and myself and my friends absolutely loved her performance. The use of dynamics, the expressiveness of the interpretations, every thing was perfect. She is surely an excellent teacher as well as she walked us didactically through her programme and introduced us to some rather modern pieces but which she managed to make us like. She is doing masterclasses today for Summer Arts with the american students in the Corrala de Santiago and I am sure they will love her.