Women of the Classical Guitar

“This all began at Buffalo 1st edition of Women of the guitar. We were having a roundtable with Martha Masters, Gohar Vardanyan, myself and Joanne Castellani. Joanne were asking so many interesting questions and we came to the conclusion that they are many women playing the guitar and they needed to be more exposed. I hate to complain so I promised that I would raise a big list of all the women playing the guitar around the world. Here we are one year after that promise and the list keeps growing.”

Gaëlle Solal

Women of the Classical Guitar list

New Representation in France

I have been known to criticize dealers both in general and specifically but let the record show that I know how important they are and the better ones can be very good for the artisan’s visibility.  In general those who do what I do are not especially good at self-promotion.  The guitars might be fantastic but these days marketing, visibility and who is playing your guitars is sometimes more important than how they sound.  You might think that with cheap flights and no borders within European countries that it might be no more difficult to find clients in other countries than it is here.  Well, actually, there are an incredible number of guitarists who will only visit the guitar shops in their region and might never buy a guitar from the person who made it.  Therefore I am happy to report that my guitars are now available in France thanks to Jean-Marc de Beys at Guitarreria.eu  He travels around a lot especially within France and Belgium so getting a chance to try the guitars he carries shouldn’t be too hard.  He has just received a concert guitar of mine in spruce and indian which sounds sweet and strong.

Manuel Reyes

This week we lost another great of the guitar, Manuel Reyes of Córdoba. Recognized by most as the greatest builder of flamenco guitars, his talent and popularity was another stone in the monument to the traditional spanish guitar.  When I met him he seemed to be a very intuitive builder (as opposed to the scientific trends we see nowadays) and was very clear that his place was with the flamenco guitar.  He even went so far as to ask himself what he needed to change to make a great classical.  This conversation took place in Granada when he travelled here with his daughter Manuela to buy wood from my teacher Rolf Eichinger.  We all had lunch together that day and I I remember Manuela being very excited and passionate about the craft she was learning from her father.   I met Manuel once more in Córdoba on the occasion of the Festival in 2007 when we were both asked to exhibit a guitar for the hommage to Torrres.  If you search “Reyes” one of the first photos to come up is of Reyes with Romanillos and Andrés Dominguez and was taken at the opening of that exhibition.

I am sad to see him go and I wish all the best to his son Manuel and his daughter Manuela.

Carlos Blanco Ruiz

Remember this guitar? http://www.granadaexpert.com/johnray/manuel-ramirez-1911/  Well, Carlos has just used it on another recording and I have now received my copy of the cd, very nicely played and well recorded.  You can get it here although I am not sure if they ship outside of Spain.  On the same page you can download the booklet and listen to quite a few tracks.


Carlos Blanco Ruiz

Manuel Ramírez, 1911
Instituto de Estudios Riojanos, 2014
The Instituto de Estudios Riojanos published in 2005 the book and CD “Francisco Calleja (1891-1950): Música original para guitarra. Edición Crítica” and in 2012 a second cd “La guitarra de Francisco Calleja: nuevas obras y transcripciones”, both authored by Carlos Blanco Ruiz.
The first project contained a biography, editions of the known pieces and a cd of this music.  The second contained new music both originals and transcriptions.
We now present a third recording with music that is related to Francisco Calleja.  There are a few things that justify this new publication:
On the one hand we have the appearance of new repertoire, recently discovered.  On the other hand is the possibility of displaying the aspect of performer through Calleja’s transcriptions and other pieces which are not his but were often present in his concert programmes in his almost 40 years of performing.
  Several of them are mainstays of guitar repertoire from the beginning of the twentieth century.  Finally, but no less importantly, the possibility of studying and recording these pieces on a historical instrument, a guitar made by Manuel Ramírez from 1911 which belonged to the maestro and still retains the sound of these increasingly appreciated instruments.  The so-called historical guitars have a characteristic “spanish sound” which allow us to understand the music of the period (in which they were built) in a different way.  Our challenge was to ensure that the recording captures those special timbres in an attempt to offer a complementary vision of guitar music from the essential first decades of the twentieth century but seen through the eyes (or ears) of Francisco Calleja (from La Rioja).  LA GUITARRA DE PRINCIPIOS DEL S.XX BAJO EL PRISMA DE FRANCISCO CALLEJA was recorded in June of 2012 in Studios MECA, San Asensio and the sound technician was Javier Rojas Ruiz.

Below is a video from the recording sessions.

Antonio Marín Montero

People from all over the world know Granada for its guitars but here in our own city, until this year we have had no official recognition.  The Granada provincial government (publishers of the guitar-makers’ book) has once again risen to the occasion.  Here is the official act during which Antonio Marín is awarded a medal by the province of Granada.  Start watching at 9:17.

Visit to Malaga

Malaga is just over an hour away from Granada so yesterday I popped down to check out “Guitar Fair” to see if next year I should plan to go.  Very well organized and nice looking, there were two separate spaces, one for acoustic instruments and the other for electric.  I have to say I was pleased to see lots of public and a nice atmosphere.  Here is a photo of Andres Marvi in front of his stand.  IMG_4743 I am still not convinced that it is the place for fine classical guitars for a number of reasons.  The noise from the electric pavillion was such that it was not possible to try out a classical or flamenco guitar and also I am never happy to see the distinctions so blurred between guitars made in an individual shop and mass production.  There were “luthiers” who operate factories, “luthiers” who sell guitars with their own labels made by factories alongside guitar-makers who build and sign their own work.  It seems to me that the two are not in the same class and the lines should be very clear.

I happened to visit on the day that the organization was giving its awards for contributions to music and lutherie and the photo shows my first teacher José Ángel Chacón accepting his award for his work both as an educator and a builder.  IMG_4744All in all a great initiative on the part of José Luis Mármol and with luck we will see it again next year with some positive changes.