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The Art and Craft of Making Classical Guitars Paperback – Special Edition, December 15, 2009
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About the Author
Manuel Rodriguez learned the art of constructing a guitar firsthand. He started as an apprentice at the age of 13 in Madrid, where he first began to learn what makes a beautiful and resonant guitar. After apprenticing and operating in his own shop in Spain, Manuel immigrated to Los Angeles in 1959 and opened a business there. Residing in the City of Angels for nearly 15 years, Manuel made guitars for professionals, Hollywood actors, teachers, students, and those just wishing to express themselves creatively through music, before moving back to Madrid in 1973.
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I had briefly met the author in his shop in Madrid and purchased a guitar from one of his sons, Norman. As thrilled as I am with the quality of the guitar I now play daily, this book is not a match for his guitars.
The book is not logically arranged, poorly edited and wanders from subject to subject and back again. Chapter headings promise to tell the history of the guitar, woods used in fine guitar construction and techniques. In my humble opinion, this book incompletely delivers on these topics.
The history of the guitar starts with observations from Sr. Rodriguez on historical examples and some small line drawings of ancient stringed instruments. Added into the middle of this light discussion is a table of "transmission times" for various types of woods. Interesting in and of itself, but it illustrates just how illogically this book is laid out. The science is mixed into historical discussion in a haphazard manner. What did luthiers accomplish with one design and how did it contribute to the next design? That's not present in this book.
Next, the reader is treated to a paragraph or two on many of the individual luthiers from the "Madrid school" of guitarmaking. Doubtless, Sr. Rodriguez or his father have known all of these famous luthiers and could tell a fascinating story. But he doesn't. What did these luthiers do to contribute to the history or sound of guitars? We very rarely get any real information about what these builders added to guitarmaking other than where their shops were located or who was the chief handyman at the shop.
Sr. Rodriguez also includes a short history of his family, from flamenco artists to industrial and artistic producers of guitars. We are treated to what seems to be the Rodriguez family photo album. It could be fascinating if the editor could have woven a coherent history from these pictures, or given the reader some insight into guitar building improvements or philosophy. Very unsatisfying.
The last two chapters are titled "Exhibitions and Schools" and "The Guitar in Europe" but it is little more than lists of names with a paragraph here and there of Sr. Rodriguez's reminiscences of those he has met.
As involved and important to fine guitarmaking as Sr. Rodriguez is, he didn't communicate that very well in his book. Buy his very fine guitars, they're much more satisfying than this book.
JOSE ROMANILLOS or maybe I am just a cranky old sod so there you have it cheers
Where we differ is that I see this book as a supplement to the other Spanish guitar literature that's out there. Rather than a more definitive work such as "A Collection of Fine Spanish Guitars from Torres to the Present" and "The Classical Guitar: A Complete History," this is more along the lines of a senior master guitar builder/artist sharing his wealth of knowledge of his craft and culture.
However, this book could have benefitted greatly from a more involved editor. There are organizational problems that a better editor would have sorted out. And perhaps a better title would be "Things About The Guitar"--oops, that one's already taken. Maybe "Thoughts About The Guitar" would be more appropriate.
If Spanish guitar's your thing, then "The Art & Craft" deserves a spot on your bookshelf.
Most recent customer reviews
This was not obvious to me when I purchased the book.
Useful for historical informaton about spanish luthiers.Read more