Saturday, 3 March 2012

Antonio de Torres FE 18

This is a guitar I see quite regularly and it was in the workshop a few weeks ago for fellow guitar maker Pete Beer to inspect. Torres is of course a special name for all classical guitar makers as his contribution to the development of the instrument was enormous. Torres worked in two periods or epochs and this guitar is from the first epoch and is dated 1864. It is catalogued by Jose Romanillos as FE 18. The body is small by modern standards and is a similar size to a Panormo. It has a 640mm scale length, or thereabouts; it is possible that Torres used imperial measurements, and exhibits many of the features for which Torres is famed.

The rosette is a pleasing example of the decorative work found on some Torres guitars. Torres has made extensive use of dyed green veneer and the fine herring-bone design is one that has been much copied. I have spent many hours making this detail and know how long it takes, and the precision required to do it well.

FE 18 is delightful to play and playing any old and historically important instrument is a moving experience which brings you closer to the history of the guitar. Although the guitar has developed greatly since Torres there is still much to learn from the old makers. It must be remembered that the best guitars are being made now, by living makers and it should surprise no one that this is the case. Makers today have the work of those in the past to draw on, as well as many technologies that were not available to makers in the past.
This guitar can be heard at the Wigmore Hall (London) on the 25th March 2012 as part of a concert given by Edoardo Catemario. A Torres in this beautiful concert venue is a treat indeed.

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