Where It’s Made – Spanish Guitars

Greetings Everyone!  We’re starting 2013 off on a strong note (good one Alan!).  As I’m the guitar fan in the family, this was a particular treat for me.  We took a tour of a local Master guitar maker’s shop, and it was fascinating.

The idea for this tour started a couple of months ago, when we found out that there was a guy in La Herradura (it’s the next town over from Almuñécar) who makes Spanish guitars.  Heidi and I found his shop, introduced ourselves, and asked him if he could give the four of us a tour.  We explained our blog, and that we were interested in finding where and how things are made in Spain.  He was very positive about the whole thing, and told us how to schedule an informal tour.

Fast forward to the present, and once the holidays were over, I figured it was time to take the tour.  A couple of e-mails back-and-forth, and it was scheduled!

Master Spanish Guitar Maker

The Master guitar maker is Stephen Hill, and he was very accommodating.  He’s a Brit who lives full time in Spain.  As his guitars are handmade to very exacting standards, he produces about 12 per year.  Yeah…per year.  The other thing he does is teach courses for those would-be luthiers.  It’s a very intense one-month course limited to 6 people.  During that month, each student builds their own guitar.  How cool is that!?

He has a small shop, and the first thing you notice when you walk in is the fabulous smell.  I don’t know about you, but the smell of cut wood is one of my favorite (non-food) smells.  He showed us several pieces of different types of wood, and let us smell them.  The wood is not only beautiful to look at, but smells fantastic as well.

Stephen showed us the big (and loud) machinery, but what I was amazed at was the amount of hand tools used.  A hand-held wood planer from the U.S., and Japanese chisels just to name a few.

It was interesting to see the guitars in various degrees of completeness.  The absolute care and attention to detail is very hard to show in the pictures.  Stephen makes two different types of guitars:  Classical Spanish, and Flamenco.  He’s been building them since the late 1980s, and he has some world-renown guitar players as customers, so the guy knows what he’s doing.

These are definitely not the cheap, mass-produced type of guitars you find at the run of the mill music store.  They are high-end instruments that fetch a premium price.  They start at around $5500, and I’m sure they’re worth every penny.

After showing us the the ins and outs of his shop, I asked if he could play one of his guitars for us.  After all, I want to hear what one of these beautiful guitars sounds like.  I was not disappointed.  The guitar had such a lovely tone.  I’m sorry that my recording doesn’t do it justice.

So what does it sound like?

Pretty nice, huh?  As a souvenir, Stephen gave me a CD.  Dale Harris – Reverie On A Hill.  It has a bit of everything.  Mozart, J.S. Bach, and Vivaldi to name a few.  It is very relaxing, and the music was made with one of Stephen’s guitars.

Many thanks to Stephen for his time and the CD!

 

Contact Info: European Institute of Guitar Making

Stephen Hill and The Team
Calle Canalejas 12 Bajo, La Herradura, Granada 18697 España
To make a course booking or for any other enquiries, please contact using this link.
Phone:  0034 958 827086

 

4 thoughts on “Where It’s Made – Spanish Guitars

  1. Intreped Wagoners,

    I just saw where the Wikipedia folks have started Wikivoyage, a crowdsourced travel guide. The entry for Almuñecar could use some work. You might want to create an account and edit that, and other pages, with information from your travels.

    P.S. Though I don’t write much, I read and enjoy all.

  2. Wow! First you guys get full access to the olive oil factory (very cool, by the way! I especially liked the picture of Lars reaching into the oil… I can’t imagine that that would ever be allowed in an America factory) … and now full access to a custom guitar maker!

    Adding video and sound really made this post complete! I vote for more multimedia posts! 🙂

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