Offered here is a particularly lovely new guitar by the esteemed Italian luthier, Luca Waldner. co-author with classical guitarist Stefano Grondona of La Chitarra di Liuteria, Masterpieces of Guitar Making.
Maestro Stefano Grondona writes: Luca Waldner's guitars represent one of the highest artistic achievements in the world of guitar making in our day. Within the whole range of contemporary makers of all styles, concepts and tendencies, Waldner's guitars distinguish themselves by their marriage of a real and conscious rediscovery of the sensibilities and skills of the great guitar makers of the past (Torres, above all, who has been the subject of in-depth study by Waldner) and the restlessness of the creative artist who is very much a man of his own times.
They are instruments which, be it in the choice of shape, materials or dimensions, have a unique tendency towards sound, instruments whose raison d'être, beyond purely hedonistic guitaristic concerns, is to serve the creativity of the performer by those expressive means that music inspires them to, to be able to move forward through the complex drama that is the music.
Luca Waldner writes: I believe that an instrumental performance is a dynamic collaboration between composer, instrument makers, players and audience. In this respect a musical instrument is both an artistic expression of its maker and a conduit by which a performer breathes artistic life into a composer's creation. Given this symbiotic relationship, I believe an instrument maker must among other things study old instruments. This study is important not so much to reproduce instruments that have already been perfectly realized by others and which have lived and continue to live a glorious existence, but because it is important to recover and understand the sensibility and thought which lay behind these instruments' creation. By engaging in such study an informed and aspiring instrument maker of talent, sensitivity and conviction can maintain, extend and enrich the path begun by others.
Thus, my guitar embodies the following unique characteristics: Following the slogan, Tradition and Innovation, I have designed and hand crafted every part of this guitar. The rosette, the head, the purflings, and every other part of this instrument are my original modern design (not copies of existing guitars). Still, my designs are an outgrowth of the finest guitar making traditions. The head, for example, is inspired by a pre-Torres guitar, but it is modern and clean, with a great magnetic disposition. The plantilla (outline) of this guitar is after an 1859 Antonio de Torres instrument which was owned by the great Spanish classical guitarist, Miguel Llobet.
This guitar incorporates my innovative Internal Project. This unique system utilizes a structure with two internal registers determined by a small piece of wood which is movable along a straight line under the rosette. In effect it works similarly to the sound post in the violin family of instruments. It helps focus the guitar sound by giving greater definition to the basses and to the trebles. I have treated the spruce of this guitar's soundboard using an ancient and complicated process. This treatment imparts greater separation between notes and a warm, ancient color to the sound. In addition this soundboard treatment provides outstanding projection in a concert hall.
Including machine heads and strings this guitar weighs only 1,250 Kg. - very light by contemporary guitar making standards. Such lightness is due to the use of thin woods, as are also found in many fine vintage guitars. The use of such thin woods requires very accurate construction and a different philosophy in guitar making as well as guitar playing than is commonly encountered these days. The maker of such a light guitar must craft his instrument with great precision since such thin wood doesn't allow any tolerance for mistakes. The musical rewards for such painstakingly precise work are great. The player of such a guitar need not use a lot of physical strength, for such a guitar is very sensitive to the slightest variation in touch. Further, a guitar built in this manner can speak clearly and fully both at low and high dynamic levels, not merely in the higher register of its dynamic range. As a result, a pianissimo on this guitar will sound with the same brightness as a fortissimo. This is very important because it is impossible to transform a guitar into a piano, but it is very easy to lose the low dynamic range, beauty and sensibility of the traditional guitar by striving for great volume only.
The intonation of this guitar is very low: about 82 Hz (around the E of the sixth string). I believe that such a low pitched guitar is indispensable to achieving an elegant, refined musical sound. Finding a modern guitar with such low intonation is not impossible, but often such guitars have weak trebles. All fine ancient guitars have a low intonation; this is one of the characteristics that we love in those instruments. Thanks to my Internal Project with the register system, it is possible to have very deep basses as well as very clear, strong trebles.
To facilitate ease of playing, I have calculated the action of the strings and the dimensions of nut and bridge so as to provide the player with maximum comfort and pleasure. This guitar's varnish is composed of a first layer of oil varnish (derived from violin varnish) and a final layer of shellac following the traditional French polish method of application. The soundboard has been varnished using French polish of shellac only. This kind of varnish is the unique choice for top level musical instruments. It gives a noticeable improvement to the quality of the sound, it is totally compatible with the wood (making guitar and finish a homogeneous whole), and it gives to the instrument a unique warm shine and bright appearance. The machines heads on this guitar are post-machined by me to my design and mechanical tolerances. Among other things, I have installed Teflon® bearings to the string rollers for smoother tuning ease and long life. (Learn more).
Materials: Birdseye maple sides and back, well aged Swiss spruce soundboard, cedar neck, rosewood fingerboard, zero fret, rosewood bridge, immaculate French polish of shellac finish and workmanship throughout, 64.6mm string length, hardshell case.