GFA, Heinsberg, Koblenz Summer Festival Season Recap

I was on the road for almost six weeks straight attending summer festivals and taking some vacation. It was a ton of fun, but I’m happy to be back home in Graz and getting back to work in the shop once I can recover from the jet-lag and a cold we all caught at the end. Here’s a bit of a recap.


I’ll start with this since it’s freshest in my memory. I was admittedly bad about taking photos during the whole thing. The first ten photos are reposts from the GFA facebook site; I didn’t take them, but they are only from events that I attended. Apart from the weather in Miami feeling like a punch in the face, the festival was wonderful. This year’s guitar comparison was performed by Raphael Feuillatre and Xavier Jara. Their playing was perfect and the hall was particularly well suited to such an event.

I was unfortunately unable attend most of the afternoon concerts because I was back at the hotel with my one-year-old daughter :), but the evening concerts were all beautifully played. It was otherwise, great to catch up with some old guitar builder friends, players and competitors, as well as to make many new friends that I hope to keep in touch with at future festivals in the years to come. One thing that was strange, but interesting was that I kept ending up in sub-groups of German speakers. A big congrats to all the competitors and especially my two friends Michael Butten and Dmytro Olmechak, who I’ve gotten to know over the years of doing these festivals; they are awesome musicians and very nice people!


Heisnberg festival and competition already seems like a million years away, but it was one of my favorite festivals of all. Hosted by the great Ukrainian guitarist Roman Viazovskiy, this biennial festival has a a cozier and more familial atmosphere. The performers, competitors, luthiers, concertgoers and volunteers all mix much more than in many of the larger festivals; the whole city has a part in it. These were some of the highlights: All of the concerts. Meeting the luthier Karl-Heinz Römmich, who is not only a great guitar builder, but somewhat of a strange polymath and extremely funny and generous person. A private guitar comparison with Roman Viazovskiy, Artyom Devroed and Qingchuan Li. Playing the only Hauser Viennese style guitar I know of with a cut-away :). Hanging out at the expo and festival bar with some other great luthiers Karl-Heinz Römmich, Hideo Sato, Steven Den Toom, Walter Verreydt, Götz Bürki and Jean Marquet.


Seattle was a whirlwind mostly of visiting family and friends, but I did make a few work related stops. I went up to the Rosewood guitar shop to drop of a guitar and visit with the owner Bill Clements and some of my old friends there. While I was there, I managed to play and briefly inspect a couple of beautiful 1980’s Ruck guitars from the private collection. My friend and fellow luthier, Max Sipe came up from Portland and we grilled on the lake, drank beers and talked guitars. I also visited Michael Partington and nerded out on guitars from his collection. Last but not least, I visit my friend Ryan Layne Whitney, who just acquired a new/old forte piano. In addition to that, he now has, in his two bedroom downtown apartment, a baby grand piano, a double manual harpsichord, a lute harpsichord and about 5 clavichords and a few other historical keyboard oddities. If you are into that kind of thing, then you should check out his youtube channel.


I was only able to attend the first few days of the Koblenz because I had to get back home to my family, but it was great to be back again and to lounge along the Rhein/Mosel at the Beer gardens with the other guitar builders. The concerts were great. I particularly enjoyed Lukasz Kuraposcewski’s afternoon concert. And, of course, catching up with my old Graz guitar buddies that I met in German class, Miguel Mandelli. Still sad that he moved away, but happy he is doing well and now studying in Köln.

That’s it for now. I probably forgot a lot of stuff, but that’s already a lot. Hope it’s interesting or helpful for people that don’t make it out to these things, but are interested in checking out some of these other great guitarists and guitar builders!


Flying out bright and early tomorrow morning! I'll be showing this guitar at the Heinsberg Guitar Festival and directly after for the first half of the Koblenz Guitar Festival in Germany.

-Spruce top
-Indian Rosewood back and sides
-Spanish cedar neck
-Ebony fingerboard
-650mm scale length
-52mm nut width/62mm width at the 12th fret
-43mm string spacing at nut/57 at the saddle
-Scheller tuning machines with snakewood buttons

New Spruce/Ziricote CITES Free Guitar

Here are a few photos of a guitar that I’ve been working on quite closely with a client. Spruce top and ziricote back and sides. The sides are laminated with cypress. The bracing is a the five fan Barbero hijo plan that I’ve used quite often over the past several years. It features my new rosette design with alternating Spanish cedar, walnut and maple hexagonal tiles. After comparing many woods and making several incarnations, we decided to go with a padauk bridge with brass reinforced holes. The purlfings are all hand made and the veneers are thicknessed by hand. The top ebony bindings are a hefty .100” in order to allow a large bevel for more comfort on the right arm. I find this to be much more attractive than an arm rest. Tuning machines will be Scheller with ebony buttons. I can’t wait to get this one strung up!

New Cedar/Rosewood Guitar

Finished up a new cedar and Indian rosewood guitar last week and got it delivered to its new owner, a great local guitarist Stefan Steinhauser. I’m quite happy with how this one turned out. It’s kind of a take on several Bouchet inspired guitars that I’ve liked in the past, mainly Marin Montero and Delarue. I feel like this guitar has the clarity that I like so much about this style of instrument. The basses aren’t too stiff or broad and the trebles aren’t to harsh, but it still has a nice clear attack and presence.

  • Western red cedar top

  • Indian rosewood back and sides

  • Spanish cedar neck with carbon fiber reinforcement

  • Ebony fingerboard with half 20th fret

  • Scheller tuning machines with snakewood buttons

Playing Catch-Up

Been busy doing a lot of sanding and fussing in the shop. Here are some photos of the two guitars I’ve been working on after their first seal coats of shellac. One is custom for a client and the other will be my show guitar for the festival season. I surprisingly got a lot of requests for this simple headstock design, so I’m bringing it back!

The next guitar in line is similar to my show guitar. Custom spruce and ziricote. Very excited for this one. A few photos at the end of the top and back being joined and a short video planing and scraping the sides.

The very fine people over at Siccas Guitars in Karlsruhe, Germany made a nice video of Artur Miranda Azzi playing of Bach’s Allegro BWV 1003 on one of my Torres/Romanillos models. The break-neck tempo doesn’t necessarily show off the more intimate character of this guitar, but it’s some very impressive playing none the less! Here’s a link to the guitar on their website:

The guitar I sent to Galerie des Luthiers in Lyon sold within a week or two. I was extra happy with how that one turned out, so I’m glad they liked it too! I’ll have another in line for them around the end of the year. Otherwise, my wait list is now out to around to early 2020, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested. I’m always happy to answer questions.


It's been a long week. My whole family came down with a stomach flu and I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. I’ve also been trying to post less on social media, so I’m going to try to condense some of this stuff into one long post.

I’m assembling two guitars at the moment. One for a good friend of mine and the other for festivals this summer. Here are a few photos from the week’s work and a list of the festivals I will be showing at this summer so far. I may add one more, but this is it for now:

  • Heinsberg International Guitar festival (Heinsberg, Germany, May 29-June 1st)

  • Koblenz International Guitar festival (Koblenz, Germany, June 2-5th)

  • Guitar Foundation of America Convention (Miami, Florida, June 18-22nd)

  • Gitarrenfestival Seckau (Seckau, Austria, July 20-28)

I’ve gotten a number of inquires lately about my wait-list. I think I have room for one more guitar in 2019 and then I’ll be taking orders for 2020. Please send me an email if you interested.

I recently sent a guitar to the wonderful people at Galerie des Luthiers in Lyon, France. I’ve already posted quite a few photos during the building of it, but here is a link to it on their website. I’m very happy with how this one turned out, so please stop in to check it out and support them if you are in the area! They have a nice collection of fine instruments and also host concerts regularly.

New Demo Videos

Stefan Skrilecz stopped by the shop yesterday morning to check out a new guitar and record a couple demo videos. These are the first movement of Koyunbaba by Carlo Domeniconi. Stefan is an accomplished guitarist, professor and head of the plucked instrument department at the Johann-Joseph-Fux Konservatorium in Graz.

No edits. No added reverb. D’addario EJ45 normal tension strings. Two cameras and a Zoom H5 recorder about one meter from the guitar.

Torres/Romanillos model. This guitar will be available at Galerie des Luthiers in Lyon is a couple days.

New Torres/Romanillos Model

Strung up the the latest Torres/Romanillos model that will be going to Galerie des Luthiers next week!

It’s been a little over a day now. I did the final set-up and put a fresh set of strings on yesterday. As early as it is, I’m extremely satisfied with the response and play-ability of instrument so far. Here are some of my impressions and thinking:

I’ve recently made a few changes in my approach to this model. I’ve felt that, while the lively and lush response of the traditional Torres sound can be very impressive, intimate and alluring, it can sometimes lack a bit of balance and evenness in higher frequencies. I’ve addressed this in some of my recent versions of this model by ever so slightly adjusting the soundboard and side construction. While, maintaining a low body resonance slightly above F#, I feel that it keeps the traditional allure, but greatly increases the balance and evenness of decay in the trebles. It also disciplines the basses in a way that allows for a slightly larger dynamic range. I also believe that it balances and cleans up the overall frequency response and allows it to project better in a larger room.

  • European spruce top

  • Indian rosewood back and sides

  • Spanish cedar neck

  • Ebony fingerboard

  • 52mm nut width

  • 43mm string spacing at nut/58mm at bridge

  • Scheller tuning machines with real mother of pearl buttons

Trying to catch up with photos

Here is a collection of photos from the gluing of the bridge and the first coats of shellac on a new guitar that I’ll be sending to Galerie des Luthiers in Lyon, France in about a month. I’m extremely happy with how this guitar is coming along!

DIY linging clamp

DIY lining clamps:

I went on a clamp making binge over the past couple of days. I've been annoyed with all of the clamp options out there for gluing solid linings. Most of the spring clamps don't apply even pressure and the ones that do are often plastic, the old clothes pin with rubber bands trick is not very good to say the least and any sort of small metal clamps are expensive and dent the interior curves of the linings.

So, I made a handful of prototypes this morning and settled on this small wooden clamp. I think that it does a good job and parts-out to about 2 euros per clamp. It applies even pressure and doesn't dent the linings. I'm posting a photo with a list of materials in case anyone wants to copy it. I used beech wood because it was easily available in close-to-final dimensions, so I didn't have to do that much work in preparing it. The placement of the holes is 1/4" from the top, 7/8" from the top and 3/8" from the bottom for the threaded insert. I used epoxy to hold the threaded insert in there better, because I'm a little skeptical of how long it will last, but it seems to work well for the first run.