Why build my own?

Why did I decide to build my own guitar(s)?

Well, that´s a good question and a long story at the same time 🙂

It all started in early 2013. At that time I had already developped a real passion for classical guitars. I started playing in 2009, and since then there wasn´t a day where I would not play my instrument for at least an hour a day. (Well, to be honest, most days I would practice for about 3 hours, or as much as my daytime job and other social obligations would allow for).

In 2009 I bought an entry-level nylon string guitar (A La Mancha Perla Negra cutaway) which I still own today. And it as been a great guitar to learn on. I only started taking classical guitar lessons in winter 2011. My teacher is a hard-core classical guitar professional, and after some months with him, he strongly recommended that I get myself a “real” classical instrument. (He does not really like cutaways I guess :))

But more serliously, my Perla Negra was fun at the beginning, but lacks most of the nuance capabilities required for the classical repertoire. At the same time the sound production above the 12th fret is … well, let´s call it average, and it almost completely lacks sustain in the basses.

So, there I was going from shop to shop to find a decent guitar, and I decided for a Manuel Rodriguez Model A.

But I was disappointed. I thout that 700 EUR should buy me an excellent study guitar that I would love to play, at least as much as I loved to play my Perla Negra. But this wasn´t so. …not at all …

Of course it was better than my first one, but it just wasn´t right…. basses to metallic, hard to play, and the G string was … well, lagging behind the rest…

That wasn´t an issue with the La Manche since every string was as bad as its direct neighbour LOL) so I didn´t notice. But once most things sound better, you really notice the stuff that does not (the G string). Even replacing the strings with high-end Hannabachs (The exclusive set) did´t get rid of the issue. Actually it got worse… pretty unbalanced response.

So…. a year later, I finally decided to search again, and this time I had the experience to know what to look for. (Or at least, what to avoid :)).

For the next 6 months I spent hours in various shops (Music store in Cologne, Thomann, and I visited most shops in the rue de Rome in Paris…).

Conclusion: What I wanted would cost me between 3 and 4000 EUR. And I was able to narrow the options down to either a Hanika model 60 PS (spruce) or their 1a model, which I liked even better, but it was more around 4500 than 3500 :(.

I discussed it with my teacher as well. He finally proposed to bring his concert classical guitar to the next lesson so that I could also try his before deciding. His concert classical happens to be an Amira Keller hand built (to his specs) and he got it at a discout since he used and advertised it during many of his public concerts.

What a silly idea that was LOL. Trying to compare a “soidisant” hand built Hanika to a real concert classical instrument… It took me exactly ONE minute to figure out that I would NOT buy any of the Hanikas either…. The Keller was yet something different, the real thing so to speak. As was the price-tag 🙂 7000 EUR 10 years ago. Was I really gonna pay that much money for some wood? In the end, that´s really what it is, right?

Don´t get me wrong here. I´m not saying that the Hannika ´Meisterklasse´is bad, and that the instruments aren´t worth their money. I´m merely saying that they didn´t compare to a luthier hand build guitar twice their price. And since I was on a mission to find the best sounding and playable instrument for myself, well…. The Amira Keller was …. from another planet 🙂

Wait a minute…. did I just say “it´s only wood´”… guess you see where I am going from here….crazy as I can be, that is really what I was thinking…. and why not build my own?