Hello Everyone! Thank you kindly for taking the time to read my blog, which in essence, I feel is a personal and professional journal and possibly diary, if you will. You are all most kind to take such interest.
OK, Rome and the Roma Guitar Expo. Honestly, given the time constraints of being away and traveling for 5 days, I was not looking forward to it. It was almost fully paid for by the Italian Trade Commission, yet, I’m wondering, “how do I manage the time”? You may find that odd? How could you not want to go to Italy? Well, you have to see it from my point of view. I am this business, and as professionally as I run it, it’s all still very personal to me. In the end, people want to speak with me and only me. I get it. I would want the same.
All I can say, in the end, I’m very happy I went. Yes, I was shut down for 5 days, but it was worth every minute. Allow me to explain.
The first thing you realize when you arrive in Rome is that the air and the light is very different. now, I’ve been to Rome, Italy and much of Europe many times. What floors is me is that as I get older, my appreciation for the Finer Things in life, the art, the culture, the architecture, and in general the Artistry of the European people is simply staggering.
Originally, the coordinators of the Roma Guitar Expo (wonderful people by the way), put me in a beautiful hotel in a town called Collotino, just outside of Rome proper. As nice as it was, I felt removed from the city of Rome, moving my accommodations on my own the following day to a beautiful and quaint hotel in the center of the city, with the help of my good friend, Nicoló Alessi of the Tuning Machines fame. Good choice. I immediately felt more connected to my environment, from many different angles, personally, culturally, and professionally.
After settling into my room and putting my things away, I took a 2 hour stroll around the city, checking out the venue location, having a chance to see some of the more immediate attractions including the Fontana de Trevi – The Colosseum – The Spanish Plaza and knock me down the Plaza Venezia. These are quite literally “Holy Shit” moments for anyone of normal sanity (which I know is questionable for me personally LOL).
The Trevi Fountain was on my way to the Expo from hotel, where I was blessed to see it every day for 4 days.
You can not believe the intricacy, the art, the workmanship, the man hours and the vision it must have taken to conceive of and build such wondrous things. These shots you see are done on the fly with my phone. Really, not too bad, overall. So beautiful!
My main goal, of course, was to see and meet the luthiers of Italy that were in attendance to this wonderful Expo, so allow me to move on to this subject and leave you with, if there is a place to visit in your lifetime, Rome has to be one of these important destinations. The art, the culture and the food (omg!) are amazing.
My arrival to the Expo was greeted with a brief explanation of what was happening, and right into a conference with the many luthiers, other dealers that were invited from the US, England, and Germany, and the coordinators of the event. I had to speak to everyone, where quite frankly, I was unprepared. But, I managed through it, keeping it short and sweet, staying very positive (I say this because it occurred to me that I have spent much time with many people over the years who have criticized other dealers, and I shut my gotdam mouth about it), and then, I thought it important to relay to them all that I was a luthier’s dealer, that I have done their work, that I have repaired and restored over a hundred instruments myself (my hobby when I worked on Wall Street). I then relayed to them my fondest thoughts, that of working with raw wood and applying shellac to that wood after preparation. This really got their interest, which I was very happy about, and was the point. No dealer that I’m aware of actually works on guitars, and quite frankly, I wanted them to realize, to know, that this is how I got started. It had the desired effect.
Meeting each of the luthiers over the next 3 days was so very special for me. Playing their instruments for myself, listening to the numerous great players who were in attendance play those same guitars, examining the guitars, handling them carefully (unlike most…yikes, this bothers me to no end to see people being disrespectful with someone else’s guitar), and listening carefully to the voice, the expression, the depth, the lyrical nature of the instruments from each builder, one after the other. I cannot relay to you how apparently important the voice is to these very special luthiers.
Never mind the artistry of their work, the meticulous attention to detail. It has convinced me that Italian luteria is going to be a specialty of mine for the foreseeable future.
I would like to mention the names of some of the people I met and all of the luthiers that I met with during this incredible yet short trip (in no particular order): Dealers: Claudio Zangirolami – David Collett – Manuel Luchena and Miles Roberts. I particularly enjoyed meeting and speaking with these gentlemen as it is rare that I can find them all in one place.
I ended up having dinner the first night with numerous performers including the great Aniello Desiderio and Luigi Attademo – Massimo delle Cese (amazing players all of them) along with Luthier Paolo Coriani – the amazing Lorenzo Frignani – Nicoló Alessi – and I believe one of the sponsors of the Expo, Massimo di Coste – It was an amazing meal made more so by the incredible people I was surrounded by in the most beautiful restaurant.
Luthiers – Toni De Stefano – Paolo Coriani – Enrico Bottelli – Mario Pistella – Matteo Vaghi (along with the beautiful Federica Canta – a wonderfully expressive player) – Danielle Marrabello – Andrea Tacchi – Camillo Perrella – Luigi Locatto – Lucio Antonio Carbone – Roberto de Miranda – Eugenio Ligato – Giacomo Guadagna – Stefano Brescini – Davide Serracini – Lorenzo Lippi – Fabio Zontini – Silvia Zanchi – Rinaldo Vacca – Alessandro Marseglia – Roberto Pozzi – Mirko Migliorini – Michele Della Giustina – Leonardo De Gregorio – Ennio Giovanetti (I love this guy) – Gabriele Lodi – Rinaldo Vacca – Stefano Brescini – Lorenzo Frignani (there are so many great luthiers and he is a standout) and Marco Maguolo along with my good friend, Nicoló Alessi of Alessi Tuning Machines.
The first night was a concert featuring 9 performers playing the Arcimbolda Guitar that was built by 15 luthiers of Italy. Each played 2 shortish pieces and it was spectacular.
The 2nd night was a concert with Aniello Desiderio – again, a beautiful and engaging performance. He played the entire concert with a guitar by the great Alessandro Marseglia – this after another long but fruitful day of meeting with various luthiers and playing their guitars.
The 3rd day and night started with me walking some more around Rome, seeing more sights, then getting back to the show at 10AM. I met with a ton more luthiers, including Gabriele Lodi and Andrea Tacchi, who had given a lecture/dissertation on the great Robert Bouchet the 2nd afternoon. Very enlightening, clearly showing his knowledge of the great luthiers of Europe, as evidenced by his own great work, very mindful of the Bouchet and Friederich works. Andrea surprised me at a local Bar down the road for a quick Espresso, while I was sipping on my own coffee and a quick Espresso of my own. He came up right next to me, thanked me for my kind and very brief words to him at the show (he’s so well-known, I felt it rude to intrude upon him any further other than to thank him for seeing me and what an honor it was just to shake his hand and play his beautiful guitars). He then wrote the name and phone number of a great collector of fine instruments down for me on a piece of paper (which I’ll never use, again, he said it was okay but I would never be so presumptuous), of which that piece of paper will be framed and put on my office wall. What a nice man and don’t kid yourself, a phenomenal creator of fine classical guitars. A very cool moment for me personally, one I’ll not forget.
OK, so let’s talk about the Italian luthier, as a whole and in general. Musical. Expressive. Tonal Palette. Lyrical. Power and Projection. Almost as a collective, these guitars were incredible. The Hauser-ish guitars with a beautiful internal and expressive voice. The innovations from some of these men were outright special. Some of the power of these guitars was really astounding, and yet, keeping with the lyrical nature, where they played so well even softly. Gotdam, I’ve re-thought my entire philosophy on the classical guitar being around so many great luthiers and guitars. I didn’t think it was actually possible to marry power and voice in a CG, but here these guys are kicking it out of the park.
I’ve told them all what I tell every luthier that chooses to work with me and my gallery. On your terms, no contracts, no exclusives, work with me because you want to work with me. I will never specify your work, as I understand the artist, the builder, where I want you building that which inspires you. I will never rush you. I will never tell you how to run your own business. I will never limit you or put minimums on you. Send me what you love and when you wish to do so. It is always on their terms. You have to understand that these men and women, all luthiers, are builders yet artists. You cannot tell someone anything or specify a damned thing about what they are doing. Then it becomes work, and who in the hell wants to actually work for a living? Their inspiration is what drives them, their innovation keeps them awake, their creations are what drive them, and me or anyone else has the nerve to put a limitation of any kind on them? Seriously, that would just be downright stupid and ignorant, but there you go, it happens all the time.
I am a luthier’s dealer. I know their work, I’ve done it. I know the training they have gone through, the apprenticeship of a decade or more. The European way of artisanship. This is to be respected, and rightfully so. I do their work. I polish, setup and repair/restore these guitars. From molding splices to taking them apart and putting them together. No other dealer that I know of does this or has the knowledge. I know the guitars through and through, from internal to external inspection, neck angles, bracings, innovations, etc. I am a luthier’s dealer, plain and simple.
Last point, if I did this for money, I’d have stayed on Wall St. I worked a lot less and got paid WAY more. This is about art, music, appreciation of the finer things in life, the more delicate issues, the honest and fair representation of good people who are of the same mind. My goal wasn’t to make the classical guitar the most popular, but to do it better than anyone else in this business. The art of representing these men and women as artists, and not to exploit them and or take advantage of the market or my clientele. I have always said it, and I maintain, that if I take care of the luthier and the client, I’ll be just fine in the end. The good news is that I sleep just fine taking good care of both sides of the guitar. OK, enough. I’m very passionate about this, so I’ll end the rant right here. This is why I love these luthiers. They’ve married, through their hard work and dedication as luthiers and artists equally, the never ending problem of voice/expression and projection/power. Plain and simple. Rather incredible as well. There you have it, my professional thoughts on the whole of it and these most talented people.
So, the first luthier to commit to my gallery is Lucio Antonio Carbone – my notes on his guitars were simple: Bright, clear, powerful and musical. He has a Hauser replica that he will send to me in a few weeks that requires no CITES paperwork. If I remember correctly, he works with Ziricote and Pau Ferro for back/sides and they (all of these luthiers) almost always use Italian Alps Spruce from the Fiemme Valley in the Trentino province located in the Dolomites mountain region.
As of March 26th, 2018, numerous luthiers have committed a guitar to the gallery, beginning a long friendship and collaborative effort to bring the finest Italian luthiers here to the gallery. I will write a list of those luthiers below as I have time to update.
To all the Luthiers that I have spoken with and am in communication with, I am writing up a Spreadsheet of contact, emails sent, addresses, phone #’s, etc so that I can keep everything organized. My hope is to continue communications this month, to give and get updates from each of you so that we are all aware of where we stand at the moment. Thank you kindly and as always, big hugs from NY. Rich
Liutaio Giacomo Guadagna – has indicated that he will have his Venere Gran Concerto classical guitar ready for our gallery in 5 months
Stefano Brescini is resolving his CITES paperwork and will be sending a guitar to the gallery in the coming year.
Roberto de Miranda is sending a guitar to the gallery.
Eugenio Ligato has also committed a guitar to the gallery. He will be visiting me in early June 2018
Mario Pistella, another great luthier, very engaging, builds a superb guitar with voice, power and character. He will be coming to the gallery in the next few months.
I wanted to write down for the record, my short thoughts on each luthier I met:
Lorenzo Lippi is an extraordinary builder as well as teacher – his student instruments exceed much of anything else from around the world. His guitars are a superior catch in a very large arena. He is a very serious man and what can I say, I like that! He will be sending a guitar possibly by the end of May 2018?
Roberto de Miranda builds a very elegant guitar in voice and artistry. Very nice. He’s a gentle soul and a wonderful man.
Enrico Bottelli – seriously beautiful and what a man. He commands presence much like Lorenzo Lippi. His guitars do the same, beyond lyrical.
Camillo Perrella – a character, I immediately liked him, and his guitars are innovative, very resonant, intimate to loud. I wrote, “no problem having him here”. Pretty amazing what he is able to accomplish. I’ll speak more about this on his own page when he comes to the gallery.
Lorenzo Frignani – another great man, great luthier. Very soft-spoken, he carries a big guitar LOL – My notes were simple, “Seriously? Wow!” His guitar is now available in the gallery! Gorgeous.
Luigi Locatto – another wonderful man, you can see his art and dedication in his eyes. 8 years older than me, the man is a true artist, with a specialty of restoring historical instruments that he can recreate seemingly effortlessly. His expression and coloration coupled with more than adequate power makes him a standout.
Alessandro Marseglia – a superb luthier and great man, he builds a powerful yet sensitive guitar that is wholly expressive. I wrote that he is a must have in the gallery.
Toni de Stefano – has committed to the gallery with his TDS Model with EIRW
Paolo Coriani – has also committed to the gallery in the next few months with one of his concert models
Roberto Pozzi – is getting ready to send a guitar middle of 2019
I’ll keep writing about all of the people I met, but want to do it when I’m fresh and good to go. I’m a bit tired right now and still have other work to attend. I’ll be back tomorrow. Rich
I wanted to start this journal entry, so at least I have something to begin with, where I will add to this over the coming days, with photos of the luthiers, the Expo, more sights, etc. My best and thank you kindly again, for taking the time to read my thoughts. Richard 631-335-5447
Lucio Antonio Carbone