Madera goes to the village of Nigüelas, 32 kilometers from Granada, where the guitar workshop of the young guitar maker Johannes Tkindt is located. Johannes belongs to a new wave of guitar makers appearing in the city who are not even 30 years old. Very interesting guitar makers who will gradually become the new generation of guitar makers in Granada. This marvelous profession that we are proud to have such a long tradition in our city and to see that it continues to flow incessantly with very young guitar makers who dedicate all their time and enthusiasm to developing their guitars in Granada.
I am measuring the thickness at each specific location on the Top.
And then I’m calibrating the top.
So I want different thicknesses on different parts of the lid.
And I think that’s very important for the sound.
I work with a certain point that I have. A reference point, that I already know from past guitars
And then from there, I calibrate it a little bit differently for each top
Some tops are very stiff and that’s what you’re looking for. but some are a little bit less stiff.
And then you have to adjust the thickness.
So when I get to the point that I have as a reference point, then I’m feeling it.
I roll it all the way on the inside and then I feel how it goes?
I see how it bends.
If it bends in a natural way, the same on both sides, or not.
And also in that sense, if it bends\Ntoo much, or not enough.
then I’m taking a little bit of thickness off specific places.
The thickness of the cedar I’m leaving it a lot fatter, so it’s a little bit less thin, because it’s just softer.
So even though it’s going to be a little bit heavier,
it’s better. Because if you don’t,
the cedar won’t hold the strings and it won’t have the best sound.
I like cedar a lot and I also like spruce a lot. So I really think
that that’s an issue for guitarists.
I think you can make a guitar
of equal quality with both woods, but then there’s a preference, isn’t there?
So the sound is going to be different. There are people who prefer cedar and who only want to play with cedar.
It’s warmer, that’s for sure.
So the sound is warmer, but it’s also a little bit, maybe a little bit less projected.
And I don’t know if it fits itself to all the classical repertoire, because of course, it has a characteristic
like warm and soft. And maybe the spruce…
it seems like it’s kind of more versatile.
It has more possibilities…
But, as long as it’s a good top\Nit’s going to sound good.
But then the characteristic is different.\NPeople ask me more for spruce guitars.
I think that in general,\Nguitarists prefer spruce.
With a few exceptions.
But I personally like\NI really like to work with cedar as well.
And I have a lot of very high quality\Ncedar that is very dry and old
everybody want Rosewood.
And of course, I like it too
It’s a very beautiful wood. But I think there are\Nalternatives that I like a lot too.
For example, pau ferro is something that I love.
Especially in combination with ebony purflings,\Nfor example, there’s something very beautiful about it.
And zebrano wood (zebra wood) I also use it from time to time
It’s like zebra. I’ve made some guitars out of zebrano.
And it’s really nice,
it’s like rosewwod.
It’s not in the dalbergia family, I think, but it’s similar.
It’s just aesthetically very different, and very cool.
Well, the truth is that if I could, I would always use\Nalways Madagascar because that’s what I like the most.
or also Ziricote.\NSee that’s zebrano.
I like it and I think it’s necessary too.
Yes, I think that’s what we have to do, we have to look for other\Nwoods that also have a lot of quality.
That they’re not so scarce, right?
And I think the classical guitar world is a bit…
there’s some old feelings…
People think that only a guitar\Ncan sound very good with Brazilian rosewood .
Some people think so.
I don’t think so.
There’s the density and the molecular structure\Nof each wood, so it has a different grain.
and it’s got, like, patterns inside\Nof the wood, which I think that also takes influence.
The weight. A light wood always
is going to react differently.
Maybe, but of course, there’s very little Indian rosewwod\Nthat has the density
that Madagascar rosewood has,\Nbecause in general it’s a little bit lighter.
I mean, then you find it, the one have very good\Ngood quality, so you can have
the same density. But there’s no difference in quality\Nnecessarily. It’s just that the colour,
the character, the sound is going to be a little bit different.
And that’s a question of taste rather than quality.
Well, I started playing the guitar very early on.
I was sixteen years old and even before that\NI made a few attempts at home.
But it started
from my interest in building things, especially wooden things.
I always had that as a child.
And then I also played the guitar.
Well, I’m still playing a little bit.
And then there was a moment when\NI decided to put those two passions together.
I look at it that way a little bit.
I think I was 15 years old at the time.
And I was out there doing a little bit of research and I found\Na school in Antwerp in Belgium,
where they teach the making of Spanish guitars and also violins\Nand cellos, and double basses.
The school is called ILSA, The International Lutherie School Antwerp.
I started studying there when I was sixteen.
And I spent four years doing\Nbasically one guitar a year by hand.
Totally by hand.
As the teachers there\Nare all more or less disciples of Romanillos,
so they follow Romanillos school very much.
A lot of construction methods\Nthat they apply,
and they taught us, they come from Romanillos.
In fact, several teachers from there\Ndid a course with Romanillos
When Romanillos did them in Siguenza.\NIt was three years of construction.
The first year and the second year\Nwere focused on classical guitar.
The first one I made a small guitar\Ncopy of Torres
The second year I made a classical guitar based on\NRomanillos, but with my own rosette.
And then the third year, They focuses on the construction of\Nguitars or lutes or other period plucked stringed instruments.
I, for example, made a copy of Panormo.
One from 1840 that I still have around.
And of course that’s using the methods of that time.\NOf romanticism period.
And the fourth year was dedicated to the\Nrestoration of guitars and lutes.
I think the main and the most important thing is the practice itself.\NBeing in your workshop and working on your instrument.
But apart from that, they also taught a lot more things there\Nlike knowledge of materials, technologies…
make your own tools. And music and history\Nof music and also acoustical physics, that is to say
a little bit more like the scientific approach.
So, I spent like…
three quarters of the week in the workshop and then\Nthe other stuff was done like in a classroom.
I remember especially in the school that I was slow and the learning\Nwas slow and it wasn’t easy.
From a certain point onwards,\Nthey started to teach you things with machinery as well.
and about making your own tools as I’ve already said.\NI’ve made my own. I myself have made
a machine to trim the purflings, for example.
And well, I think I learned a lot of tricks there,
that make the process faster.
Making the rosettes, making all kinds of\Nornaments by hand, always by hand.
I came (to Granada) once in the third year of the course\Nand then once in the fourth year.
In the third year,
I came for three weeks or something like that, and I came to work\Nwith Stephen (Stephen Hill) and I think from that point on,
it’s when I decided to come to work and live or\Nto try to survive in Granada.
Because I think that the experience of working like that,\Nin a workshop, it is when things go faster
It’s really different\Nthan when you are in the school.
I contacted Stephen when I had to find\Na place to do my internship, because
I knew his work and I think he makes a very good work.\NBut also because he’s in Granada.
And I was very interested in the Granada guitar making school.
And in the making methods from Granada and also,\Nsimply in the life in Andalusia.
I knew some stories, for example,\NI had the Granada School of Guitar Makers book.
And I was reading a lot about all\Nthe guitar makers mentioned in the book,
Especially the great masters that are still around.
And of course, I think that’s what kind of haunted me a little bit.
I think another important thing is that\Naround here, the craftsman and the guitar maker have
let’s say, an status that deserves respect.
So the people, anyone, not just guitarists,\Nhave like a lot of respect for the craft.
And other than that,
I think the Spanish guitar\Nhere is much more alive.
And there are many amateurs and many\Nprofessionals who play the guitar,
and do guitar making, and playing and… more things.
No, it wasn’t easy, but when\NI was still studying in Belgium
I had there in my student flat
my workbench, and I was doing\Nrestorations for musician friends,
and making some guitars at home as well.
So I had more or less the\Nbasic tools of a workshop.
And then when I finished my\Nstudies, I bought a car
and I put all the tools and some guitars and\Nstuff that I wanted to take and I drove the car to here.
Actually after a couple of weeks,\NI found a place in Dúrcal (Granada) and started renting it.
I set up the workshop there. It was kind of provisional.
I didn’t have the machines I have now, I didn’t have the tools,\Nand of course not the wood I have now, and I didn’t have the customers either.
So that was a very tough beginning, so I was doing like\Na little bit of fixing guitars for people in the area…
and starting to get all the moulds, the soleras,\Nand starting to make the first guitar.
I remember the first guitar I made
took me several months.
I mean, it took me a long time because I had\Nto make all the moulds…
And then there was a lot of luck because a person came from\NDenmark, by chance, and he bought me the guitar.
And then I started to make more guitars.
That’s how it went.
Soon all the musicians of Dúrcal knew me.
Because there weren’t so many of them, but around here,\Nthere are musicians everywhere.
And some very good amateurs and some not so good amateurs\Nand some professionals.
I also moved through social networks,\Nbut not so much really,
But some people talked about me around\Nand brought some friends.. and so…
I learned in that year before I came here.
I was kind of getting ready,
I did like some private\NSpanish lessons with little success.
And I didn’t really do much. But when I got here\Nand setting up my workshop, it was necessary, so it was much quicker.
I feel very much at home in this place and I have a lot of friends…\Nand well, let’s say, the friends that I need.
And I’m involved in some musical projects, and I’m very\Nhappy, actually, I think that the life here
for me it’s what I need now
I don’t make a lot of money,\Nbut more or less enough.
I follow the tradition quite a lot,\Nof Torres and so on. I base my work on that.
And then I try to develop my work with small changes\Nbut always with a lot of respect for tradition.
I haven’t yet done, for example, lattice or other types of modern\Nguitar making methods and I don’t intend to do so for the time being.
I’m interested maybe in the future, but\NI don’t see the moment for it now
I focus in developed as much as I can\Nthe traditional fan bracing.
I’d rather develop that. And make those changes,\Nand know what may or may not be better.
Well, for now, I’d rather focus all my attention\Non the traditional fan bracing and try to
draw some conclusions about it.
How it’s better and how it’s not better.
Well, I think in the future\NI’ll try to do other things.
Maybe something new, it doesn’t have to be\Nlattice or something that already exists.
But I take it very cautiously, let’s say,\Nand for the moment I don’t care much about it.
I use a very traditional fan bracing\Nbased on Torres.
And then two closing bars at the bottom.
And then I always put a\Nlittle bar under the bridge.
It always goes just under the bone of the bridge.
And then, taking that bracing, let’s say traditional,\NI’m always adapting it a little bit to each guitar.
I mean, I change the length of the bars\Nand the height, and the width…
And also especially the inclination of each one of the struts.
Everytime I change it quite a bit
This is my classical guitar plan.
The fan bracing.
And then, as I say, I’m adapting it to each guitar.
And this is the one for flamenco guitar.
The struts in the classical guitar are much more inclined,\Nexcept for the strut in the middle,
while in the flamenco they are nearly straight.
And thinner too.
I think the inclination has a lot to do with it.\NThe less inclined then
the less resistance it offers to the top.
Then, if it tilts less
the idea is to create a faster sound response.
So, for example, on the side\Nof the basses, I open it up a little bit more.
That is to say,
I leave it with less inclination and\Nshorter and lighter.
I mean, I do different bars on the\Nthe bass side than on the treble side.
And then I think that’s how you create a\Nspecific sound, where the bass
sound with presence…
And then trebles that don’t\Nlack in projection or sustain.
I think there’s a lot more parameters.
I think everything you do on the guitar\Ninfluences the final sound.
But of course, most of it’s in the top and I think that\Neven the thing that changes the most is the thickness of the top.
That’s where it starts, isn’t it?
I mean, if you make it too fat, it’s never going to sound right,\Neven if you put a very light bracing on it.
So I think you start with that. And then having\Nthe right thickness and the right weight of the top,
then I think the struts is what influences a lot.\NBut also the bridge, the weight of the bridge, the position…
I think the template (plantilla) of the guitar,\NI think that doesn’t take so much influence
It probably does, but as far as I can tell,\Nit doesn’t change that much.
I think that back & sides\Ninfluence a lot on the sound colour.
and on the timbre, but not so much on the sound creation.
I try to make it thin.
Especially the sides, I make them with about 1.8mm thick\NExcept for the cypress, which I leave a little bit thicker.
But yes, 1.8 and the back\NI take it to 2mm. But that I also change…
Of course I do.
Each wood has a different weight
So, for a rosewood back\Nit can be 2 or 1.9mm
But for cypress it’s very light.\NSo I think that also has an influence.
And also the neck… and everything…
It can’t be the same.
You’re not going to find the same wood, that’s very difficult.\NAlso its age, the aging of it.
Although you make it exactly the same
It won’t be the many years that\Nthe guitar you copy has been around.
I think that has a lot to do with it.
Yeah, it does.
And if someone plays it a lot,\Nthat also influences it, but even without…
It’s that you’re working with a raw material that\Nis alive (wood), and it’s always different material.
And that’s a factor that you can’t completely control.
And that’s why I just don’t think\Nyou can’t replicate an instrument.
I use several templates.
I have a template that is more or less\Nbased on Romanillos’, but it’s not the same anymore.
It’s very similar, but it’s not the same.
And then another template that’s based on Torres.
The same, it’s not the same, but it’s more or less the same.
I don’t think so.
I mean, I’m not interested in making replicas because,\Nespecially in terms of aesthetics,
I like very much inventing my own\Nrosettes and other ornaments.
So, well, I find it boring.
make replicas, although I’ve done it a few times.
But never an exact or correct replica.
I try to adapt the rosette and\Nthe purflings ornaments to the wood itself
and to the natural colours and texture of the wood.
So I’m trying to get those colours\Nand that line. And make a reflection of it
on that design that I do. And the truth is that\NI really like to play also with
different types of marquetry and inlays.
I’m trying to make a design,
my own unique design. And using wood rather than\Nveneers, I mean, for example, I make the purflings
which are taken from wood that I find around.
They’re not veneers, but wood pieces\Nthat I’ve found. For example, padouk, walnut…
maple, wenge… they’re leftovers that I have around\Nand then I use them.
I like all the colours that are natural ones.
There are also some things that are tinted\Nbecause you can find them in a natural way,
but I prefer it always natural.
I try to make a different rosette for each guitar.
But the difference is usually a small detail.
Because I think it’s a lot of work
to make a new one for each guitar,\Nbut yeah, I bring out new designs.
So for each guitar I’m changing them\Na little bit and applying same components…
but in a different order.
I’m looking for an intimate sound,\Nlike the old Torres guitars
which are really sweet and pleasant
And what I’m not specifically looking for is strong volume.
I think a lot of times when you gain on volume,\Nyou lose that quality that old guitars have.
And I prefer them to sound sweet and beautiful rather than loud.
I think some volume is necessary.
That is to say,
You can’t make a guitar that\Ncan’t be heard. But you also can’t…
I’m not looking for a higher volume,\Nhigher than classical guitars normally have.
So, for example, I’m not interested in\Nexperimenting with double tops. Well though,
who knows, there will come a time…\Nbut in my experience,
a lot of volume making those\Nthings, but then
I’m not really attracted to the sound they have.
Anyway, I haven’t really studied them deeply either
because I haven’t made them.
And I’m not going to make them, I think.
Well, I think my job is craftsmanship. Which has\Na part that is artistic as well, isn’t it? The aesthetic part.
But above all it’s craftsmanship. And then the guitar\Nis an object that helps the real artists,
the musicians, to develop their art.