Lazzarini talks in this new Madera video about many aspects to take into account in the construction of guitars and therefore also in the correct choice of the guitar that the guitarist needs depending on his tastes and needs. Choice of woods, types of shapes for the neck, the 20th fret, aesthetic issues that make an instrument unique, the importance of the design of the head, the guitar as an open instrument in its evolution, the identity of the guitar maker, the search of the guitar maker for a sound with which he identifies himself... and much more.
Last April Lazzarini brought us to MaderaGuitarras another of her instruments to add to the list of guitars that we have already had the privilege of having in Madera for our clients made by her. (Check here for all info about this new Madera guitar arrival: Paula Lazzarini 2023 )
And here in this interesting video, Lazzarini introduces to us this new instrument and we can enter into her particular world of construction where the personalization and originality of the instrument is very strong and one of her main characteristics.
It is always very interesting to listen to the explanations of one of today’s great guitar makers of her generation on the world scene.
I am Paula Lazzarini
I am a guitar maker
This is my last guitar
It’s just finished.
It is a traditional Spanish model on a personalised custom fan bracing
This last guitar I made is for MaderaGuitarras
A guitar based on a template and custom model inspired in
Daniel Friederich of the French guitar making school.
It is a guitar with a red cedar top
A red cedar that comes from Canada
made of Indian rosewood. Also with a personalised decoration
with maple wood.
The polish I always use is shellac.
Applied with “muñequilla”. It is also known\Nfrench polish
I also use a rosette with mosaic patterns.
And in this case the same mosaic that I used\NI also put it in the decoration of the bridge.
This is the same model of guitar with which I entered I took part in the fourth competition of guitar makers in Granada
“Antonio Marín Montero” and it is the winning model of this competition.
I really like to work with a scale lenght
There is very little difference between the most traditional scale that we know, which is the 65 centimeter scale, because sometimes we
yes, practical result, but also some guitar string\Nfactories don’t work with the measurements of the scale
in centimeters but with inches. And some strings
..quite a lot of them
are already calibrated
in 25.5 inches and is just the one
which represents the centimeter measurement.
This is the 64.8 scale length.
That forces me in a way to think of the instrument\Nin a different way, not a 65cm scale length instrument.
It also forces me to customise the scale on the fingerboard and on the location of the bridge.
and also the general location of the internal bracing.
So, there are some provisions that I change
with a guitar when I’m working the 65 cm scale length, which is the most standard, or when I’m working the 64.8 scale .
I feel very comfortable working with the 64.8
note on this last guitar I made\Nhas only 19 frets.
It’s not normal in me.
I really like to use the 20th fret.
That it’s not compulsory to use it,\Nit’s just that some guitar makers
make the fret 20 a little bit as a habit,\Nsometimes because the musician asks for it.
And let’s say that the 20th fret is more like a fashion\Nthat was installed in the 80’s years onwards.
Because actually there’s very little guitar playing that requires\Na 20th fret, something by composers Barrios, Regoni, etcetera.
there aren’t too many compositions or arrangements\Nfor guitar that require the 20th fret.
Well, in this case, it’s one of my few guitars, with 19th fret.\Nonly few guitars.
And that gives it an interesting quality because it forces,
in this case, we have a\Nhole diameter
slightly larger than when we placed the fret 20.
There are guitar makers that put in even more frets as well.
Working on the curves of the neck of the guitar.
I always like to be able to talk about it\Nalso with the musicians.
If you prefer a type of curve that’s either type\NC. Or type D where we can notice a
flatter part here and
round towards the junction of the neck and the fingerboard.\NOr if we want a whole round curve.
So this ergonomic part is very personal for the musician as well.
This is interesting when it comes to deciding: – well, I’d love to have a guitar with these features-.
That’s one of the main questions from a musician\Nthat I need to know because
we can then make an instrument
much more personalised for the person who is going to use it.\NIt’s very important because the guitarist
spends a lot of hours with the guitar in his hands.
His body is in contact with the guitar and\Nit’s very important, it’s not just for comfort.
Because on a technical level they can also come across\Nwith an obstacle that they have to change something of the
movement that they’re already used to due to the neck shape.
If they already know that they need a neck with\Nrounded shapes or a slightly flatter part at the centre of the neck.
So, for the guitar maker\Nit’s essential to have that information.
In this case, I worked with a D-shaped curve\ND-shaped curve because, you know, it’s comfortable
I like to work it like that. And I think\Nthat the client is going to be very satisfied.
When I have a new guitar project
I like to select the woods first
because we find, for example,\Nin this case, the indian rosewood
that we have different qualities, patterns…
direction of grain, and so on.
So, what I’m looking for
is how much sustain I get from it
How much sustain in a wood, even when it’s thick,\NI can find before I use it.
And that allows me to be able to see the quality of the\Nwood when I’m rethickening it, sanding it out.
and see how much flexibility it has. Because we’re not looking for\Na wood that’s just stiff and strong.
We also need the wood to accompany the movement,\Nthe tension of the strings… and so many things.
there are certain limits and parameters that it would be\Ngood to always take into consideration.
That it should be flexible, resistant and that we should also be able to find\Na little sustain at the beginning
That is, how much it sustains when you hit it
I mean, we give a little knock on the wood and\Nwe find that that sound has a duration.
It doesn’t die instantly. When I’m looking for flexibility,\Nthe stiffness and the sustain when hitting the wood…
I apply that to the guitar top as well as the guitar back.
I apply the same on the neck too because…
all the parts of the guitar sound. Absolutely everything.
There is no part of the guitar that does not accompany the vibration,
,to the movement.\NNot only the sound is in here.
It’s a whole ensemble.
The inner bars.
Absolutely everything comes into play.
So, I’m looking at the neck as well
I’m looking for a wood that’s not too heavy and not too light.
I’m also looking for it to have a good stroke,
A good sustain. Because that\Nmeans that it’s going to transmit
longitudinally with a certain speed.
often when we haven’t worked on it yet…\Nit looks like a wood that only absorbs and gives nothing.
But we’re also looking for a wood that’s very\Ncompact and gives something in the stroke.
So that there’s some sustain sound. The bridge\Nis very important. The wood of the bridge is very important.
need look for quality wood
that it’s strong, that it has a good grain.
It has to have a good sound.\NIt is always very, very important.
The construction of the head, for example…\Nwhen I make my guitar heads…
is a little bit particular, because it has…\Nit’s not just two pieces of wood glued together,\Nbut I work with more pieces of wood.
wood that on the one hand, I can reinforce the head,\Nbut also an aesthetic part that I like very much.
I like to find a neck grain that finishes
in another wood that has another continuity.
And then something that over time has been appearing, it’s\Nmy head design model.
In guitar making
it is customary that every guitar maker, every builder\Nhas a little bit of his own head design
And in this case, like many things, this design came out cause\NI had cut the wood wrong. It was a bad cut that I made.
And then I spent an afternoon looking\Nto improve that head. And this design came along.
Yeah, let’s say it was a cutting error.
Because my first guitars
had a different head.
And when I cut wrong, I don’t know how it was…
I don’t remember now, well, I started to see\Nhow to fix it.
So, through the error I found something\Nthat I liked that is very personalised.
That over time… Even with my\Nteacher, I remember that he had a lot of…
he had a lot of biography of pictures of guitar heads\Nfor many years, and he says to me: -“I never saw this design,
you can say it’s your original”.
And well, it’s actually quite original.\NBecause I also looked for it on a lot of guitars
and I’ve never found anything like it.
And I’ve been doing it\Nfor about 10 years or so this design
a little over 10 years.
This head design, even the opening of the channels, is not classic.
The most normal is to make a simple round or square
that goes in flat.
And in this case, it has\Na one-sided curve.
And that allows me to, for example, in the case of the\Nsixth string which is a thicker gauge
I can go quietly into the tuning machine without touching wood.
It is not in contact with anything that\Nalter the sound of the string.
And I find that’s actually quite comfortable for me.
Doing a string entry with a curve
only one side curved. Not two sides curved.
And this came up when we were working with\NRicardo Louzao.
He was my guitar maker teacher. And it was part of the legacy of his work\Nto do this.
we always saw it in his guitars, not in others.
And it was part of the legacy of being\Nin his workshop and sharing so many hours of
workshop there with Ricardo.
this head entry.
And well, I went on, always with this one,
this idea of making the curve to just one side.\NPossibly now we can find it in
other guitars nowadays, but yes, there were very few of us who were\Nmaking the only one side curve.
Well at a certain point in time, always in the\Nhistory and nowadays it also happens, that guitar makers,
we try to go after a sound that represents us.
A sound that is part of our identity.\NOur quest above all, I mean…
is what we look for in a guitar, and what we can differentiate ourselves\Nfrom other guitars.
So, I, in my personal case,\Nif I can say that there’s something that I like
in my guitar is that it’s a warm sound guitar .
Even when I work on cedar tops\Nor I work on spruce tops,
I don’t look for sounds that are extremely bright.
I think that\Nextremely bright,
that much too bright for a musician
I see that as…
I think that is out of control for the musician.
So I always work from bringing a sound that’s warm,\Nthat’s not a metallic sound either.
Though I like my sound to have a good volume flow.
classical guitar is not about volume,\Nbut rather it is about the quality of the timbre,
the quality of the sound that I can work with.
And there we’re going to find\Nharmonics, colours of many kinds.
On the guitar, we work three and a half octaves\Nthat’s the register that the guitar gives us.
and that’s where we get colours and textures.
Diverse, absolutely diverse.
And above all, we have the possibility of working\Non an instrument that is harmonic and melodic.
At the same time, we can be doing a song\Nand at the same time, I don’t know… we can incorporate something and
all of a sudden we’re playing a tango.
I don’t know… we can play
other tunes, we can make chords…
The guitar allows us to really move freely.
We can look for even more colours as we get to know\Nmore the instrument spending time with it. Then we need to offer a sound
where the musician can feel free. A\Nguitar that can be…
can make him express himself. An instrument that allow to express oneself.
It’s part of the process also of the makers.
Eventually, we start to have\Nconstructive parameters where we point
to our personal sound. And a lot of times the woods…
we have them… that it’s not because\NI know the wood, and I work it, and that’s it…
No, we have to
work twice as hard because we know that we want to\Nlook for a particular sound.
And we never work with the same thickness.
Or with the same bars heights… every guitar,\Nevery guitar back… doesn’t have the same thickness.
it’s important that it’s personalised, that it’s\Nsearched, that is to say that there is a search behind it.
A search for the sound that represents the maker.
And the last thing I would add. Regarding\Nto the guitar makers guitar heads,
in general, it is possibly one of the
only pieces of the construction\Nthat is quite free.
There is a certain freedom in being able to\Nregister there our seal.
One of the first things that I always heard when I entered\Ninto the world of lutherie is not to read the instruments labels
look at the guitar heads, the heads of the instruments.\NBecause it’s going to give us a lot more information about the work…
of the work of the maker than just the label.\NThat’s why it’s important that we have
a certain identity through our design,\Nbecause when we come to get the guitar that
we like, our sound approach,\Nthere are already things that the rest of the instrument
like the fan bracing, we can’t change it.
We don’t change it.
The only thing we have left to say something,\Npersonalised is our guitar head design.
when I came to this design, I stayed working on this design\Nfor many years and I’m still working on this design today.
because it’s, let’s say, it’s original.
I like it, I feel comfortable working on it.
and that’s the part where we have the most freedom\Nwe have as guitar makers.
It’s not the same in other instruments.
There are instruments that are already standardised, that are already\Nmade like that, and no matter how much the maker
wants to change some of the aesthetics, he can’t do it because the instrument is\Nis absolutely closed.
It’s not an instrument that evolves over time.
it’s been centuries since…
it’s a typical case of violins.
In other words, violin is an instrument\Nabsolutely closed in its evolution.
And no, there’s no place where it can be modified.
I can’t modify an f…
I cannot modify the layout…
I cannot modify…
the alma, I can’t modify…
Not the head, you can’t modify…
Let’s say it’s closed.
The canon of guitar construction is an evolving instrument.\NAn instrument that is still evolving.
That’s perhaps why we find so many contemporary models now.\NBut when we find
our own model and our own guitar proposal,
well, it’s important what I consider\Nalso of our proposal is to close it with
a personalised design. With a custom design\Nbridge, for example, on my bridge
generally, the tieblock, where it is tied the string,
has a slight inclination.
We’re going to find it always in many ways,\Nwhether it’s straight, curved or inclined.
I mean, there’s really a lot of different ways of doing it.
let’s say that in this part we also have\Na certain freedom to be able to choose
always with different ideas and theories
I mean, if it’s round, the string plays better.
If it’s inclined, the string plays differently.
If it is straight, the string is in\Ncontact of the whole part …
So there are certain ideas of each maker.
And it seems to me that they’re all valid.
But let’s say those are the only parts
of the instrument that leaves us\Na little bit more freedom in taking
design decisions and nothing else.