Featured Luthier: Gregory Byers, Willits, California

When he began making guitars, the former biology PhD attended a workshop by Jose Romanillos and then was mentored by John Gilbert. This set in motion Greg’s life long mission to blend tradition and modernity, the tension between the loved sound of the Spanish guitar and the contemporary need for loud guitars.

“To me the character and timbre of the sound must evoke the past, with sweetness and warmth, and with the alluring quality that naturally draws people to the guitar and makes our instrument unique. But the guitar also needs to have a big enough sound to satisfy the modern emphasis on loudness.

Although his guitars have many modern features, including raised fingerboards and lattice bracing, there is no synthetic material in his guitars—they are all wood.  “I want my guitars to be rich yet clear, with deep basses and a strong, sustaining first string.”

Featured Luthier: Randy Angella, Concord, California

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Beginning with Art Overholtzer’s “How To Build A Classical Guitar,” Randy built several guitars before beginning to develop his own design through experimentation. The influences of Craig Carter and Michael Lorimer helped Angella move in the direction of two luthiers he came to admire greatly: Hermann Hauser for their beauty and technical brilliance and Ignacio Fleta for their deeply expressive sound. Over the years, Angella has built guitars for many prominent players, including: Michael Lorimer, Eliot Fisk, David Tanenbaum, Manuel Barrueco and Jorge Caballero.

The Angella guitar residing in our HGF Featured Luthier display cabinet at SFCM is made with 50 year old Brazillian Rosewood back and sides, a German spruce top and a string length of 650 mm. There are seven fan braces.

“While there is a tendency to evaluate guitars from a limited number of criteria–volume, sustain, sound, ease of play–I prefer to concern myself with a different perspective. I am more concerned with the growth and vitality of the Classical Guitar as a whole. My intention is to build a guitar that is well enough organized to allow the player to perform written music as it is written, without being restricted to guitaristic limitations. Pleasing not only to those that love the guitar for the lovely thing it is, but also to those that love the music as it is written.”
–Randy Angella

Featured Luthier: Pepe Romero Jr., San Diego, California

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Pepe Romero Jr. was born in 1978 into a family that lives the Spanish guitar—Los Romeros, “The Royal Family of the Guitar.” From an early age Pepe fell under the guitar’s spell, and was introduced by his family to some of the world’s greatest guitars by historic makers–like Antonio de Torres, Santos Hernandez, Domingo Esteso and Herman Hauser–and by contemporary legends of the luthier’s art–Miguel Rodriguez, Manuel Contreras, Jose Romanillos, Edmund Blochinger, among others. Pepe grew to believe that these makers set the standard for how a guitar should be made.

Pepe has made 240 guitars to date. Each one is hand-crafted and built using traditional Spanish methods. His guitars are in great demand by concert guitarists and collectors worldwide.

“To me, building guitars is about making beautiful music. The guitar and player come together to make the most beautiful music possible. I want to make a guitar that enables the guitarist to get all the tonal qualities that enable him or her to express themselves totally freely. And I want my guitars to have the perfect balance between beauty and power, to feel great in the hands and look amazing to the eye as well. More than just a tool, the guitar should be an inspiration to the player and the listener.”
–Pepe Romero Jr.

Featured Luthier: Alan Perlman, San Francisco

perlman-picAlan Perlman was born in New York City in 1952. Falling in love with the guitar after attending performances by Segovia, Julian Bream and Sabicas, he became entranced by the guitar’s possibilities. He began an apprenticeship as a teenager with the New England luthier Clark Voorhees.  Another influence, the luthier Abraham Wechter, led to Alan’s interest in a broad range of guitar styles, like his 13 string guitar modeled after the guitar Wechter made for John McClaughlin. Perlman’s 11-string guitars and his 19-string baroque and classical-style harp guitars are also popular. His repair and restoration work on vintage instruments is much in demand. Perlman serves on the Advisory Committee of HGF.

“My central goal is to create an instrument through which the player can fully express the most delicate nuances and the fullest range of tonal expression– a guitar that will not falter from whisper quiet passages through the most demandingly powerful ones.” –Alan Perlman