nationality Angelo Vailati

After meeting Angelo Vailati in Italy and later, here in Sevenoaks, I asked him about his background and approach to guitar-making. Later he sent me some of his own notes to assist with generation of this information page. I found his account to be so charming, amusing and sincere that I repeat it virtually word-for-word below:-

I was born on 28 November 1977 in Treviglio (Bergamo), in the north of Italy.

When I was 16 years old I bought my first guitar, but instead of practicing scales and chords, I was much more interested in trying to construct a similar one. On that year I spent the summer making a guitar, as a pastime, with neither notions of lutherie nor tools, and using pieces of wood (beechwood plywood of 2 mm high) recycled from the chairs belonging to the cinema that my dad was running. It was a very bizarre instrument, with screws instead of tuning machine, without fingerboard and with aluminium pieces as if they were frets. When I put the steel strings on the guitar, the body of my instrument started to bend. I can still remember how disappointed I felt! The guitar ended up in the dump.

One day my dad brought me a present from Cremona: a spruce soundboard and a maple set for a small guitar. Probably, my dad understood before me that this hobby was going to become my path. I am very grateful to him for that present. After the failure of my first guitar bent by the tension of the strings, I had not practiced my hobby for years and my set remained waiting for me on the shelf of my room.

In 2001, I eventually decided to recapture my passion and I enrolled in the “Civica Scuola di Liuteria di Milano”, specialising in plucked instruments. It was a professional course that lasts four years, with a lot of practical lessons as well as theory (chemistry, acoustical physics, history of instruments, music, restoration). In the first year, I constructed a small guitar, inspired by a small Torres guitar of 1890 SE141. During the second year I had been making (started making) classical guitars at home: the first one was a copy of a Hermanos Conde guitar, made in cypress, which I sold after short time. From that moment every time I finished a guitar I couldn’t wait to start a new one.

Near the end of my studies, I trained with luthier Enrico Bottelli, who taught me lots of things. The most important one was the passion for this profession. Enrico taught me to be accurate with details. I learned his taste in decoration and wood combinations, as well as an elegant style in shapes. Through listening to recorded music for guitar with Enrico, I discovered the breadth and variety of sounds that are included in the concept of Classical Guitar. In that period I was developing my preference and appreciation for the sound and the look of the traditional Spanish guitar of the luthiers Antonio de Torres, Enrique Garcia, Manuel Ramirez, Santos Hernandez and Domingo Esteso.

In 2006, I attended the “José Romanillos Guitar Making Course” in Sigüenza, Spain, and in 2008 I went to Granada, Spain, to work during the summer for Daniele Chiesa. I learned a lot from Daniele about the profession of guitarmaker and about traditional techniques of Granada’s lutherie. I also gathered from Daniele the importance of professional reliability and a meticulous use of a constructive method to guarantee as much as possible a regular quality to each instrument.

With every new guitar I try to find a more expressive and yelding sound, which is able to convey musical feelings.

In my opinion, a guitar is a good instrument if, by only playing some notes here and there, you sense that those few sounds already create music and suggest other sounds. I think that a good guitar must have deep and “distant” sounds and mysterious echos, which can evoke images and feelings. The sounds has to be alive, warm and able to inspire music. My goal is to create guitars with this idea of sound.

This means in practical terms, to grasp the mastery of the lutherie world and all its variables (woods, thicknesses, gluing techniques, tensions etc.) as well as the relationship between those parameters and the final acoustic result. It is improvement as an artisan and gaining empirical knowledge, only a bit of  scientific, which you can achieve by the experience of work day by day.

This may appear very easy, but I think that not even all the guitars made in the lifetime  of any master luthier of the past were enough to reach the ideal instrument they had in their minds.

Angelo Vailati classical guitars
Angelo Vailati classical guitars

+ 44 (0) 1732 453 523

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