Granada’s beauty and charm lies in exquisite attention to detail equal to that of a luthier.
Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Andalusian city of Granada captivates both its residents and visitors with an extravagance that can only originate from exquisite craftmanship.
Her emblematic monument, the Alhambra, enchants onlookers with stunning handcarved walls. Her patiently and passionately crafted Alhambra beer both refreshes and impresses the city’s blissful, spell-bound inhabitants. And, to set the mood, Spanish guitar fills cobblestone streets with sublimely soft and sweet acoustics which could only result from the craftmanship of a deft luthier.
Granada’s beauty and charm lies in her exquisite attention to detail equal to that of the Alhambra brewery or a luthier who patiently and passionately hand-crafts string, wind, and percussion instruments.
The craftmanship of a luthier – How are string instruments made by hand?
Lutherie is the intricate craft of making string instruments by hand. Luthiers create handmade stringed instruments that are plucked or strummed such as the guitar or the bass, and instruments that are bowed like the violin or the fiddle.
Choosing the wood – Tapping, flexing, and feeling
Choosing the wood is the first step to creating handmade string instruments and requires the same attention to detail and expertise as setting the proper temperature during the fermentation process of Alhambra beer. Just as the temperature changes the taste of the final product, the type of wood used changes the sound of the finished guitar.
Different woods produce different sounds. Luthiers learn to carefully tap, flex, and feel different types of wood to listen to their unique harmonic tones. Over time, experienced luthiers get to know the sound qualities of different species of wood such as spruce, cedar, and rose wood.
Type of wood isn’t the only element of the instrument which influences its sound. Every small detail of the instrument’s shape and pattern has the power to drastically alter the sound of the instrument.
In a guitar, the top piece is the single piece with the most influence of the guitar’s sound. On the underside of the top piece of the guitar, the luthier designs what’s called a bracing pattern.
Then, the luthier glues long, thin pieces of wood to the underside of the top piece of the guitar based on the pattern they designed.
The bracing pattern not only offers support to the thin and fragile piece of wood but also has the capacity to change how the sound travels through the instrument.
Practicing patience and enjoying the process
Making a handmade string instrument is a long, elaborate process that can take months. Becoming an expert luthier takes much longer. Whether a luthier’s specific style relies more upon intuition and experience or upon careful measurements and well-thought out processes, patience is key.
The time required to master the woodworking skills alone is long. Developing a steady hand and a sense for speed and pressure only come from experience and patience.
Nevertheless, at the end of the day, luthiers are artists and craftsman. Just like the brewers of Alhambra beer, they are so dedicated to perfecting their final product that they often lose all sense of time. They simple enjoy the process.