FLAMENCO BLANCA Guitar by Marcelo Barbero, Madrid, 1955
Copy by Ian Watchorn 2015
The original guitar was sent to me for restoration several years ago from New Zealand. Because the musical result of the restoration was impressive – an enormous, very rich and varied sound with great clarity and focus in all registers, I have since wanted to copy it. The original Barbero has a very particular “Spanish “quality to the sound, which made it clear why Barbero is considered such a great maker.
The copy was an experiment on my part – my first “classical guitar” - and the thing that really got me interested was that the original is so simply and lightly constructed. The 5 fan bars and the 2 cut-off bars below the soundhole is a layout that can be found in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The light, but robust construction, completely hand-made, down to hand-cut purfling and edging, harks back to another time. But it is not self-conscious “jewellery in wood”. It is quickly made, traditionally assembled, freehand, without a mould. It is simple in its construction and adornment and reminiscent of a much earlier instrument making ethos. There are also signs that materials were not so easy to find in those days – for instance, the fretboard is jointed out of 2 unequal pieces of ebony.
But, the intuitive balance and control of materials and processes reflects tremendous skill and experience, deeply rooted in a tradition that can be traced back four centuries or more. I have tried to make my copy reflect this ethos and hopefully, in this way, approach something like the tonal aspiration of the original.
My copy of the Barbero guitar went missing during transport between Melbourne and Sydney and to dat has not been recovered. If you see it or have any information I would apreciate your contacting me.