How does one evaluate the tone quality in a guitar ? Evaluating the sound quality of a world-class guitar may at times seem as complicated as valuing an expensive glass of wine. A lot of terms and criterias are existent, however it ultimately comes back to the personal taste and needs of each individual. To keep it simple, I have summarized 5 main criterias in observing guitar sound : balance/articulation, sustain, dynamic range/power and range of tone color.

1. Balance / articulation

Quality guitars need to have the perfect balance between bass, middle and treble, along with the same consistency and intensity in each note, string and fret. Perfect balance is the toughest quality to be achieved by a luthier, and at most times, only exists in guitars crafted by the most experienced.

In observing the balance aspect, one has to pay close attention to the existence of weak notes and wolf notes. Weak notes are certain notes bearing the lowest intensity and punch. Such notes are less responsive towards the attacks of the guitarist’s right fingers.

Wolf notes are the exact opposite, where some notes are simply too responsive and bear short sustain. The resulting sounds tend to ‘explode’, but fade quickly as well. Guitars bearing weak and wolf notes are often a nuisance while playing a musical sentence, causing phrasing to seem weird and uncomfortable. Certain notes in a sentence will sound abruptly strong while others suddenly weak, in other terms, out of control. A lot of classic guitars encounter a common problem, which is the lack of resonance and responsiveness on the third string. This aspect differentiates the quality guitars out of the ordinary.

2. Sustain

This aspect is evaluated by the length of resonance in each note, following the right fingers’ attack. As an advantage, a long sustain allows the player to easily execute a vibrato, resulting in a more vocal-like sound. Nonetheless, is a long sustain always beneficial ? Not quite, it relies heavily on the player’s repertoire.

Flamenco guitar anatomically resembles a classical guitar, however it is actually designed to have short sustain on purpose, as flamenco music mostly contains fast melodies and rhythms, and therefore doesn’t require sustainable note resonance (as every next beat will bear a new note). For players with a rhythmic collection of songs, sustain may not be as significant compared to punch and quick response. Nevertheless, to players whose songs are melodic and sophisticated, sustain becomes at its most important state.

3. Dynamic range / power / loudness

It covers the sound range from pianissimo (very soft) to fortissimo (very loud). Top-notch guitars have a higher ‘ceiling limit’ than the average. This gives players extra freedom to express and form phrasings with more profound volume gradations (imagine an artist given a larger canvas to paint on). Guitars with greater power also brings an advantage while playing a duet or ensemble alongside other instruments with louder volumes.

This aspect is indeed very interesting to ponder over. For decades, luthiers all around the globe have competed to create guitars with the loudest possible sound. This environment triggered the development of remarkable construction techniques such as the lattice brace, composite top, double side, double back and usage of synthetic materials (nomex, kevlar, carbon fibre).

Those innovations have successfully gave birth to guitars with astonishingly great power, though at the same time producing side effects in sound quality, such as the lack of balance, narrow range of tone color, weird timbres, less durable guitars due to very thin soundboards, just to name a few.

Most guitarists and guitar lovers, who have little experience with quality guitars view volume as the main indication of sound quality. The louder the sound, the better it is. This proves to be wrong. I will post an explanation on this by the prominent guitar figure David Collett, down below. (David is the president of Guitar Salon International (GSI); the first, biggest and most prestigious guitar dealer in the world. David is also a guitarist, a disciple of guitar legend Celin Romero, and holds a master degree in guitar education).

4. Projection

Projection defines as the ability of the sound produced by a guitar to reach distances. Sound produced by guitars with good projections can clearly be heard far to the corners of the concert hall, even with the guitarist playing at pianissimo. Projection IS NOT THE SAME as volume/loudness. Guitars with loud volume, may not necessarily have great projection. There are some guitars which produce amazingly loud sound up to a few meters radius, but perform poorly on a larger space like a concert hall, producing overlapping and mumbly sound.

Projection can only be measured in a room with legit acoustics, with a minimum involvement of 2 people. One should stand on a corner to listen, while the other plays the guitar on stage. Therefore, evaluating the projection of a guitar CANNOT be as simple as listening to recordings or watching videos on Youtube. It has to be on the spot, on the concert hall.

5. Range of tone color

This aspect refers to the contrast produced by sound texture from the tasto position to ponticello. Some high-quality classical guitars are able to remarkably produce colorful sound textures and colors. Substantially variant sound will be produced. A minor change in the angle of picking will alter the sound texture vividly. The wide tone color range will in turn give players extra space to express nuance their music. On the other hand, a narrow range may result in a monotonous and bland performance (though this also relies on the repertoire).

Some guitars with modern construction (especially those crafted by luthiers who only look upon volume) surprisingly have a narrow range of tone color.

Out of all the criterias above, which is the most important ? EVERYTHING is. Just imagine, a guitar with very powerful sound, but one that has no balance and bears a lot of weak notes, or a guitar producing beautiful sound, but one that lacks volume. Or perhaps a guitar which seemingly sounds powerful, but bears poor projection, which therefore can’t be heard by the audience. Or even a guitar with untidy craftsmanship, which results in a very unappealing external look. Would you want to pay a high price for guitars lacking such qualities ? All these criterias are COMPULSORY in a quality guitar.

Apart from the criterias above, guitar lovers and major collectors have another quality in mind, which is timbre (sound color). Similar to how each man sounds different from the other, each luthier also has his/her own signature sound. This timbre aspect is often described by interesting and partly hilarious terms, such as deep, dark, bright, penetrating, thick, round, bold, etc.

It is important to remember that timbre is very subjective. Every ear has its own perception. Therefore, I will not dive deeper into this topic.

Menilai Kualitas Gitar - Bagian 2 : Sound/Kualitas Suara

Bagaimana mengevaluasi kualitas tone dalam sebuah gitar? Mengevaluasi kualitas suara dalam sebuah gitar kelas dunia, terkadang sama rumitnya dengan menilai kualitas segelas wine yang mahal. Begitu banyak istilah dan kriteria penilaian yang tersedia, namun pada akhirnya semua kembali lagi ke selera pribadi dan kebutuhan setiap individu. Untuk mudahnya, saya rangkum 5 kriteria mengobservasi suara gitar. Balance / articulation, sustain, dynamic range / power, projection, range of tone color.

1. Balance / articulation
Sebuah gitar yang berkualitas, harus memiliki keseimbangan (balance) sempurna antara bass, middle, treble; dan konsistensi serta intensitas yang sama pada setiap not, setiap senar, setiap fret. Balance yang sempurna merupakan hal tersulit untuk dicapai seorang luthier dan seringkali hanya dapat kita temukan pada gitar yang dibuat oleh pembuat gitar yang sudah sangat berpengalaman.

Dalam mengobservasi aspek balance, ada 2 hal yang perlu kita cermati, yaitu keberadaan weak notes dan wolf notes. Weak notes adalah not tertentu yang memiliki intensitas dan punch paling rendah. Not tersebut seperti kurang tanggap atau responsif terhadap attack dari jari-jari kanan si gitaris.

Wolf notes adalah kondisi sebaliknya. Ada not-not tertentu yang terlalu responsif dan seringkali disertai sustain yang pendek. Suara yang dihasilkan cenderung “meledak” namun hilang secara cepat. Gitar yang memiliki weak notes atau wolf notes sangat menggangu kita bila hendak memainkan sebuah kalimat musik, menyebabkan phrasing terkesan aneh dan tidak nyaman didengar. Ada not-not di tengah kalimat yg mendadak kuat dan mendadak lemah tanpa bisa kita kontrol. Pada gitar klasik, problem yang juga sangat umum ditemui (bahkan di gitar2 yang berharga cukup mahal) adalah senar 3 yang tidak ‘resonant’ dan tidak responsif. Aspek ini yang menjadi pembeda antara gitar yang sungguh berkualitas dengan gitar ‘biasa’.

2. Sustain
Aspek ini dapat dinilai dari seberapa panjang resonansi setiap nada setelah attack oleh jari kanan. Salah satu keunggulan dari sustain yang panjang adalah memudahkan si pemain untuk mengeksekusi teknik vibrato. Sekaligus membuat kalimat lagu terdengar seperti bernyanyi. Namun, apakah sustain yang panjang selalu merupakan hal yang baik? Ternyata tidak juga. Hal ini sangat tergantung pada repertoire si pemain.

Gitar Flamenco meski secara penampakan anatomi luar mirip dengan gitar klasik, namun diketahui justru sengaja dikonstruksi untuk menghasilkan sustain yang pendek. Hal ini berkaitan dengan musik flamenco sendiri yang dipenuhi melodi dan ritmik yang cepat, sehingga tidak perlu resonansi not yang panjang (karena ketukan berikut segera akan diisi oleh not yang baru). Bagi pemain dengan koleksi repertoire lagu-lagu cepat dan ritmik, mungkin sustain bukanlah hal yang terlalu penting, punch dan quick response jauh lebih dibutuhkan. Namun bagi pemain dengan repertoire lagu-lagu melodius dan sophisticated, sustain menjadi hal yang sangat diperlukan.

3. Dynamic range / power / loudness
Aspek ini mengacu pada rentang suara dari pianissimo (sangat lembut) sampai fortissimo (sangat keras). Gitar berkualitas tinggi, memiliki “ceiling limit” yang lebih tinggi dari gitar berkualitas rata-rata. Hal ini memberikan kebebasan lebih pada pemain untuk berekspresi dan membentuk pharasing dengan gradasi volume yang lebih nyata (bayangkan seperti seorang pelukis yang diberi kanvas lebih besar untuk berekspresi dan berkarya). Gitar dengan power yang besar juga akan sangat berguna ketika bermain duet atau ensemble dengan instrumen lain yang lebih kuat volumenya.

Aspek ini adalah aspek yang sangat menarik untuk dibahas. Selama puluhan tahun, luthier-luthier dari seluruh penjuru dunia berlomba untuk menciptakan gitar yang bersuara sekeras mungkin. Hal inilah yang mendorong lahirnya teknik-teknik konstruksi paling mutakhir dari gitar modern seperti lattice brace, composite top, double side, double back, dan penggunaan material sintetis (nomex, kevlar, dan carbon fibre).

Beberapa inovasi tersebut sukses melahirkan gitar yang memiliki power yang besar, namun di saat yang bersamaan terjadi penurunan kualitas suara (kurang balance, range of tone color yang lebih sempit, timbre menjadi aneh dan sengau, umur gitar menjadi pendek karena soundboard terlalu tipis, dsb).

Kebanyakan gitaris / pecinta gitar yang belum berpengalaman dengan banyak gitar berkualitas, menilai kualitas suara sebuah gitar hanya berdasarkan volume semata. Semakin keras suara sebuah gitar, dianggap semakin bagus. Tepatkah cara penilaian seperti ini? Ternyata tidak. Ada satu penjelasan tokoh gitar dunia David Collett tentang hal ini yang nanti akan saya postingkan dibawah. (David adalah presiden dari Guitar Salon International (GSI); dealer gitar pertama, terbesar, dan paling bergengsi di dunia. David juga gitaris. Ia merupakan murid dari gitaris legendaris Celin Romero, dan mengenyam pendidikan gitar hingga master degree).

4. Projection
Projection adalah daya lontar suara yang dimiliki sebuah gitar. Gitar dengan projection yang baik, memungkinkan untuk didengar dengan sangat jelas hingga ke sudut ruangan sebuah gedung koser, sekalipun si gitaris sedang bermain di tingkat pianissimo. Projection TIDAK SAMA dengan Volume / Loudness. Sebuah gitar yang bersuara sangat keras, BELUM TENTU memiliki kemampuan projection yang baik. Ada beberapa gitar yang terdengar sangat keras dalam radius beberapa meter, namun di concert hall terdengar seperti bergumam, suaranya seperti tumpang tindih dan tidak jelas.

Projection hanya bisa diukur di sebuah ruangan dengan kualitas akustik yang baik, dengan melibatkan minimal 2 orang pemain. Salah satu pemain harus berdiri di sudut ruangan (sebagai pendengar) sementara pemain lainnya memainkan gitar di atas panggung. Jadi, menilai tingkat projection sebuah gitar jelas TIDAK MUNGKIN hanya dari mendengarkan rekaman CD atau menonton videonya di Youtube.. Harus diuji langsung di ruangan konsernya.

5. Range of tone color
Aspek ini mengacu pada seberapa kontras gradasi warna / tekstur suara yang dapat dihasilkan pada posisi tasto sampai ponticello. Beberapa gitar klasik berkualitas tinggi, begitu dahsyatnya dapat menghasilkan warna dan tekstur suara yang sangat colorful. Suara yang dihasilkan sangat bervariasi. Perubahan sudut petikan sedikit saja dapat menghasilkan tekstur suara yang beraneka ragam. Rentang tone color yang luas, akan memberikan ruang yang lebih luas bagi si pemain untuk mengekspresikan berbagai nuansa dalam musiknya. Sebaliknya, range of tone color yang terlalu sempit, akan membuat sebuah permainan / lagu terkesan monoton dan membosankan (walaupun hal ini tergantung juga pada jenis repertoire).

Beberapa gitar dengan konstruksi modern (terutama yang dibuat oleh luthier – luthier yang hanya mengejar volume / loudness) seringkali justru memiliki range of tone color yang sangat sempit.

Dari seluruh kriteria penilaian suara tadi, manakah yang terpenting? SEMUANYA penting! Coba bayangkan, sebuah gitar yang bersuara sangat powerful namun tidak balance dan banyak weak notes? Atau sebaliknya, gitar yang bersuara indah, tapi powernya terlalu kecil? Atau Gitar yang seolah-olah bersuara powerful tapi dengan projection buruk dan tidak bisa didengar audience anda? Atau bayangkan ketika anda memiliki sebuah gitar dengan kualitas craftmanship yang buruk (kualitas pengerjaan jorok dan berantakan) sehingga gitar tersebut sangat tidak sedap dipandang mata. Maukah anda membayar mahal untuk gitar-gitar seperti itu? Seluruh kategori tersebut MUTLAK harus dimiliki sebuah gitar yang bagus.

Selain kriteria2 diatas yang sudah saya jelaskan, para pecinta gitar dan kolektor kelas berat memiliki satu kriteria lagi yaitu timbre (warna suara). Seperti halnya suara manusia yang sangat khas dan berbeda setiap orang, setiap pembuat gitar juga memiliki suara khas (signature sound) masing2. Aspek Timbre inilah yang melahirkan istilah yang menarik dan -terkadang- lucu, seperti : deep, dark, bright, penetrating, thick, round, bold, dsb dsb.
Namun perlu diingat, aspek timbre ini bersifat sangat subjektif. Setiap telinga punya persepsi masing2. Karena itu saya tidak akan membahas terlalu dalam aspek ini.

Beberapa informasi tambahan :

Dark sound :

Bright sound :

Sharp and penetrating sound :

Well rounded and smooth sound :

Guitar comparison video :

Salinan email dari David Collett – gitar powerful apakah otomatis pasti bagus? :

Dear Ivan,

I think players are experimenting with new designs just like builders are. Everyone is curious. But in the end, most of the experiments fail in the long run. The collectible guitars – Torres, Hauser, Bouchet, Fleta, Ramirez, Santos, Esteso, etc. are all different from each other to be sure, but they all have good sound. The marketplace today is buzzing with non-traditional guitars, but this has been the case since the 60’s with Kasha, and Schneider. But they have a brief period of popularity then they’re forgotten. One of the most popular guitar makers of the 80’s was John Gilbert (David Russell, Michael Lorimer, and many others played these) – he had some interesting innovations like pin bridge, and a more scientific approach to construction (he had been a machinest for Hewlett Packard), and for 15 years – they were the hottest thing you could get. Many other makers copied some of his design ideas, etc. But today, he’s forgotten. Didn’t make it into the collectible strata. I believe the same will happen with most of these other guitars = they just don’t have the “timeless” qualities that keep them interesting over the long run.

Also most players who play a lot of concerts – they feel more confident if the guitar they play has more vibration (so they can better hear themselves in any concert environment), so this is driving more luthiers to try and create louder guitars. Problem is (as you know) the quality of the sound suffers, and in the end, this is how a guitar is remembered, by the quality of its sound. When you hear recordings, volume doesn’t matter. The sound of the guitar matters. Most people hear guitar music through recordings (CD’s, mp3’s or even youtube) and not in a live setting. So I think all the concern over volume is a bit over-hyped.

I have a Greg Smallman here now. It’s very loud and in this sense, it’s impressive. It also has noticeably good sustain. But it doesn’t have much color – or variety of sounds. So you’re stuck with pretty much this one sound that it produces and in my opinion, it’s not beautiful in the same way as Hauser, Santos or even many modern makers, like Blochinger or even Teodoro Perez. The “double top” guitars to me sound a bit dull and lifeless – they’re also colorless with poor sustain. But they’re loud too! Volume is the biggest attraction here. And I must also say it’s “perceived” volume. The player hears a lot of sound with these guitars, but often it doesn’t travel well in a concert hall, so the audience doesn’t hear much.

I hope this helps. And I hope you could explain about this to Indonesian guitarists.

David Collett
Guitar Salon International

EVALUATING GUITAR QUALITY – Part 1 : Craftsmanship

To guitarists/guitar enthusiasts living in Indonesia, evaluating the quality of a classical guitar can be very confusing. The lack of presence of world-class guitars becomes the main reason why society fails to understand quality guitars. Lack of competent medias and articles across the net worsens this case.

As an example, lots of unclear terms emerge, such as noting a guitar’s sound quality as ‘thick as chocolate’. This is obscure, for the connotation ‘chocolate’ doesn’t comply to sound. How does ‘chocolate’ sound like ? What reference does it have to musical instruments ? Some also imply that all guitars are basically identical, as they bear the same shape. Confusing, isn’t it ?

Through this article, I would like to present practical indications in evaluating guitar quality. Measured and easily-applied criterias. It will certainly be beneficial for people in search of guitars, or anyone who simply craves for valid information on guitars.

It is my dream for Indonesians to embrace the correct understanding of this instrument, which in my opinion, is the best musical instrument ever invented by the human race.


A guitar can be evaluated through 3 criterias : craftsmanship and material quality, sound and playability. A world-class guitar should have wonderful aesthetics (craftsmanship), built out of the best wood (quality of material), produces profound sound (sound) and comfortable to play with (playability). It is similar to buying a diamond ring, as it has beautiful and exclusive packaging on the outside (craftsmanship). As we open the box, we find a gorgeous and precious ring (sound) and it has to perfectly fit our finger (playability). Next, I will dive deeper into these categories.

A. Craftsmanship & Quality of Material

World-class guitars are always built out of the finest materials. For the body and soundboard, only quarter cut and well-aged wood is used.

For the soundboard, which is the heart of a guitar, the use of high quality wood (quarter cut, stiff, light, resonant) becomes an uncompromisable must. Low quality wood (especially triplex), as present in guitars showcased in general Indonesian music stores WILL NOT produce good sound. It is identical to a chef cooking with rotten ingredients, no matter how skillful the chef, it will not bear a quality meal.

Soft wood is the proper type of wood used in guitar-crafting. NOT HARD WOOD. The most common species are spruce, cedar and redwood. These 3 species have a high level of stiffness and are lightweight (the lighter, the easier to vibrate and produce powerful sound).

Quarter cut wood on the body (back & side) is visible through the plain, straight, vertical grains. These cuts ensure long-term stability, bearing the least expansion and depression power, making the wood uneasy to fracture and bear superior resonance and acoustics. Quarter cut is however indeed the most expensive and rare to acquire. It is even almost impossible to acquire quarter cut out of several protected woods, such as the Brazilian Rosewood (Dalbergia nigra).

Meanwhile, flat cut has very interesting ‘wooden veins’, forming attractive patterns. It is a shame that lots of irresponsible guitar producers call this a ‘special figure’ in order to put a higher price, while in fact, these types of wood can easily be acquired at a lower price, some even through amateur e-Bay tenants.

Beneath its pretty face, this wood keeps a handful of flaws, as it has the least amount of stability, the highest amount of expansion and depression power, causing it to easily be fractured and causing stress on the glue joint, etc.

Regarding the soundboard, quarter cut wood has the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio. Great stiffness will allow the soundboard to be constructed as thin as possible, further allowing the guitar to produce a more open and powerful sound. Thin = Light = Easier to vibrate.

On the other hand, soundboards built using flat cut wood have a much lower stiffness rate, hence unable to be constructed in a thin manner. Result wise ? Sound becomes minimal, definitely not a sign of a good guitar.

Speaking of guitars across Indonesia, I have encountered numerous inappropriate qualities. For example, soundboards built using rosewood/mahogany which are unsuitable, resulting in quiet and unresponsive sound, due to excess of weight.

Ornaments and decorations are also visible on some guitars’ soundboards. Soundboard is the heart of a guitar, the source of 95% of guitar sound as a whole, which therefore has to be constructed as thin and lightweight as possible (at times so thin reaching only 1,5 mm on extra-stiff spruce). There should be no ornaments, especially at the lower bout, which is the source of vibration.

Those above are the explanations regarding material quality. Then, what is defined as craftsmanship ? Craftsmanship showcases the woodworking skills embraced by a luthier, usually resulting in a neat, perfect end product.

Quality craftsmanship may also be noticed by the works on the rosette (circle-shaped decoration in the center of the soundhole). Prominent luthiers always handcraft rosettes using petite pieces of wood, arranged beautifully, different and exclusive on every guitar. Rosette identifies as some personal signature of the luthier, while factory-made guitars utilize printed rosettes.

Purfling along the body of the guitar has to be done perfectly, every intersection has to be neat. Interior has to be clean, free of leftover glue. Fret must be well-polished, feeling smooth on bending and vibrato.

High-quality guitars are also finished using the French Polish de Shellac method, producing gorgeous and soft finishing, as well as being lightweight and flexible, thus allowing the guitar to vibrate at its full capacity. Meanwhile, factory-made guitars distributed to music stores utilize chemical finishing, polyurethane. This causes finishing to be too thick and hard, reducing the vibration capacity of the guitar.

In Indonesia, very few luthiers fully embrace the art of French Polish de Shellac, as most handmade guitars still use chemical finishing (polyurethane and nitrocellulose).

Quality production can only be observed while playing the guitar on our very own hands. Nevertheless, to identify in detail, experience in observing world-class guitars in order to value the standard of craftsmanship is also necessary.

Apart from the explanation above, there are still lots of aspects of each part of a guitar to further be analyzed, which in fact, are too long to be written here.

I invite you to contact me personally for questions on guitars. I am fully committed in becoming a valid source of information to deeper educate Indonesian citizens regarding guitars, a field where I specialize in.

****continue to part 2 – explanation on sound****

Menilai Kualitas Gitar 1 - Craftmanship

Bagi para gitaris / pecinta gitar yang tinggal di Indonesia, menilai kualitas sebuah gitar klasik (classical guitar/spanish guitar) bisa sangat membingungkan. Minimnya keberadaan gitar-gitar kelas dunia menjadi penyebab utama masyarakat sulit paham seperti apa standard gitar yang disebut “bagus”. Hal ini diperparah dengan banyaknya informasi atau tulisan apa pun (soal gitar) di dunia maya (bahkan majalah dan buku-buku musik)
yang penulisnya tidak paham atau tidak kompeten dalam pengetahuan tentang alat musik gitar. Continue reading →


Why are most guitars we encounter in Indonesian music stores fairly cheap ?

On the contrary, why are some guitars amazingly exhorbitant ?

A flawed assumption exists, stating that all guitars are basically the same. Before we discuss about sound, craftsmanship, playability and other technical aspects, let us start with the basics, the systems of guitar production. What are the guitars we usually spot inside Indonesian music stores ?

The explanation lies below :

In the guitar-making world, there are 4 categories/levels, sequenced from the lowest to the highest :

1. Factory-made (Yamaha, Cort, etc.)

At this level, production involves a lot of people and applies an assembly system – similar to Lego. The top of a guitar is built by a certain group, while the neck is built by another, and so on. These parts will later be assembled together, forming the final product.

To keep the production cost low, it is often built using triplex, layered by wood-like stickers. Triplex is without question, an unsuitable material for guitars as it is easily bent and bears poor stiffness, causing the soundboard to be too thick, hence making it  harder to vibrate.

This production system focuses on efficiency and mass production speed, as it relies on machinery, producing hundreds of guitars per month. It is quantity-oriented, not quality-oriented. Guitars are never out of stock, able to be purchased without effort at a reasonable price and standard quality for newcomers.

Music stores in Indonesia, unfortunately only supply guitars up to this level, the least, which explains why the majority regards guitar as being a low-class instrument.

Or is it ?

2. Production workshop (Hill guitar company, Ramirez, Bernabe – student series, Contreras, Marin Montero, Sakurai Kohno, Matsuoka, Antonio Picado, Amalio Burguet, Loriente, Alhambra, Asturias, Yamaha – Grand Concert series, etc.)

At this level, a group of skilled craftsman is assembled.

Every individual has a very specific task, for instance, some in charge of the varnish, others in charge of creating the soundbox, etc.

Even though workers may at times jump ship to other sectors as in a soccer team, their creations will in allegedly support one another under the name of the workshop.

This system produces 15-20 guitars every month. If popularity rises, a waiting list of a few months may be formed. If demand further rises, the workshop may recruit new workers to speed up the production (outsourcing), which may apparently create inconsistency (as a result of numerous workers working on a single product).

The quality produced isn’t much of a difference than those of factory-made. However, at this level, the use of wood replaces triplex, at least on the soundboard.

In Indonesia, these guitars are considered rare, some visible on special music stores, uncommon in general ones. Relatively alien to the public.

3. Artisan Workshop

Guitar craftsman are nearly always at a small scale and bear a family bond. Amongst some of the most popular are Hermann Hauser III (currently supported by his daughter – Kathrin Hauser), Romanillos (Jose and Liam Romanillos), Greg Smallman (along with children : Damon and Kym), Ignatio Fleta (along with Francisco and Gabriel Fleta), Jeffrey Elliott (supported by Cyndy Burton), Teodoro Perez (Teodoro and Sergio), etc.
Guitars produced will bear the individual’s name, not a commerce brand.

At this level, quality comes first. These luthier families control each and every process in the making, starting from searching the best woods, drying them for decades before, to paying attention to the smallest details (determining the thickness of every layer, resonance, bracing, etc.). Guitars are fully handcrafted, have a ‘special recipe’ touch of every family and produces consistent, high-quality sound.

However, output becomes limited (up to only 8-12 guitars per year), as so much effort and attention are put on production quality.

This causes prices to rocket, compared to the previously-stated methods, thus becomes hunted by guitar professionals, collectors and enthusiasts. These kinds are also beyond reach in Indonesian guitar stores.

High demand unbalanced by small supply creates a painfully long waiting list, reaching up to 10 years and above.

4. Individual Artisan

We’ve reached the highest level in the art of guitar craftsmanship, where a luthier dedicates his whole life to work single-handedly, having 100% control in crafting each and every instrument. Epically exclusive, bearing names like Daniel Friederich, Andrea Tacchi (who has visited Indonesia), Joshia de Jonge, Jean-Noel Rohe, Edmund Blochinger, Gernot Wagner, Matthiass Dammann, Dominique Field, Tobias Berg, Michel Bruck, Sebastian Stenzel, Eric Sahlin, etc.

At this stage, luthiers focus unanimously on quality, caring least about production output. Some luthiers would even recreate a guitar from scratch if the end result doesn’t satisfy him/her. Out of freedom, creativity and revolutionary ideas often emerge, such as the use of kevlar, Nomex, carbon fibre, other aerospace materials, along with revolutionary construction methods, such as the Double Top (by Gernot Wagner and Matthiass Dammann) – the inclusion of Nomex (an aerospace material) in construction. Andrea Tacchi combines spruce and cedar in creating the soundboard. Greg Smallman invents the Lattice System by assimilating balsa wood and carbon fibre. Many others follow.

Luthiers at this level are obsessed in pursuing quality, hence producing guitars with top quality and consistency, following the revolutionary ideas and soul well-kept inside the masters’ mind.

Production capacity further declines to 5-8 guitars each year. When in poor body condition, it may further decrease to only 1-2 guitars (Daniel Friedrich could only produce 2 guitars every year before pension).

Waiting list well reaches above 10 years, tagged with an exorbitant price. Guitars at level 3 and 4 may as well be an investment. The older the wood becomes, wood quality increases along with sound quality, further increasing the price as well (if kept in good condition).

In Indonesia, these guitars are extremely rare, kept in the hands of collectors at a very small amount. It is unavailable on the public market and won’t land on some random hands.

4 Kategori Gitar Berdasarkan Kualitas Dan Sistem Produksi

Mengapa di Indonesia seluruh gitar yang kita lihat di toko-toko musik berharga murah?

Lalu mengapa ada gitar yang berharga super mahal? Dimana sih letak bedanya?

Ada anggapan keliru dari kebanyakan orang Indonesia yang mengatakan bahwa gitar itu semua sama saja. Sebelum kita bicara soal sound, craftmanship, playability, dan berbagai hal-hal teknis ; mari kita mulai dari hal yang paling mendasar yaitu bagaimana sistem produksi gitar. Gitar-gitar seperti apa yang selama ini kita lihat di toko-toko musik di Indonesia?

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