Meeting with a guitar-maker

Atelier Florian Thomas:

Sr Thomas Florian is a stringed-instrument maker working in Talence (near Bordeaux) whose passion is to make the sound resonate from the strings and the wood of guitars. You can find a link to his website in the section collaborators / institutions or by clicking here

what is a stringed-instrument maker ? Stringed-instrument makers make, repair and restore any musical instrument that contains strings; from hurdy-gurdy to modern guitars. The stringed-instrument makers specialized in guitar dedicate themselves to plucked instruments that include acoustic, electro-acoustic or electric guitars, but also spinets or zithers. Whether electric or acoustic, the guitar is the object of constant research in order to optimize the instrument while preserving the strong manufacture tradition.

French guitar-makers have precious competencies and know-how, and occupy a good place in the premium market. Every guitar is unique. Whether guitars are made in small series or as a single copy, making a guitar is always the result of a meeting between the craftsman and the musician, and should be intimately related to the musical repertory and play of the latter. The wood species used for the instrument determine its tone colors. They can be chosen for esthetic pruposes but must also respect specific physical, mechanical or acoustic requirements (elasticity, transmission of vibrations, hardness, …etc).

What services does the Florian Thomas workshop offer to clients ? Guitar manufacture only consitute a part of this activity. Florian Thomas workshop also make maintenance, repair and restoration of every type of guitars (classic / folk / electric / electro-acoustic …etc).

Mr Thomas Florian / Atelier de lutherie Florian Thomas
Mr Thomas Florian /  Florian Thomas Workshop

History of the guitar:

The Moors brought the first guitars in Spain during the 5th century. the modern guitars appeared in that country following successive evolution. Although the guitar is related to the luth, these two instruments followed divergent evolution and belong to distinct families. The gittern was a popular instrument during the 14th century in Western Europe. It was a relatively small gut strung round-backed instrument, with 4 ropes, and usually played with a quill plectrum. In their dictionnary of the musique in 1854, Escudier brothers explained that the origins of guitar are unclear. It is generally thought that this instrument could be as old as the harp. It was brought by the Moors in spain and spreaded in Portugal and Italy. it was popular during the reign of Louis XIV but this period lasted only a short time. After a nenewal of the past glory at the beginning of the 19th century in Northern Europe, thanks to several talented artists, guitar was again abandoned and relegated as a domestic intrument by the piano. The low sound volume of the guitar was indeed not recommended for its use during concerts.

The spanish instrument-maker Antonio de Torres gave to the guitar in 1874, the shape and dimensions of our actual modern guitars. During the 20th century, a wide variety of guitars were created based on the model Torres. Christian Frederick Martin, a German guitar-maker who emigated in United States in 1883, created a series of instruments that would constitue the first guitars “folk”  after the transition to metallic ropes at the start of the 20th century. In the same country, the company created by Orville Gibson modified the guitar by giving them the convex shape of the violin, with the tailpiece seperated from the bridge. The invention of electric guitars in the 1930’s, gave a new energy in the use of this amazing family of instruments.

Source: INMA / « Histoire et origine de la guitare »

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