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Guitar building course - South Africa
Every Thursday evening for eighteen months a group of us would head south along the Cape Peninsula to the guitar workshop where Matthias Roux and his team of luthiers inducted us into the fine art of guitar-making. Very soon this became the high-point of the week for me. Starting each session at around 7 PM in the late evening sunshine of summer through the darkening twilight of autumn to the blackness of winter evenings and back again into the light, six (or was it seven?) unique guitars went through their gestation cycles. The completely different styles of these guitars, the varying combinations of wood selected by the course participants, and the uniqueness of the sound that each instrument finally produced, reflects the personalities and aesthetic choices of their makers. Most of us were not skilled craftsmen. Consequently the exceptional fineness of the finishes and quality of workmanship achieved must be attributed to the brilliance of the luthiers that ran the course and guided us through each stage in the construction of the guitars.

One of the lovely aspects of the course was participating in the evolution of each of the other participants’ guitars, sharing their decision processes as they selected design features, and in the process getting to know them well. We were each making our own guitar but we were also involved in the making of the others as we watched and encouraged and criticised and generally participated in each other’s processes. Often at the end of the Thursday sessions we were reluctant for it to end and would head off for late night pizzas in Simonstown.

The level of skill and patience required to make a fine guitar went beyond anything I had experienced. Fortunately the course was a stepwise progression into this art which became a joyous process that I looked forward to each week and would miss for nothing. I imagine it required even higher levels of patience from Matthias and his team but they clearly enjoyed it greatly. I am very grateful to them for that experience.

And I love my guitar. It sits on a stand in the lounge as though participating in all conversations. My eye falls on it and I feel a warm glow in my heart. And then I pick it up and strum those nylon strings and I am always surprised by the brightness and the clarity of the sound, and the volume if I decide to be expressive and hit the strings hard. And I stroke the smoothness of it and feel the bevelled edge of African Blackwood that sits softly under my arm and I marvel at its beauty.

What sort of guitar is it? It is a flamenco guitar: light woods, bright sound, simple in appearance. Colin Rock, one of the luthiers working with Mathias, had made a beautiful guitar contrasting light and dark woods and I wanted a similar effect. So it has an Engelmann spruce top, Monterey cypress back and sides with a beautiful flare in the wood that only became fully apparent after varnishing; Spanish cedar neck, African ebony finger board and headstock veneers with African blackwood rosette, bridge and bindings. Dark almost black woods contrast with the blonde light woods that give it its bright sound with a thin red line in the bindings around the body and neck the only colour. Brass inlays of San/Bushman figures dance on the rosette depicting the transformation of the hunter-shaman, falling into trance and becoming a therianthrope, half-eland, half-man as he enters the spirit world. Flamenco African style.

I highly recommend anyone interested to take this journey into the art of guitar making. It could change your life!Boetie Toerien – Flamenco African Style – Casimi Guitars Course

Every Thursday evening for eighteen months a group of us would head south along the Cape Peninsula to the guitar workshop where Matthias Roux and his team of luthiers inducted us into the fine art of guitar-making. Very soon this became the high-point of the week for me. Starting each session at around 7 PM in the late evening sunshine of summer through the darkening twilight of autumn to the blackness of winter evenings and back again into the light, six (or was it seven?) unique guitars went through their gestation cycles. The completely different styles of these guitars, the varying combinations of wood selected by the course participants, and the uniqueness of the sound that each instrument finally produced, reflects the personalities and aesthetic choices of their makers. Most of us were not skilled craftsmen. Consequently the exceptional fineness of the finishes and quality of workmanship achieved must be attributed to the brilliance of the luthiers that ran the course and guided us through each stage in the construction of the guitars.

One of the lovely aspects of the course was participating in the evolution of each of the other participants’ guitars, sharing their decision processes as they selected design features, and in the process getting to know them well. We were each making our own guitar but we were also involved in the making of the others as we watched and encouraged and criticised and generally participated in each other’s processes. Often at the end of the Thursday sessions we were reluctant for it to end and would head off for late night pizzas in Simonstown.

The level of skill and patience required to make a fine guitar went beyond anything I had experienced. Fortunately the course was a stepwise progression into this art which became a joyous process that I looked forward to each week and would miss for nothing. I imagine it required even higher levels of patience from Matthias and his team but they clearly enjoyed it greatly. I am very grateful to them for that experience.

And I love my guitar. It sits on a stand in the lounge as though participating in all conversations. My eye falls on it and I feel a warm glow in my heart. And then I pick it up and strum those nylon strings and I am always surprised by the brightness and the clarity of the sound, and the volume if I decide to be expressive and hit the strings hard. And I stroke the smoothness of it and feel the bevelled edge of African Blackwood that sits softly under my arm and I marvel at its beauty.

What sort of guitar is it? It is a flamenco guitar: light woods, bright sound, simple in appearance. Colin Rock, one of the luthiers working with Mathias, had made a beautiful guitar contrasting light and dark woods and I wanted a similar effect. So it has an Engelmann spruce top, Monterey cypress back and sides with a beautiful flare in the wood that only became fully apparent after varnishing; Spanish cedar neck, African ebony finger board and headstock veneers with African blackwood rosette, bridge and bindings. Dark almost black woods contrast with the blonde light woods that give it its bright sound with a thin red line in the bindings around the body and neck the only colour. Brass inlays of San/Bushman figures dance on the rosette depicting the transformation of the hunter-shaman, falling into trance and becoming a therianthrope, half-eland, half-man as he enters the spirit world. Flamenco African style.

I highly recommend anyone interested to take this journey into the art of guitar making. It could change your life!

Guitar building course Testimonials

Boetie Toerien – Flamenco African Style

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