Atelier Jacky Walraet, luthier
How it started
At the age of 16, I took up the guitar. I was an avid
fan of guitar heroes like Carlos Santana, John
McLaughlin .../... Later on I discovered Jim Hall
with his sweet, intriguing lines and mellow tone ...
As a youngster I went to art school and i took
various extra courses as well (painting, ceramics,
sculpture, etching). To earn a living I had all kinds of jobs, but all where handiwork skills were required...
In my thirties, the pieces of the puzzle that my life had been thus far - the skills I had required, my love of art, music, guitars... and Jim Hall - all started to come together. The catalyst was the state-of-the-art D'Aquisto archtop guitar that had appeared on the back cover of Jim Hall’s LP “Commitment” (1976). When I saw it I was spellbound. As a guitarist I longed to 'sound' like Jim, and building a guitar like his was, perhaps, the way to do so… ?
So…in 1987 I signed up at the “Centre for Musical Instrument Building” (Cmb) in Belgium. Having made a Flemish zither and a uke, the first guitar I built was that D'Aquisto model.
I now began to wonder: is this what an archtop should sound like? Nobody could tell me: it was the first archtop made at the school and there were no other acoustic archtops available in Belgium in those days. There was no internet, no YouTube, and no recordings of acoustic archtops either! So, what had I produced?
A year later, Jim Hall was in Belgium for a concert. I managed to make a date to show him my guitar. Who could
make a better assessment of my archtop than the
master himself ? He played it, looked up, his eyes
beginning to sparkle, and said “Yes, … good
acoustics!”, and he continued playing, clearly
enjoying himself. What a moment!
I now knew that I was on the right track. I would carry on making guitars. That much was certain. Having completed the courses in guitar and violin making, I accepted an offer to become a lutherie teacher at the Cmb in 1990 (for the next 27 years)
Since then I had the luck, honor and pleasure to work for several big names in the Belgian jazz scene and abroad, like Peter Hertmans, Hendrik Braeckman, Paolo Radoni, Jean Louis Rassinfosse, Philip Catherine, Karl van Deun, Hans Van Oost, Guy Raiff, Peter Verbraecken, Filip Verneert, Serge Lazarevitch (FR), John Abercrombie (US).
Initially, my Archtop Jazz Guitars were not only influenced by Jimmy D'Aquisto but also by John Monteleone, whom I visited several times in his Long Island (NY) workshop. Through our discussions about archtops and musical instruments in general, John spontaneously became a kind of first mentor to me.
Since a few years I have started to develop and refine my concepts and designs. Various meetings with, in the first place Ken Parker, but also with Michihiro Matsuda, Fred Pons, Thierry Andre, Nigel Forster and many others have given me the inspiration and the drive to explore and define my own path, resulting in an innovative acoustic archtop model named "the BEETLE" and a semi acoustic archtop model named "Little Sister".
(see audio/video on my homepage).
Currently i'm developing variable designs on the Beetle theme...
and other stuff (in 'nemawashi' phase 根回し)
See Guitars & Artists
Founding member & researcher of the LGR-Project
'The main goal of the Leonardo Guitar Research Project (LGRP)
is to study, demonstrate and communicate the possibilities of building acoustic and classical guitars from non-tropical woods'
Full member of the European Guitar Builders association (EGB).
The EGB is an alliance formed by professional independent European luthiers. We are dedicated to support each other by sharing knowledge, resources, and experience in order to preserve and innovate the art and craft of guitar building in Europe as a vital part of our musical culture.
Member of APLG (Association Professionnelle des Luthiers artisans en Guitare et autres cordes pincées) ➤ go to APLG website
MusicFund contact person for lutherie schools and lutherie organizations
Music Fund is a humanitarian project that supports musicians and music schools in conflict areas and developing countries. Music Fund collects instruments, repairs them and gives them a second life in 16 projects in Africa, the Middle East and Central America! Music Fund also trains instrument repairers and offers the exchange of teaching skills.
Member and former instrument making teacher (for 27 years)
@ the CMB, Belgium / link: Centrum Voor Muziekinstrumentenbouw
Double Bass works
In addition to my guitar making activities,
I have gained more than 25 years experience in setting up and repairing double basses, and in developing custom-made C and D- extensions.
I have also designed several electric and semi acoustic upright basses.