I had a dream
I have always been a big fan of Jim Hall. Back in my twenties, I was enchanted by the state-of-the-art D'Aquisto archtop guitar that appeared on the back cover of his LP “Commitment” (1976). As a young guitarist, not only did I want to sound like Jim Hall, but I also wanted to build a guitar like his!
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!”. 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.
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 mentor to me.
My Acoustic Flat-Top Guitars stand out particularly through their unusual use of a carved and arched back. This has the effect of projecting the sound more directly towards the sound hole and out of the guitar. In combination with a specifically designed bracing pattern this results in a clear and precisely articulated sound.
More recently, I have started to develop and refine my concepts and designs. Various meetings with Ken Parker, 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.
I am currently concentrating on hand crafting a limited number of unique instruments, each with its own one-of-a-kind visual and sonic characteristics.
New guitars will be exhibited in May 2018 @ the HGGS in BERLIN
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 community.
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.
Former instrument building teacher for 26 years and member of the Centre for Musical instrument Building, Belgium (Cmb)
The Cmb, based at Puurs, Belgium, is a training and documentation resources centre whose aim it is to spread and promote the knowledge and the richness of the craft.
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.