About

Guitar building


How it started

At the age of 16, I took up the guitar. In those day's

I was an avid fan of guitar heroes like Carlos
Santana, John McLaughlin... Later on I discovered

Jazz and specialy Jim Hall with his intriguing sweet

and mellow toned guitar-lines.
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 acoustic 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 and surroundings 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.


NEW DESIGNS

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.

Results are, amongst others, the innovative 

'Beetle'-archtop and 'Beetle'-flattop models.

Currently i'm developing variable designs on the Beetle theme 

and also other models like the 'Groove-cat '.
See Guitars & Artists

In the workshop of John Monteleone
Ken & me

<- Me playing a Monteleone

archtop in John's workshop.

Long Island, NY, 1994

<- Meeting Ken Parker !

Cordefactum symposium,  Belgium / 2010

Testimonial from Ken Parker / May 2018 "Hey Jacky ! I wanted to tell you how impressed I am with your Beetle Guitar! Very cool thinking and a wonderful design!  The sound clips show a very nicely balanced voice. Good luck with your building, and have a great summer!"

Ken.

Related activities

 

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'

go to LGRP website  / Published LGRP papers see further on this page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

go to EGB  website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Member of APLG (Association Professionnelle des Luthiers artisans en Guitare et autres cordes pincées) ➤ go to APLG website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





MusicFund / contact person for instrument making schools 

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.

go to MF website














Board member and former instrument making teacher (for 27 years)

@ the CMB, Belgium /

link: Centrum Voor Muziekinstrumentenbouw

APLG @ Musicora 2018

Scientific research papers / pdf

• Guitar neck stability and stiffness tests.
An experimental study to determine the degree of gradual deformation under stress (creep) of different wood species serving as classical guitar necks. / click for PDF

• Online listening test with guitars made from tropical wood and guitars made from non-tropical wood / click for PDF

Double Bass stuff further down

Philip Catherine with the Flattop 'Beetle'

<- LEFT / The great Belgian jazz-cat PHILIP CATHERINE playing my Acoustic Flat-top "Beetle-FT" model during a recording sessions for the album "Shared Stories" of Guillaume Muschalle (2020)


-> RIGHT -> -> Guillaume Muschalle and Philip Catherine concerting
                     on my guitars  (2021)

Guillaume Muschalle / Philip Catherine

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.

... and I make also other things than musical instruments

See my blogspot

IMAKETHINGS


Outdoor Lounge Chair
sculpture / Spalted beech