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José Luis Romanillos

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José Luis Romanillos Vega – Guitar Maker

José Luis Romanillos Vega was born in Madrid in 1932 and began an apprenticeship at a Madrid carpentry workshop when he was thirteen years old. In 1956, he moved to England to work at a hospital in Epsom and a few months later at a hospital in London. Five years later, he built his first Spanish guitar in London.

In 1970, he established a workshop as a guitar maker in the village of Semley, Wiltshire, inspired by the English guitarist Julian Bream. The Romanillos guitars have been recognized by guitarists on an international level for both their sound and aesthetic appearance. The pure sound and harmonic balance of the strings are what Romanillos sought in his quest for the subtle “Spanish sound.” The Daily Mail called him “the Stradivarius of the guitar,” and the Italian magazine Sei Corde dubbed him “the most important living stringed instrument maker.”

He has conducted courses on Spanish guitar making in numerous countries, as well as lectures and seminars on the organology of the instrument. He has also delivered talks on the history and development of the Vihuela de mano and the Spanish guitar. He was a member of the Crafts Council of Great Britain for ten years.

Since 1995, he has lived in Guijosa, a rural district belonging to Sigüenza, in the northern part of the province of Guadalajara, Spain. In 2002, in collaboration with his wife Marian, he published an English-language dictionary about makers of stringed instruments and guitars in Spain titled “The Vihuela de Mano and the Spanish Guitar.”

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