Francois Roudhloff (1781-1849), born in the Strasbourg, France area and did his apprenticeship with the master luthier Breton in Mirecourt. After his marriage to Miss Mauchand in 1811, he opened his own workshop. The style of his workmanship is elegant and delicate, influenced both by the work of his master and by what he observed in guitars made by other guitar makers of his epoch. The inner work is precise in every detail, and some points, such as the end block reduced to a minimum size, are peculiar to this maker. The models he proposed are distinguished for their numerous variants, made to meet the demands of guitarists; but the most characteristic innovation is the fingerboard of ebony, embedded half-thickness into the soundboard. This is a construction technique copied from guitars by the Neapolitan Gennaro Frabricatore, whose instruments at that time were played by great virtuosos such as Mauro Giuliani and Niccolò Paganini. This particular way of fitting the fingerboard enables the guitarist to achieve a different acoustic response. This guitar is signed with the brand “Roudhloff à Paris”. The brand “Paris” is an exclusive tradition of Mirecourt; luthiers often invented an address in Paris to gain credibility and prestige, at least in their own eyes.
This beautiful guitar, built around 1830, was owned by the admirable guitarist Raphaella Smits. She recorded a wonderful CD with it entitled “Harmonie du Soir”, which includes some lovely masterpieces by Johann Kaspar Mertz and Luigi Legnani. The restoration was undertaken by the German luthier and expert for historical instruments Bernhard Kresse. These are his thoughts and own words about this beautiful guitar:
“This instrument is a typical work of the French instrument maker Francois Roudhloff from around 1830. The stamp signature F. Roudhloff-Mauchant points to the time of his Paris workshop with the violin/guitar maker Nicolas Mauchant. Both were related by marriage. Marriage between members of individual instrument makers and families resulting double names were quite common in the 18th and 19th century Lorraine region. Stylistically the most Roudhloff guitars differ greatly from the elegant ivory and mother of pearl decorated instruments of his Paris colleagues. The inserts and double soundhole rings are of simple elegance and understated aesthetics. Sonically Roudhloffs instruments impress by a velvety dark but very strong tone of unusual substance. The instrument was restored in 2002 in my workshop. I think the luthier François Roudhloff deserves to be mentioned in addition to his famous colleagues like Stauffer, Panormo, and Lacôte.”
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