José Luis Romanillos Vega was born in Madrid in 1932, where he started his cabinet-making apprenticeship at the age of thirteen. In 1956, he moved to England to work in a hospital in Epsom and a few months later in a hospital in London. Five years later, José Luis Romanillos, made his first Spanish guitar in London.
Encouraged by the English guitarist Julian Bream in 1970, J. L. Romanillos set up a guitar-making workshop in the village of Semley, Wiltshire. Romanillos’ guitars have received recognition for their sound quality as well as for their aesthetical appearance from guitarists worldwide. Pure sound and harmonic balance of the strings are what Romanillos looked for and achieved in his quest of the subtle “Spanish sound”. The Daily Mail has called him “the Stradivari of the guitar” and the Italian magazine Sei Corde “the most important living stringed instrument maker”.
J. L. Romanillos has given courses on Spanish guitar making in numerous countries as well as lectures and seminars about the organology of the instrument. He has also given lectures on the history and development of the vihuela de mano and the Spanish guitar. In addition, he was a member of the Crafts Council of Great Britain for ten years. He is living in Guijosa, a rural district annexed to Sigüenza in the northern part of the province of Guadalajara in Spain, since 1995. In collaboration with his wife Marian, he published a dictionary of stringed-instrument makers and guitar-makers of Spain titled “The Vihuela de Mano and the Spanish Guitar” in 2002.
This gorgeous guitar, named “La Estival”, was built in 1980. Its name perfectly fits the warm character of this instrument, which is definitely the most “Spanish” guitar from Romanillos we’ve had in the shop. This guitar was built on the same model as the famous #501 that belonged to Julian Bream, and is in very good condition with only three very well repaired cracks on the top and a discreet repair on the back’s central purfling. It has an incredibly singing first string with endless sustain and a well-rounded clear tone. Playing vibrato on the basses strings feels like playing a cello and the overall balance of this guitar is fantastic. The early Hermann Hauser I shaped body gives this instrument a pleasing spontaneity and a great clarity. The playability is perfect, and this guitar is ready to be played, recorded and admired.
|Luthier:||José Luis Romanillos|
|Back and sides:||Indian rosewood|