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. Since 1995 he was living in Guijosa, a rural district annexed to Sigüenza in the northern part of the province of Guadalajara in Spain. 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 important guitar, built in 1978 and numbered 224, is called “La Neva”. The 1970s were a crucial period in the collaboration between Julian Bream and José Luis Romanillos, and this wonderful golden-age guitar is an excellent testimony of these two giants’ artistic partnership. As a matter of fact, this guitar, part of the rare series of instruments numbered in the 200, is directly inspired by Julian Bream’s 1936 Hermann Hauser® I. Built with the exact measurement of the plantilla of Bream’s famous guitar, it is a true rarity and an absolutely fantastic concert guitar.
The golden brown spruce soundboard demonstrates this guitar’s noble maturation over the past forty years, and the gorgeous marquetry brings the already stunning Indian rosewood back and sides to the next level of aesthetic. This guitar got a few hairline cracks due to dryness, which were skillfully restored using only a sort of parchment to ensure the soundboard’s integrity and original lightweight.
The highly comfortable neck shape makes this guitar a delightful instrument to play in any concert situation, without forgetting the excellent volume this guitar provides. Acoustically, this instrument is a reminiscence of Julian Bream’s notable 1970s tone with its brilliant trebles that ring endlessly. The evenness of all voices throughout the registers is breathtaking. Overall, it is a perfect example of Jose L. Romanillos’ guitars at their best, an aesthetic that carries a deep and rich legacy in the classical guitar world.
Watch the presentation video of this particular guitar below, where you will find a lot of additional information about its playability and sound.
|Luthier:||Jose Luis Romanillos|
|Back and sides:||Indian rosewood|
|Air body frequency:||G|
|Strings:||Knobloch EDC 34.0|
|Case:||Hiscox Pro II “Siccas Guitars” Edition|