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”.
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. His son Liam Romanillos is working with José in the family workshop since 1982. Over the 40 last years, father and son built guitars amongst the finest and most sought after worldwide.
This guitar is named “La Campanula”, reminiscent of the beautiful little purple Bellflower. Built in 2016 and numbered 867, it is signed on the label as well as inside the soundboard by both father and son. It is a superb concert model, richly inlaid and featuring the legendary rosette inspired by the mosque of Cordoba. The back is constructed of four pieces of Indian rosewood. The top is also shaped by four pieces, the reason was to select spruce from the most precious and best quarter sawn parts from the raw material. The latter has taken on a magnificent honey colour over the last four years and has few playing marks. A thin, superficial split of about five centimetres, parallel to the joint on the lower left bout has been perfectly stabilized. It is almost not visible and has absolutely no effect on the sound of the instrument.
The tone of this guitar is pure, colourful, round, full of character and offers lots of possibilities. What a pleasure having such a gem in the shop. The playability is excellent, but it is really the purity and richness of tone that captivates the guitarist. Like all Romanillos, it is a guitar that requires some dedication from the guitarist in order to open up fully and rewards the musician with its soulful charm.
|Luthier:||José Luis Romanillos|
|Body and sides:||Indian rosewood|
|Air resonance frequency:||G|