My guitarsA great guitar, regardless of type, should easily transmit the musical ideas of the player, and not get in the way of the creative process. My job as a luthier is to "shorten the distance" between the musician and his/her music. This means making guitars which sound better and play with less effort, for the most discerning classical guitarists.
This also means Custom Building guitars - with the sound, playabilty, woods, features and specifications you want to have.
Dominelli Guitars Evolution:
I started my guitar making career as most luthiers do - copying the guitars made by some of the great luthiers of the past - Hauser, Torres, Barbero, Fleta, Ramirez, and others might come to mind. Many traditionally built guitars are great instruments, especially in terms of tone quality and balance.
In particular, I favored Hauser guitars, and I built my own Hauser inspired model for many years. They had 7 fan braces, with a spruce soundboard. They were clear, focused guitars with excellent separation and projection.
But after several years of building traditional guitars, I became interested in building modern instruments - guitars using new materials and design features, such as lattice bracing, and nomex double tops. They are louder, project further, and have better playability and dynamics than the traditional guitars I used to built exclusively.
There is a myth among some people: that traditionally made guitars are quieter but have great sound quality, and double tops and lattices are loud but sound bad. This is sometimes true. It's also true that some traditional guitars are loud and sound great. Some modern guitars are loud, but do not sound so nice.
For the record, any type of guitar can sound good or bad, loud or quiet. It is the luthier, and his/her ability to optimize a particular design which determines the outcome of the guitar. This is why fantastic sounding guitars exist in every tradition of building.
But what constitutes a quality sound? I would say this is an accurate description:
"A great classical guitar must have a presence or character of sound that draws the listener into it’s beauty - the kind of tone that makes the listener take notice, and want to hear more. Further - A fine concert guitar must have balance of register, a strong fundamental, good separation, clarity, some overtone activity, and enough power and projection for the concert hall."
The Hybrid Lattice Classical
In 2003 I built several experimental guitars using the lattice bracing concept. I did not attemp to reproduce my version of the Greg Smallman lattice. Although his guitars were loud, with excellent playing dynamics, I found them a bit too nasal in tone quality. I wanted a lattice braced guitar which was more traditional in terms of tone.
A series of refinements led to my creation of the Dominelli Hybrid Lattice Model, which had the sound qualities many concert players were after. It combines a traditional tonality with greater volume and playing dynamics. I prefer to use cedar for the soundboard and rosewood back and sides for the hybrid lattice model. Cedar gives the lattice the warmth and power that works best for this design. No carbon fiber is used in my hybrid lattice.
The Double Top classical
By 2012 I was making very few lattice braced guitars. I switched to making almost exclusively double top guitars with modern features - elevated fingerboards, soundports, armrests, re-inforced necks, and laminated sides. (For more details on how double tops are made, see my "Tech Talk" page.)
I have found my double tops to have better volume, playability, and dynamics than the lattice braced guitars. By dynamics I'm referring to how well the guitar responds to both gentle and aggressive right hand techniques. Better playability - they deliver more volume with less effort on the part of the player. Melody lines on the top string, will "pop" out with less effort.
The double tops also have a "thicker", warmer tone quality than the Hybrid lattice. This warmer tone quality, especially when coupled with carbon strings or higher density nylon composites, sounds fantastic. Many great musicians are playing my double tops, and they rave about the artistic palette these guitars have.
The classical guitar world is conservative by nature, and change happens very slowly. But in my 20+ year career as a guitar maker I've learned that musicians are very accepting of innovative designs which help them excel as artists. Luthiers are, on average, far more fearful of change.
Musicians do not have the same prejudices about how a guitar should or should not be made, like luthiers often have. Musicians just want the right musical tool.
As a luthier, I love and appreciate the traditional instruments, but I have worked hard to keep up with new developments. I am listening to what musicians want.
For this reason, and for the quality of my work, I have been lucky to build and develop my new line of Modern Concert Guitars.
Please peruse the rest of my web-site. You'll learn more about my guitars, the woods I use, and the features which set my guitars apart from the bulk of classical guitars being made today.
Dominelli Guitars are built with the highest quality of woods, to the finest standards of workmanship.