Interview with classical guitar luthiers: Dominik Wurth (Germany)

Interview_classical_guitar_luthiers_Domini_Wurth_Germany

I’m delighted to have Dominik Wurth from Ettenheim, Germany.

 

Q1. Could you please tell us a little about your luthiery and its history?

I first was attached to the Guitar as a player. Very quickly I got dissatisfied with my low cost instrument and I needed a better sounding guitar. By the problem of having no money, I decided to build my own Guitar. In this way I contacted several guitar maker, which helped me a lot, and taught me the basics of guitar making. I was very surprised about the sound that I achieved with my first few guitars and so this work became my passion.
Later I studied guitar making at the Zwickau University, Faculty of Applied Arts Schneeberg, the world's only university offering the study of stringed instruments. During this time I was able to gain a deeper understanding about the acoustical functionality of the guitar. I graduated as Bachelor of Arts and Master of Plucked Stringed Instrumental Handcraft.
During my studies I was able to work with Andrés D. Marví, a guitar maker near Granada, Spain, where I have got introduced into the traditional way of guitar making, which influenced me a lot.
Today I am producing exclusively Classical and Flamenco Guitars in my workshop.

 

Q2. Please describe your idea of a good sounding guitar, and what you do to achieve it?

I am looking for a modern sound with the traditional methods of guitar making. I am not interested in making double-top guitars only to produce a loud instrument. For me there are a lot of aspects that are more important than the power. I am looking for round and warm trebles, which can be modulated in its colour and which allows to sing easily. The bases have to have a lot of sustain that its notes are not dying too quickly. The harmonies I want to have clean and bright.
With my latest constructions I have got very close to my idealised sound imagination, by using much cross-stiffness on the top, like this was done by Robert Bouchet, Daniel Friedrich and Antonio Marin. Furthermore I am using a very stiff rib-construction which is working like a strong frame for the top, to hold as much energy as possible on the top.
With this kind of construction I achieve a strong and powerful Instrument, clean and bright, which is able to sing in a lot of different sound colours over long sustained base-notes.

 

Q3. Please tell us about your idea of improving playability, and what you do to achieve it?

Playability is a very complex and difficult issue, because it is something very personal. First of all, each player got different hand sizes and so first everybody have to find out on which kind of neck he fells comfortable. If he needs a wide a narrow nut width depends on his hand geometry and he should try several guitars until he found the perfect neck width that match to him.
Furthermore the string height is important. It should be as low as possible for fast and easy changes with a less effort of energy, not to get too tired in the left hand. String height not is only a question of a well shaped fingerboard, which has to be perfect, also the construction of the top is important. For example, a stronger and stiffer top allows us to lower the strings, quiet a lot more than a very flexible one.
But at least you can get buzzing each guitar and in fact of that its always important to adjust the string height after watching the guitarist playing, if he uses a very strong attack in the right hand or if it is more slightly. Only in this way it is possible to find out the perfect setting, which is comfortable to play without buzzing.

 

Q4. Please tell us your opinion about the traditional finishing method (French polish) and new methods (lacquer, catalysed finishing, etc).

I am exclusively using shellac as finish for the entire instrument which is applied by hand in the traditional technique. Compared to other varnishes shellac offers considerable advantages by leaving only a very thin and protective layer in the method of application which is less confining the vibrations of the top than synthetic varnishes, therefore the guitar is gaining more force of projection. Shellac also has the advantage that it is reversible and very easy to maintain.

 

Q5. Please tell us your opinion regarding shorter-scale guitars such as 640, 628 and 615mm in terms of playability, design, sound quality and volume. Is there an increasing need to cater to smaller-handed or female players?

Of course, it can be a big advantage for female players or smaller-handed persons to play an instrument with a shorter scale where they feel more comfortable and don`t have to stretch their hand too much.
 For the scale of 640 mm I wouldn't see any big differences in sound quality.

 

Q6. Many readers say they end up being very confused after trying many guitars. Could you give us some advice on how to examine the guitars' sound quality and playability at a shop or luthier, from the guitar-maker's point of view?

In my opinion you should not compare more than three guitars. You get lost by the various amount of different impressions. For examining the guitar sound I would advise not to play the piece you are practising in that moment on your own guitar. As a player you have to play something where you can relax and where you are able only to listen to the sound itself and not to the technical difficulties.
 Also you only should play very short passages of a piece, than take the other guitar and play the same short passage. It is senseless to play a whole piece on one guitar, than taking another guitar to play a different piece on it than before. This won`t give you any informations.

 

Q8. How does the increasing rarity of some woods, rosewood for example, impact on your methods, and the quality of the end product?

The difficult availability of Rio Rosewood for example, I wouldn't see as a big problem. It is a big myth that Rio sounds better than Indian Rosewood. A very wild grown Rio Rosewood back, for example can be more flexible than a straight and narrow grown Indian Rosewood back. In such a case I always would choose the Indian Rosewood which sure would gain a better sounding instrument.

 

Q9. How do you see the future of this beautiful tradition in the 21st century?

The guitar maker is always searching for a better sounding instrument, so we will see a lot of different ideas and concepts in future time. However, these new concepts will not displace the traditional guitar sound, because in the end we will find out again, that this beautiful instrument don´t need any improvements.

Gallery: 

Interview_classical_guitar_luthiers_Domini_Wurth_Germany

Video: 

Torres Guitar 1864 - FE 17 Copy (Tárrega Guitar) by Dominik Wurth
Torres Guitar 1864 - FE 17 Copy (Tárrega Guitar) by Dominik Wurth

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