I’m delighted to have Daniel Gil de Avalle from Granada, Spain.
Q1. Could you please tell us a little about your luthiery and its history?
The guitar maker/luthier Daniel Gil de Avalle: Daniel Gil de Avalle grew up in a big family. Musicly, he was strongly influenced by his elderly sister, a professional soprano; and his brother-in-law, a conductor.
He began to study the violin at the Conservatory of Granada, and later he moved to Madrid. His passion for luthiery began from his childhood. He continued this family line of guitar makers, the descendants or apprentices of Ferrer, the Pater Familia of the Granada school for classical and flamenco guitars, with his father-in-law in the 1980's.
They started working together as a maestro and an apprentice, and ended up becoming colleagues of the workshop Guitarrería Gil de Avalle. Eventually, Daniel took over the workshop.
Prizes and recognitions:
- 2013 Prize "Premios Della Robbia", Seville for his work as artisan.
- 2013 "AndaluciaSI.es Quality Award", best logistics.
- 2012 Daniel Gil de Avalle, is appointed Master Artisan by the Andalusian Government for the excellence of his work and his contribution to encouraging traditional craft for more than 20 years.
- 2011 Gil de Avalle Elite and Premium finalist:Finalist "Best Product" Spanish National Artisan Awards "AndaluciaSI.es Quality Award", best logistics.
Q2. Please describe your idea of a good sounding guitar, and what you do to achieve it?
The guitar is a tool specialised for the hands of professionals to work with.
The most important features of a good instrument are: Balance, volume, colour, and tone. The combination of these characteristics should be easily applied by the performer in a dynamic and simple way. The most important thing to combine all of these aspects is the distribution of all of the tensions that generate the architecture of the instrument.
Q3. Please tell us about your idea of improving playability, and what you do to achieve it?
A guitar which is easy to play is the one that has a great sensitivity for the expression, and requires a player a minimum technical effort. To achieve this, good selection of woods, especially, with slow curing is important. In addition to all above, I have to mention a correct harmonic distribution according to the expected output of the instrument, which is often different according to each performer.
Q4. Please tell us your opinion about the traditional finishing method (French polish) and new methods (lacquer, catalysed finishing, etc).
In terms of harmonic, I'm a great fan of French polish because it gives the instrument tonalities, colours, volume that none of the lacquers or synthetic varnishes do. Nonetheless, in terms of the protection, lacquers and synthetic varnishes are more effective than French polish.
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?
I think these scales are too short to allow a correct vibration of the strings. Thus, in my opinion, for players with small hands, there is no other choice than using short scaled guitars despite the inferior 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?
There is no such thing as a common parameter to describe a perfect guitar, but a concept about the sensibility of each performer. Having said that, identifing a good guitar is, without any doubt, to check the following characteristics: volume, balance, colour, and playability. However, the perception of these elements can vary according to the player.
Q7. Do you offer any 'after-sales' service to customers - particularly customers who are nervous about making a substantial investment?
All of my clients receives a specialised after-sales service and the guarantee for the entire life of the instrument.
Q8. How does the increasing rarity of some woods, rosewood for example, impact on your methods, and the quality of the end product?
At present, I have no problem with the stock of the Brazilian rosewood because I had bought these woods before 1992, when this wood was added on the list of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
Q9. How do you see the future of this beautiful tradition in the 21st century?
Despite some guitar makers who make low-quality guitars looking for a high return and easy business, I think the hand-crafted guitar is an exponent of the highest standard and specialisation instrument that people need, every day, and more and more. Without doubt, guitar and luthier are a symbiosis, and they will be always united, requiring each other.