I'm delighted to have Claudio Meneghelli from Geuensee, Switzerland.
Q1. Could you please tell us a little about your luthiery and its history?
I studied guitar here in Switzerland at Lucern conservatory, where I finished with a degree in 1983. After years as a guitarist and teacher, I once was curious to try to make a classical guitar by myself. I followed the advices of some books and from a local guitarmaker.
In 2001, I was lucky to have the chance to attend a guitar making class by José L.Romanillos in Sigüenza/Spain. That was such a great experience, that it let me go back the following 3 courses until 2004.
After having worked on our kitchen table in the beginning, since 2002 I have my actual workshop.
After a period of experimenting with new methods of construction, this lead me back to tradition more than before.
Aestheticaly I try to make every guitar unique. So, very often I change rosette on decorations. I enjoy making guitars very much-it became one of the great things in my life.
Q2. Please describe your idea of a good sounding guitar, and what you do to achieve it?
I think that is a matter of taste. Anyway, I personaly can find all the features (characteristics) which I am looking for, in traditional light built guitars with spruce top.
I do not feel the guitar needs innovations since Torres and other old masters.
Q3. Please tell us about your idea of improving playability, and what you do to achieve it?
My fretboards (frets) are in a certain geometry - slightly curved (Bass side different than treble side). This gives me the chance to lower the string action pretty much without having buzzing. That is for me the main feature to achieve that.
I use frets which are a bit higher than “normal” – this also makes it easier to play.
Q4. Please tell us your opinion about the traditional finishing method (French polish) and new methods (lacquer, catalysed finishing, etc).
I use French polish because I think it is the best choice for the sound and also it gives the nicest appearance to the wood.
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 made scales 640mm and 630mm. They have been very well received.
It is possible to do it without losing very much of the sound.
For small hands, it can help playing much easier, especially in combination with special attention to both the neck thickness and shape.
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?
Yes, often we have that situation. When that happens, it is not the moment to make a decision on which guitar to buy. If possible, it would be better to come back another day. On the other hand, if a player has a clear idea of what kind of sound she/he is looking for, a selection will be much easier.
Q7. Do you offer any 'after-sales' service to customers - particularly customers who are nervous about making a substantial investment?
Yes, of course! If there are adjustments to be done, even after a long period from the purchase — my customers should have full satisfaction!
Q8. How does the increasing rarity of some woods, rosewood for example, impact on your methods, and the quality of the end product?
That's not a problem. Lots of other species are possible to be used for the back and sides.
I am very happy with Indian rosewood and others.
Also concerning spruce, I am lucky to have it here at only a stone's throw away!
Q9. How do you see the future of this beautiful tradition in the 21st century?
I do not know about the future but due to the fact there are so many guitar lovers — it will go on the right way!