- I was mainly interested in playing a Kenny Hill Fleta model and I was in luck to find that they did have the instrument there. It was a Brazilian Rosewood model done in French Polish. Now Fleta was one of the more famous Spanish makers of the mid 20th century. Segovia and John Williams played his instruments. This Kenny Hill model is a copy of the Fleta style. The first notes that I played were surprisingly responsive. The sound of this guitar was very deep and full. Loud but not harsh at all. Even the notes way up the fretboard sounded full and deep. It was also almost effortless to play. The action was quite easy and the width of the fretboard was noticeably less than a normal CG. The technician told me this was typical of a Kenny Hill guitar and that Hill tended to sell a lot to Japan and so he was catering to smaller hands. I liked the action but I really thought the width would suit me if it were wider. Never the less, the sound of this guitar was one of the most beautiful I have ever encountered.
- Ramirez 1a, Madagascar Rosewood. As a comparison, he brought out this nice Ramirez which was brand new. The 1a model is one of the most famous and respected CGs. Used by Segovia in his later years and by most of his students (like Parkening, Lorimer, Ghiglia to name a few). I myself have a 1977 1a model which is not in the greatest condition right now and could use some work. Now these older Ramirez guitars are most infamous for their huge scale length of 665 cm. But the new versions use the much more standard scale length of 650. I was surprised as I played this instrument that it sounded like a very typical Ramirez (quite beautiful) but was very manageable to play. The width of the fingerboard was the same (very wide) which I really liked and having that scale back down to normal made it a very desirable guitar in many ways. But the sound was noticeably different than the Hill Fleta. Much more of a mid range punchiness and loud but a tad bit on the harsh side if you push it. Still, this is an exquisite guitar. Unfortunately the Madagascar Rosewood (along with the Ramirez name) made it quite expensive too: $7700.00 to be exact.
- Cervantes with raised fingerboard. This was not a completely hand made guitar but it was surprisingly good. It featured the Thomas Humphries Millennium style raised fingerboard and tapered front. The tapering was a bit different as the face of the guitar was rounded instead of being a flat piece placed at an angle. Never the less the sound was excellent, especially considering the price of around $2500. However, it was hard to play. Action was quite high and a wide fingerboard which seemed to get even wider at the saddle. But I would describe the sound as Ramirez like and strong enough to play in a large hall. This was the first raised fingerboard guitar that I have played and I did notice that it made the upper register very easy to play even though in other respects the guitar was hard to play.
- 1973 Larrivee. This guitar surprised me a bit. The action was a bit high probably due to some change in the neck angle but still, I liked it's sound. It was very neutral and I think it would be a good instrument for Baroque or Renaissance music. I enjoyed playing it as it's sound was distinct and not so much in the Spanish tradition but still nice. The technician at the store told me that Larrivee did make nice guitars way back then but now is completely mass production based and focused on steel string instruments. What a pity as this was a nice instrument with it's own character.
Saturday, August 1. 2009
We were in Toronto visiting family for the past week. I asked on the Delcamp forum about Classical Guitar stores around the area that I might want to visit. I was originally looking for sheet music but one recommendation was a guitar store called the 12th Fret and since their web site indicated that they might have some nice instruments, I decided to try and take a look. The store is located not too far from Lake Shore Drive near the CN Tower and Rogers Stadium where the Blue Jays play so it was a nice scenic drive getting there. It is a fairly small place but the staff seemed very knowledgeable. I went to a small room in the back where there were classical guitars. The technician at the store was very helpful and complemented me on my playing. He had some background in studying Classical playing so this helped him to recognize any skill that I might have (even though I am very rusty these days). Here's a run down of the instruments I played.
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