• bill@gourlayguitars.com

"Liliana" my tiny Torres replica...the inspiration.

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

Having recently completed a replica of an 1852 Torres for which I also built a wooden "coffin case", I was inspired to consider making more cases for my Torres replica guitars. It was a fun and interesting effort and I believe it added a nice period appropriate and very classy touch to the instrument...not to mention the fact that I really had no choice. There were no commercially available cases to fit that size instrument. So, since I already had all the case measurements for the 1852 Torres (as well as those of the 1864 FE18), what other Torres might I replicate that could also fit into that size case? I came across photos of the 1884 Torres SE77 in the book, "Antonio de Torres, Lo Stradivaria della chitarra moderna" - (the Stradivarius of the modern guitar). This book is a compendium of the 2017-2018 exhibit in Cremona , Italy, celebrating the works of both Stradivari and Torres to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Torres' birth.

SE77 is quite small, at just over 11" wide at the lower bout, and a scale length of 608mm. It is also a very basic instrument built with Spanish cypress back and sides, wooden pegs, and a small, simple rosette. Smaller than both FE18 and the 1852 Torres, it would easily fit into the same size case with a few minor interior adjustments. Further research discovered it was virtually identical in size to SE117, an instrument owned by José Romanillos, and detailed in both his book, "Antonio de Torres, Guitar Maker - His Life and Work", and "Making Master Guitars" by Roy Courtnall. So I had all of the necessary information I needed to make a SE77 replica.

The fun begins... It has been nearly a year since I last enjoyed the sweet, pungent fragrance of Spanish cypress permeating the air in my workshop. I had a private student who built a Barbero-style flamenco blanca in 2018. The smell of Spanish cypress is quite distinctive. You either like it or you don't. I like it. My first order of business was to create a template for the plantilla. I made a half template using mdf from which I will later make a full template out of plexiglass. From my template I cut and jointed the Spanish cypress back with a 1mm wide strip of Brazilian rosewood in the center. For all of my Torres replicas I have decided to use "original" materials as much as possible - as such, although this is a very basic instrument, the headplate, bridge, bindings, and the rosette veneers will all be fashioned from Brazilian rosewood. Also, for this instrument, rather than using cross grain Spanish cedar, I cut a 12mm wide strip of linen to use as the center back joint reinforcement. It will be glued in place with either hide glue or fish glue. The original SE77 is reinforced with a strip of music manuscript paper for this purpose. Not having any of that close at hand, I chose the next best option, a strip of linen, which was used on the similar-sized SE117. I thickness sanded the back to 2mm, prepared fan braces and harmonic bars of European spruce, and the two back braces of Spanish cedar (no back brace in the upper bout). I thickness sanded the sides to ~1.3mm - pretty thin, but quite appropriate for a Torres...actually even a bit thick as his were often around 1mm!

Next steps - join the halves of the European spruce soundboard and prepare the solera.

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