Julien Garcia Acoustic Guitars Interview
NAME: Julien Garcia
LIVING IN : Chalvignac (Cantal – France)
TRAINING & BACKGROUND: I learnt guitar making in Claude Fouquet’s workshop in Puimisson (South of France)
PLAYING: I do play guitar, mainly electric guitar even if that sounds a bit weird for an acoustic builder but I also play steel string and classical guitar when I have the time.
LUTHIER YOU ADMIRE THE MOST: So many…Dominique Field, Daniel Friedrich, Michael Thames, John Bogdanovich, Ervin Somogyi, Jason Kostal, Michael Greenfield, Franck Cheval, Thomas Fejoz and so many others around the world.
INSTRUMENT YOU DREAM TO HAVE ONE DAY: PRS custom 24
LAST MUSIC SONG YOU PUT IN YOUR CAR: Probably some 80’s hard rock stuff.
LAST SHOW YOU WENT TO : A fingerstyle guitar festival near my new location this past summer, so many talented people were playing there, that was a very nice moment.
MOST IMPRESSIVE INSTRUMENT YOU EVER HAD IN HAND: A Sheldon Schwartz multiscale steel string and a Thomas Fejoz multiscale baritone. Both will remain in my head for a long time…
MOST STRANGE RESTORATION OR REPAIR YOU HAD TO DO : I have been asked to do a restoration job on a 19th century Ramirez guitar. I soon started to notice some weird things that weren’t corresponding to the supposed age of this guitar. So I took some pictures of the inside and the label and sent them to the Ramirez workshop in Spain. About ten days later I received an answer saying the guitar was a fake one and never came out their workshop. The hardest part was to explain all this to the owner…
To me the most important thing when designing a guitar is that all the aspects of the design such as structural integrity, ergonomics, sound quality and the overall aesthetics of the instrument sort of “blend” together resulting in a consistent object, ready to become a tool in the hands of a musician.
I don’t really have any flagship models.
All I can say is that concerning classical guitars my “best seller” is definitly my “Grand Concert” model with a wooden lattice frame that I have reworked and refined over the years.
Concerning my steel string guitars I would like to promote and make more multiscale models such as my OM and my Jumbo which are so easy to play in this configuration.
There are many aspects that have an impact in the sound quality of the finished instrument but to me the building technique (quality of the internal assembly, glue joints precision, geometry of the instrument, etc) is probably the most important aspect to achieve a great sounding instrument.
The wood combination, string choice or whatever will just change the colour of the sound and it’s personality.
In other words you can hardly blame your materials if you’re not happy with the result. The problem will very likely come from the build quality or even the design.
When someone wants to order an instrument I would suggest to be able to formulate what is “missing” with your current guitar and what you would like to find in your new one.
Bringing your guitar to my shop and playing it in front of me is a good approach I think to help defining your exact needs in terms of sound, ergonomics, setup, etc.
Of course trying some of the guitars available at the shop will also be very helful for me to determine the way I’m going to build your very own one.
My average delay for a custom instrument is about 2 month (once I started the build). It can be a few weeks more or less depending on the design and the aesthetics required by the customer.
Once the build has started I regularly send pictures of the build to the future owner so that he’s implied in the build process and can already start his relationship with the instrument even before it’s finished.
Concerning my building process I build all my guitars using the “french” method which means the neck and body are made separately and assembled with a “tenon/mortise” neck joint.
I do have a preference for the “dovetail” neck joint even though the “bolt on” neck joint is becoming very popular these days.
I review all the aspects of the future instrument with the customer who has to be part of the design of his new guitar but like I said the most important thing to define is: “Why your current guitar doesn’t suit your needs anymore? And of course how have your needs evolved?”
That way I can determine how your new guitar should be made to fit them.
I have some professional musicians playing on my guitars, some are performers, others are music teachers. However I have never had the opportunity to make a guitar for a big name so far.
I don’t know if there is such a big difference between France and other countries on the approach of instrument making but I know the work of quite a few makers here in France who really dare to change things and explore new designs, new materials, etc.
But once again I guess there are innovators all around the world.
I don’t have resellers for the moment so if you want to buy one of my instruments you can come directly to my shop or find me on a guitar show or music festival where I exhibit.
This year I have already exposed my guitars on some guitar shows like the international guitar festival in Toulouse, or more recently near Paris for the Puteaux guitar festival.
In a few weeks I will be back on the road to present my work in Valence (France) for a classical guitar event this time. And mid November I will be back in the Paris area, in Juvisy sur Orge, for another classical guitar festival which will be the last of this year.
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