SeC Guitars Interview
NAME: Giulio Sangirardi Bortolotti & Giulia Cavicchi, we work together as SeC Guitars
NICK NAME : SeC Guitars
LIVING IN : Pieve di Cento (Bo)- Italy
TRAINING & BACKGROUND: Scuola di liuteria di Pieve di Cento, but we did attend private courses with Roy Courtnall (UK’ Alex Bishop (UK) and Paolo Coriani (Italy)
PLAYING: I ( Giulio) do play electric guitar in a band called Votiva Lux since 1989. We are on all digital platforms, should you wish so you can check us out at this LINK
NAME OF YOUR HIGH SCHOOL BAND : Same as above, not kidding, I still play with my high school band
LUTHIER YOU ADMIRE THE MOST: Roger Bucknall of Fylde Guitars which is also a great human being, not only a great guitar maker.
INSTRUMENT YOU DREAM TO HAVE ONE DAY: a Manuel Ramirez from 1912
LAST ALBUM YOU BOUGHT: Antonio Vivaldi, the Paris Concertos by Modo Antiquo Ensemble, Vivaldi is my hero.
LAST MUSIC SONG YOU PUT IN YOUR CAR: My son’s playlist…with old school British heavy metal, such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden etc etc
LAST SHOW YOU WENT TO : The Divine Comedy, in Cork’s Opera House, Ireland, such a great live band with an excellent songwriter.
MOST IMPRESSIVE INSTRUMENT YOU EVER HAD IN HAND: The OM model that Ted Åstrand built for me a few years ago when it comes to new guitars, when it comes to old ones, well…We managed to hold in our hands a guitar repaired and modified by Antonio Stradivari! We were shocked to be able to hold that piece of history in our hands. You can read more about that guitar HERE
MOST STRANGE RESTORATION OR REPAIR YOU HAD TO DO : An harp guitar built in my town in 1935 ca by a nearly unknown luthier, it had elaborate Art Deco oil paintings on the soundboard! Such an unique instrument, we wanted to buy it form the customer as we do have a collection of locally built guitars from that time, but unfortunately the customer didn’t want to sell it.
When it comes to acoustic guitars we start from scale lengh, it is our little obsession as we do build a lot of multiscale guitars, than it’s the combination of bracing, top thicknesses and rigidity (or lack of) of the sides.
A big difference is made by what the customer does play and listens to.
For certain genres we prefer a certain shape/wood/bracing combination.
For classical guitars we divide our production roughly in two categories, a very traditional sounding model guitar (based on a Manuel Ramirez 1912) and a very modern one, lattice braced based on what Roy Courtnall taught us.
We try to suggest the most suited model according to the customer repertoire.
Sure, our company philosophy is pretty simple, we mix modern features (multiscale, true temperament, custom scale lenght etc etc) with very traditional building techniques, Spanish heel joint, amber varnish, shellac varnish etc etc and our strong aesthetic sense at a very sensible price.
We like Building unique pieces, Our rosettes and decorations are different for each guitar.
We never built the same guitar twice.
Here you can hear sound one of our most traditional model, a 000 model with 630 mm scale lenght, played by Lance Allen
Here our modern flagship model, an OM with multiscale fretboard played by Will McNicol
And here one of our classical ones, with lattice bracing, played by Will McNicol
The building technique for sure, of course good quality wood is important but experience makes for the most of the sound.
You can check some incredible sounding Spanish guitars for the beginning of the last century that had really “not fancy” wood…
One of the best sounding Italian guitar I ever owned (a Mario Maccaferri nylon strings from 1924) was made on very poor wood but it still sounds glorious after 100 years!
The Musician should tell us what makes him comfortable, and ask for a guitar easy to play as it makes for a better musical experience, then he should ask us a guitar that suits the kind of sound he has in mind, and the repertoire he likes to perform.
When it comes to acoustic guitars we build guitars for fyngerstyle, i.e. if you’re after Country or heavy strumming we are not the luthiers for you, if you do like to play music in the style of artists such as Nick Drake, Will Mac Nicol, Pierre Bensusan and players like them well…you should try our guitars!
Delays can happen for many reasons, after all we are not a factory, we usually tell our customer that once we start building their guitars, the building process is roughly 3/4 months, sometimes it took us one month more.
If, for some reason, there’s a delay we just tell them the truth, which is never “I wasn’t in the mood for working this morning” but serious reasons, it usually works better this way. We like to work with no pressure and our customers know that. We take time to “fine tune” everything and we only use hand applied varnishes like shellac, amber varnish etc.
Plus we like to keep the guitar for a couple of weeks before we ship it, so let’s say that we do not build 30 guitars per year ! Eight or nine guitars maximum is our average output.
We build in the Spanish way so we use a solera to build, and the neck is attached to the back, top and sides making for a very strong bond which gives a lot of sustain and stability but it’s a lot more work.
We ask measurements for the neck, nut, bridge spacing etc. etc. But we’d like to hear what’s he looking for when it comes to sound and ergonomics, if he’ll play live with it, his thoughts on the weight of the guitar and of course on the aesthetics too.
We do send the designs for our rosettes and graft ends/ headstock decorations and ask the customer if he likes them, we work on that side of things together. He has to hold the guitar in his arms after all, so he has to have something that he really likes and desire.
No, Not yet, but we do have a very good friend of ours doing demos for us, he’s famous and touring worldwide, he’s Will McNicol and he’s one the best players out there, not kidding, he’s really unreal, check his musicianship if you don’t know him yet.
Italy has a very long tradition in instrument making but I reckon is more famous worldwide for the violins, cellos, etc.
I do think that we have some incredible classical guitars makers especially when it comes to a more traditional sound, some terrific builders like Paolo Coriani or Lorenzo Frignani, our speciality as Italians is that we build absolutely beautiful guitars.
Italian have a deep sense of aesthetic. That’s in our dna !
It’s paired with a sweet deep sound. You usually can tell a good quality Italian guitar by the look of it.
We mostly build custom orders so most of the customers order and buy directly from us.
We do have two dealers outside of Italy though, one is Guitar Gallery in Nashville, USA, thats for our acoustic guitars, the other one is DK Classical Guitars in Glasgow, UK, they sell our classical guitars.
Guitar Gallery is actually waiting for our next short scale 000 model.
DK Classical guitar currently stocks our latest classical based on a Manuel Ramirez from 1912 but with our personal cosmetic touch, a labyrinth rosette with matched end graft and an incredible bearclawed Italian alpine spruce top.
We usually go to the Ullapool Guitar Show in Scotland which works great for us. We recently did attend the Paganini Guitar Festival in Parma (Italy).
We are organising our schedule for 2023 shows in Europe, hopefully we’ll got to the Bruxelles one. The pandemic messed up the exhibition calendar all over Europe so we are looking forward to attend as many shows as possible but first we have a list of orders to fulfill!
In the meantime an Italian director (Lorenzo Stanzani) made a short (15 mins ca) documentary about our building style.
You can watch it here, it has subtitles in English, just click the sub option in the menu
We also invite you to follow him on his various social networks:
In the coming weeks, as for others luthiers for plucked string instruments, luthiers for bowed string instruments, amps & effects makers, wood & supplies dealers, lutherie events, jobs, schools & teachers subscribers on our site, you will be able to follow our series of mini-interviews dedicated to the fascinating world of luthiers.
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