TACCHI, Andrea, Italy
This very rare as new Simplicio Homage is a gem to behold, an inspiration to play. A number of professionals and knowled- geable amateurs alike have commented to us that this instrument is the closest to the perfect guitar of its type they have played or heard: Individually handcrafted, as always of course, by the great Florentine master, Andrea Tacchi. (Learn more).
Materials: CSA sides and back, European spr. soundboard, intricately carved ebony headstock veneer, Rodgers precision tuning machine heads (the finest in the world) with mop oval buttons, 650mm string length.
Andrea Tacchi writes:
Before passing to a brief biographical account of Francesco Simplicio, I would like to linger a moment on his Maestro, Enrique Garcia: born in 1868, the first pupil of José Ramirez 1st in Madrid, following which he worked continuously in his own workshop in Barcelona until 1922, side by side with his only disciple and legitimate successor, Francisco Simplicio. A contemporary of Tarrega, he won an important prize in Chicago in 1893, and was called by Prat, a student of Tarrega's, "the Stradivari of the Guitar".
From his death-bed Garcia called this same Prat called to come and choose one from his last five guitars: the one he chose turned out to be the last guitar Garcia built, no.272, built in1922; taking that he began to number his instruments in1900, we can see that his production was about 12 guitars per year, and given the complexity of the decoration, the machinery that was at the disposal of luthiers of the epoch, it is a respectable production.
Both Garcia and Simplicio constructed their own models as well as Torres replicas, which were so perfect that they were indistinguishable from and interchangeable with the originals. So, his pupil took over, in the same workshop at Paseo di San Juan 110, Barcelona, in 1922, and it can easily seen in the example of my copy of original no. 34 from 1924 that he took up completely the construction methods of his Master, beginning with the type of tuning machines he installed, all dimensions, the weight, the arrangement of the internal elements, with 4 fan struts on the treble side of the soundboard and on the bass side, that, with the central strut, make a total of eight fan struts, as opposed to 5 or more generally 7 as used by Torres. So, an interesting asymmetrical system giving less rigidity to the bass side, not only due to the number of struts used but also due to the height of the struts. The dimensions of the fan struts point to how far Simplicio had gone from Garcia, arriving from strut dimensions of about 5x5 mm (Garcia) to struts 6.5 mm at the base but only 1.3mm tall on the bass side and 2.0mm on the treble side.
Andrea Tacchi was born in Florence in 1956 to an ancient Florentine family. At the age of 15 he made his first guitar and continued building guitars for fun until 1976 when he met his Argentinean Maestro Ricardo Brané, who lived and worked in the Chianti region building guitars and lutes. In 1977 he left the University where he was studying Mechanical Engineering to be a full time professional guitar maker. He went to Spain in 1981 and met all the famous Spanish guitar makers in their workshops. This was an important turning point for his future. In the successive years he made several trips abroad to study guitar making; twice to Jose Romanillos in England, to Bob Mattingly in the U.S.A., and most importantly to Robert Bouchet in Paris whom he visited in his workshop several times in the following years to show his work and to get advice from the master. In Paris he also made the acquaintance of Daniel Friedrich, with whom he continues to communicate to this day. Throughout his travels he took the occasion to visit the principle musical instrument museums abroad to further his studies. In 1985 he attended the International Competition for guitar makers in Castres, France, winning first prize for Aesthetic Qualities and second prize in the Acoustic division among 23 different contestants from 11 different countries. Robert Vidal, the creator of the famous International Guitarist prize "Radio France," organized this competition. In 1987, he went to the International Festival in Toronto (Canada) where he attended John Gilbert 's guitar making master class. On that occasion he met the major American Luthiers, and became a member of the "Guild of American Luthiers." He also writes for the official magazine of the Guild. He has made copies of chitarre battenti, romantic guitars, and above all, classical guitars, also with 8,10, and 11strings in "G." In 1989 he started producing his own guitar, "COCLEA," after four years of study and development. This model is based on important physical concepts of the vibrant structures used in other strongly resonant instruments such as the piano. The model's name is "COCLEA," a Latin word for the part of the ear that has the task of transforming sound into a psychological sensation of volume, timbre, and tone. Some of the characteristics of these guitars are an easy emission of sound, a great variety of timbre, polyphonic clearness, great volume, great playability and pleasing string tension. In 1994, he began to make perfect reproductions of Robert Bouchet guitars. With a copy of the block notes that the French Maestro was writing and drawing while working, he not only reproduced the guitars perfectly (form, size, thickness, colors and inlay) but he also used the same methods of construction. In 1998 he was invited to Tokyo to exhibit a guitar during the celebration commemorating the centenary of the birth of Master Bouchet. In his approach to work, his innovative inspiration is guided by tradition and technique. Guitars built by Andrea Tacchi are being played all over the world; Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Greece, USA, Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan. Amongst his clients are Flavio Cucchi, Marcelo Kayath, Colin Davin, Corazon Otero, Jacob Lindberg, Walter Feibly, Carlo Marchione, and Filomena Moretti. (Learn more).
As I have written, this guitar resembles more a late Garcia than a subsequent Simplicio, excepting Garcia's label, which was touched up by the pupil (aside from the signature, the handwriting of the address is recognizable as Simplicio's). But the measurements are precisely the same in size and weight, 1360gr. Versus 1440 for Garcia and 1590 for later Simplicio instruments built on a larger form with deeper bodies. It is interesting to note the residual arching of the soundboard, more evident (and perhaps better preserved due to the stronger fan struts), in certain Garcia instruments I have had the occasion to see. The tilt of the neck towards the soundboard is about 4.5mm.
The elegant form of the bridge is also interesting, marvelously bordered in mother-of-pearl, in the center of which, (not being a grand Iberian luthier) I permitted myself to substitute the red-white-green of the flag Italy for the red-yellow-red of Spain, not as an expression of nationalism, only for fun and the pleasure of having had the opportunity to learn from such a great master. Thank you Maestro Garcia and Thank you Maestro Simplicio.
Some notes about the original guitar I copied have been sent to me in a long, interesting letter, by it's proprietor, Maestro Stefano Aruta,. He received the instrument as a gift from his Maestro and friend Maria Luisa Anido, on the occasion of his wedding, in 1983. Testimony to this is written in a dedication signed by the Argentine guitarist that has been placed inside the guitar below Simplicio's original label.
Maestro Stefano Aruta Letter:
Maria Luisa Anido, Mimita, was born in Argentina in 1907. Her father Juan Carlos Anido, first-rate guitarist and patron of the guitar wanted to give her a good maestro, the best that could be had in their country. He decided upon Domingo Prat, a musician whose origins were in Spain. He was a student of Llobet, who he followed from 1915-1919. In these years, as can be seen in photographs, he was playing an unknown guitar.
Seeing the progress of Anido, her father decided to give her a better guitar, and bought for her the Torres guitar (first epoch) with maple back and sides that was played by Tarrega, who died in 1909, in the first part of his career. Pujol, in a book dedicated to Tarrega, affirms that the Maestro, in order to stay in contact with this instrument.............. not able to thoroughly serve during the last ten years of his life, and what followed was a deterioration of the instrument such that it no longer had the acoustic response it had in preceding times. Because of this the instrument was substituted by another, more recent Torres. The first document testifying to the new destiny of the first Torres of Tarrega is a photograph in the Argentinian magazine "La Guitarra" from1922, in which Anido is seen embracing the guitar.
She kept it in her possession until 1970 when, under political exile in Europe and in need, she was forced to sell it. She was affectionately attached to the instrument, despite it's acoustic weaknesses of poor projection and low sustain.
In 1925 Anido came into possession of Simplicio no. 34/1924, given to her by Maestro Llobet; and it is this instrument on which she played and recorded until 1950 when she adopted a José Yacopi, which she substituted in 1977 with a Fleta. She used the Simplicio in duette with Maestro Llobet, who always employed a Torres of the first epoch from 1858.
We cannot know if the Catalan Maestro, after returning from his first tour in Argentina in 1922, commissioned the guitar from the great Barcelonean master for himself or directly for his favorite pupil. In one case or the other the artisan must have applied himself with remarkable care in the realization of this instrument. The fame of Anido, idolised in her own country, gave a lot of publicity to him, such that he had to obtain an official representative in Buenos Aires, the shop of Romero y Fernandez. One important note; lovers of the truth must string the instrument in the original manner, at 420hz, about a semitone lower than today's pitch....and all the strings at that time were of gut or silk, giving a completely different timbre than today's nylon.