The Number One Classical Guitar Store - Guitars International - About Us
Armin Kelly, Founder
Guitars International is one of the foremost dealers of fine, new, individually handmade classical guitars in the world. Founded in 1990 we have had the honor to represent the majority of the world’s finest contemporary classical guitar makers for over twenty-five years. Our concert guitars are sought after for their refined
elegant sound, musical flexibility, clarity, projection, easy playability, old master
grade materials, and immaculate workmanship: concert instruments which mature
with responsible care and loving use. To this end the classical guitars we
commission result from ongoing discussions with internationally renowned
concert artists (many of whom have performed on our Concert Series), the world’s most gifted luthiers, and prominent
We ship our guitars nationally on seventy-two
hours approval and display them by appointment in our shop in Cleveland, Ohio. Our goal is to match each client – student, teacher, concert
artist, aficionado, or collector – with the guitar which will inspire the
greatest artistry and joy. With over forty-five years experience buying,
selling, playing, studying, collecting, and commissioning the world’s finest
handcrafted classical guitars, it is safe to say that classical guitars are not
only our business but our passion.
For a current listing of inventory, photos, detailed descriptions of our instruments, and articles pertaining to the classical guitar, visit our classical guitar website regularly. If you wish to ask a question about a particular instrument, discuss our seventy-two hours approval policy, or make an appointment to audition the many fine classical guitars in our showroom and shop, please give us a call at 216.752.7502. We strive to make each visitor’s stay a relaxed, informative, fun experience. To sign up for our free color publications and email newsletter click here.
About Fine Individually Handmade Classical Guitars
A classical guitar can be a complex creation: On the one hand it can be admired simply as a tangible, static work of art, often breathtakingly beautiful in its physical form. On the other hand it should be first and foremost a tangible, kinetic work of art crafted to breathe and inspire, to give voice to the intangible art of a performer and the works of composers past and present. As such, it should be a conduit between artists of different disciplines and often different times and places. Of course, its ultimate function should be to enable communication not just between diverse artists but between diverse artists and the hearts and minds of an even more diverse population of receptive listeners. It is the ability to mediate between people in general with unimpeded sincerity and ease that is the wonder of a truly fine classical guitar.
Today, around the world, a small, dedicated group of individual artists are creating at the highest level concert guitars of various types capable of producing exceptional beauty, character and flexibility of sound. And yet, in the final analysis every classical guitar embodies a set of compromises. There are no perfect guitars. A few guitars, however, clearly do embody a more pleasing, more complimentary set of compromises than most. It is in these fine individually handmade classical guitars that we hear a musical aesthetic which is more refined, more responsive, more harmonious, personal, and alluring than the simple sum of their parts.
About Our Founder
Armin Kelly began the study of the classical guitar and classical music in general in his mid-teens. He counts among his formal teachers Miguel Rubio with whom he studied classical guitar in Spain and at the Lausanne Conservatory of Music in Switzerland, and Phillip de Fremery and Oscar Ghiglia with whom he studied for three summers at the Aspen Music Festival. Among his most formative musical influences were friends and colleagues - classical guitarists Christoph Harlan and John Holmquist. Armin Kelly holds both BA and MA degrees in English literature from Columbia University and an MA degree in teacher education with a concentration in English from Harvard University. While at Harvard he founded Guitars International, a business devoted to representing, promoting, and retailing the work of the world's finest contemporary classical guitar makers.
Mr. Kelly has lectured on the history and development of the classical guitar at the Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Bowling Green State University, Interlochen Arts Academy, the Guitar Foundation of America Convention, La Guitarra California, National Guitar Workshop, and the Healdsburg Guitar Makers' Festival. His articles have appeared in American Lutherie and Soundboard magazines. He was a founding Board Member of the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society and is the founder and Artistic Director of the Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival presented annually by Guitars International in cooperation with the Cleveland Institute of Music. Now in its fifteenth season this highly regarded festival features recitals, artist debuts, master classes, lectures, exhibits, and premiere performances by the world's finest classical guitarists, scholars, teachers, composers, and guitar makers. (Click here to read an interview with Armin Kelly in American Lutherie).