Oren Myers, England
At heart I am still a guitarist, and so it is very satisfying that through my guitar making I can contribute to people’s music making. - Oren Myers

Oren Myers writes: My guitars are built in the tradition of Torres and Hauser, with the famous ‘kite’ shape strutting. The traditional guitar is wonderfully malleable and responsive.  It does not impose its sound on the player; rather, it channels the guitarist's personality and accentuates their individuality. Many alternative avenues have opened up in guitar design over the past half century, but this is the design which established the sound of the classical guitar as we know it, and I believe this guitar is still the most warm, sweet and intimate. With my lightly built, traditional instruments I feel I can achieve these qualities without compromising the other, equally important characteristics of the guitar: its excitement, power, and virtuosity.

I have often been told that my guitars are easy to play. I take great care with the shape of the neck and the set-up so that the guitar is comfortable and free of buzzes.  However, I think this ease of playing is actually mainly due to the sound of the guitar.  A responsive instrument will easily achieve the sound and colour that the player is looking for, with the result that they won’t need to work hard to make it sound as they want.  

Within my design there is considerable flexibility for making small adjustments, usually to the thickness of the back and front, the size of the struts and bars, and the depth, width, and length of the guitar’s body.  In this way, through talking with professional players of my guitars and hearing them play in concert, over time I refined my instruments towards having greater ‘presence’ and weight on the concert platform.

As with all guitar makers, with experience I have developed an understanding of and feel for the wood which is very personal: its flexibility, its sound when tapped, and the effect of different levels of density.  With this experience I can achieve the sound that I want by selecting the right soundboard and adjusting its thickness. Each maker has their own criteria and taste in soundboards, and so I nearly always visit the sawmills where the spruce is cut so that I can find exactly the wood that I like. These specialist sawmills are situated in the Alps of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and one of the perks of the job is visiting these beautiful locations.

I find making guitars a challenge and a pleasure. I enjoy the craft of precise woodwork, as well as designing the rosette, purflings and other artistic elements.  But above all I enjoy the fact that guitar making, like playing an instrument, is a never-ending process of development.  Every small experiment and variation – whether with the design or with the selection of the wood – contributes to my  knowledge and allows me to achieve greater consistency and control over the way my guitars sound.

When I started to learn the guitar in my early teens, I initially didn’t realise there was such a thing as Classical Guitar.  I thought I was on a path to playing like Jimi Hendrix.  However, under the guidance of my teacher I was soon very happily converted and started growing my guitar nails. 

The major theme of my lessons was the quality of the sound.  I learnt about the importance of making a sound that was strong, beautiful, and expressive, and which had a lot of variation in tone colour.  In retrospect, this focus on sound was great preparation for making guitars, even though guitar making was not in my mind at the time.

I studied English literature at university, but I kept up my playing and my love of classical music, and so when I finished my studies in 2003, I decided that I would learn to make guitars.  I started by teaching myself from a book, learning the necessary woodcraft along the way.  I also contacted the well-known luthier Christopher Dean for guidance and advice, and over many years he was extremely helpful and generous with his time and knowledge.  A little later in 2007, after I had already made several guitars, I attended Jose Romanillos’ guitar making course in Spain. I have great admiration for Jose’s guitars, and it was fascinating to learn in detail what makes them sound as they do.

Since then, I have established my workshop on a farm in Oxfordshire, making guitars for private commission and had the privilege of playing and measuring many exceptional guitars over the years.