Leonardo Guitar Research Project
Quarterly Letter, February 2016
we are now at the half way point of the Erasmus+ funded Leonardo Guitar Research Project and we thought that this would be a good opportunity to review what we have achieved so far, what work is currently in progress, and what activities are still to come to complete the project.
Progress on Planned Activities
As you may expect at the halfway stage, we have completed about half of the work and are on track with the rest.
Activities already completed:
- Kick off meeting, Ireland (September 2014)
- Workshops on finishing techniques, Finland (March 2015), and physical characteristics, UK (Oct 2015)
- Transnational Project Board meetings, Finland (March 2015) and UK (Oct 2015)
- Work placements at Lorenzo Frignani’s workshop, Italy (4 students)
- Work placements at Thomas Holt’s workshop, Spain (3 students)
- Project website with public access in place. Project Facebook page in place (>1000 likes)
- European Commission project video based on interview with Adrian Lucas from Newark College
Activities in progress:
The major activity at the moment is the making of ca 30 student guitars across the 3 schools, with non-tropical and tropical woods for comparative evaluations.
Other activities currently in progress include:
- A literature study on physical characteristics definitions of (non-tropical) woods (for one of the Intellectual
Outputs - see below)
- Additional work for the Intellectual Outputs on aesthetical aspects and physical characteristics of
non-tropical woods (e.g. fretting tests, neck-stability simulations, humidity tests etc)
- Establishment of mentoring process for student work placements
- Further development of our luthier network and website for cooperation and sharing of best practices (so
far over 150 people have signed up to receive the website newsletters and more than 30 luthiers have
joined the luthier network - these numbers increase each time we give a lecture or exhibit at a guitar fair)
All objectives, planned activities, targets and results are on track with the initial project submission:
- Belgium workshop (May 2016), see below
- Work placements for 8 students in Italy and France (2016)
- Staff/teacher training event (Italy, Autumn 2016)
- Technical evaluations of guitar components and finished guitars
- Comparison sound testing of the finished guitars
- Pulling together results, learnings, materials etc. into the committed intellectual outputs (see below)
- Development of the supply base of non-tropical woods
- Communication package for broadscale dissemination of project results and learnings
- Preparation and running of the Multiplier Event (May 2017) - (see below)
One requirement of the Erasmus+ program is that the project would develop a number of Intellectual Outputs that will be broadly shared within the guitar lutherie community. These will mainly be publications of the results of our project research. In line with initial commitments, the following Intellectual Outputs are within various stages of progress and will be delivered on time:
- I.0.1: Handbook on Characteristics of non-tropical woods for acoustic guitar making
- I.0.2: Methodology for Evaluating Acoustic Guitars
- I.0.3: Teaching aid on Environmental Considerations and Forest Management
In addition, since the original Erasmus+ grant application, we have added three new intellectual outputs. These are being managed with existing resources via a rebalancing of the budget.
- I.0.4: Glossarium of Definitions for Wood Characteristics
- I.0.5: Research paper on the History of Non-tropical Wood used in Guitar Building
- I.0.6: User Manual for use by Wood Suppliers to correctly saw (non-tropical) tonewoods
Communication and Dissemination
The main dissemination of the project results and intellectual outputs will take place at our Multiplier Event in May 2017. We expect this Multiplier Event will be well attended by professional and student guitar makers, lutherie teachers, musicians, environmental experts, and wood suppliers etc., because we will run the Multiplier Event one day ahead of our Cordefactum Guitar Festival and we will target invitations across the luthier and guitar community.
In addition to presenting and disseminating the intellectual outputs, all other LGRP results will be shared at the Multiplyer Event. The project guitars will be exhibited and played during one or two public concerts, and we’ll invite teachers, luthiers and other experts to give some lectures on the project and on related topics.
But above and beyond the Multiplyer Event we are already active in communicating the project progress and results obtained so far via exhibiting project guitars and other project materials, organising showcases and offering lectures at various (international guitar) events and occasions. Many of the project team members and students from the schools have played an active part in running these events. The events have included:
- Gitaarbouwersmeeting, Barneveld, Netherlands (October 2014)
- Holy Grail Guitar Show, Berlin, Germany (November 2014)
- Music club ‘t Ey, Belsele, Belgium (November 2014)
- Leonardo da Vinci communication event, Flemish Parliament, Brussels, Belgium (January 2015)
- Holy Grail Guitar Show, Berlin, Germany (October-November 2015)
- WWF event, Brussels, Belgium (November 2015)
- Salon Guitare à la Belle Villoise, Paris, France (December 2015)
- Musicora, Paris, France (February 2016)
Feedback from luthiers and other attendees at these above events has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive of the project. Below are some photos from our recent events in France.
Other potential events still to be confirmed include:
- Frankfurt Musikmesse, Germany (Spring 2016 or 2017)
- The Acoustic Guitar Festival, UK (June 2016)
- Holy Grail Guitar Show, Germany (Autumn 2016)
- Tampere Guitar Festival, Finland (June 2017)
Opportunities are also taken to publish the project in the local, national and international press. We have recently published an article titled Tropical vs Non-Tropical Woods for Classical Guitars in the renowned magazine American Lutherie (Volume 124, Winter 2015).
Belgian Workshop (May 2016)
Finally a few words about our next workshop that will be hosted by the Cmb from May 9-13, 2016. Five students from Newark College, UK and 5 students from Ikata, Finland will join us in Puurs for an exciting week of LGRP related activities. Key elements of the program include: learning about sustainable forest management, guided visit to a sustainable managed forest, lecture on the use of non-tropical woods by guitar makers in a historical perspective, hands on experience of French polishing, a visit to the MIM, Brussels and more.
Peter De Rop
Leonardo Guitar Research Project