His guitars do the same thing as a powerful sports car – they give you the urge to really go for itDavid Caswell
I began making guitars in 1972 while working as an advertising copywriter to support my family. Over the years I have made copies of guitars by makers whom I admire: Robert Bouchet, Santos Hernandez, Hernandez & Aguado, Ignacio Fleta.
Each of my copies had good qualities, as the people who own them will testify. But I thought they could be improved. Occasionally I would hear or play a really outstanding guitar – a Simplicio, a Miguel Rodriguez, a Manuel Reyes, a Jeronimo Fernandez Pena for instance. If I could, I would examine these guitars to find out what made them excel. Most have roughly similar fan-shaped bracing patterns. My thinking was that this type of bracing is not ideal for the efficient production of sound. I concluded that it must be the maker who adds something to the sound by the way he builds.
I enrolled in the Guildhall University’s fretted instrument course to find out more. I began experimenting by breaking the braces and radiating them outwards from under the bridge. One of the biggest influences in pursuing this course of building has been Michael Cone, an American who built guitars for the great Rey de la Torre. He has taken the radiating strut theory to its logical conclusion by bending the struts under the bridge. He was very generous in passing on what he had learned.
Of course, there are many ways to build classical and flamenco guitars, but I find this system works well for me, producing guitars with great power, bright trebles and balance.
In 2001 one of my guitars was displayed in “The art of the Luthier” exhibition at Linley’s in London.
In May 2002 I gave a talk on guitar construction to the Society of Wood Scientists at Brunel University.
I live and work in London.