Historical hints (C.3): The Aurea guitar

Sep 15, 2017

Historical hints (C.3): The Aurea guitar

My father used to tell that, among all the experiments he did when he was a skilled worker of the first class in his father’s workshop, he decided to do his aurea guitar. He knew that “golden section” has been frequently used in paint as well as in classical architecture, as it can be seen in ancient cathedrals and churches, even in the Egyptian pyramids, and also in some instruments. So he decided to do his own tests and he constructed his aurea guitar.

It ended up being a quite strange gadget, quite rectangular, and if you left it standing on the floor it would stand up without trouble, with amazing stability for a guitar. According to his own words, the sound was far from good. So this guitar went around the workshop until my grandfather sold it, which was what he used to do with all my father’s experiments, because in my grandfather’s opinion what they needed was more income and less “junk”.

That’s a pity because if we had kept all my father’s experiments, even the crazy ones, we could have seen the evolution of the guitar that finally has been known as the “Traditional Model”.

The truth is that the Aurea guitar has always been an unresolved matter for my father, as he used to tell my brother and me and, although from time to time he would talk about it, he never resumed this path, at least apparently.

However, I must say that my father had a rich and complex personality and was somewhat prone to mystery, and although he liked to talk to my brother and me about his experiments and the reason why some of the things he had done or he planned to do, sometimes I think he liked to maintain a secret little corner where he would keep information that he never gave us and that accidentally, sometimes, I have been discovering to my surprise.

The Tradicional guitar template

One of these things is that the template for the Traditional Guitar, developed by him, is made up of numerous aurea proportions spread all along the instrument, in its curves and straight lines, hidden inside and outside them, present in the separation of key points and in the reason why of the distances.

But this discovery was given to me when I set myself to do my own golden section experiment. Taking into account the rectangular guitar that ended up being his first experience, I reached the conclusion that my father had been extremely literal in the implementation of the golden section, too much pure. So I made my own design and I constructed my aurea guitar, focusing on the curves more than on the straight lines.

The result was a guitar with a long, long body. In a way, it was similar to the 19th C guitars but bigger, but unlike them, it wasn’t ergonomic at all. To be perfectly honest, playing it is not easy at all, one doesn’t know how to place it and manage with it, and when one gets to do it, I fear it is not for long. Its shape demands quite an indecorous position and is no doubt uncomfortable. But its sound is charming, sweet and well-balanced.

I keep this guitar in my shop, because I like it, and because is my first step in a path that, being now suspended, I have all the intentions to resume. On this occasion, I will be using the criteria of some cathedral and church builders who used to apply the golden section in some areas, in independent parts, but at the same time respecting their relationship with the rest; because this is the perfect proportion for the universe, the human being proportion, the divine proportion, and because it is an irrational number that continues to the infinite without repeating any pattern. What could be best to construct such a charming, multifaceted, mysterious and unpredictable instrument as the guitar? It’s a quite tempting challenge.

Article written by Amalia Ramírez

February 2013, Madrid

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