My guitarsA great guitar, regardless of type, should easily transmit the musical ideas of the player, and not get in the way of the creative process. My job as a luthier is to "shorten the distance" between the musician and his/her music. This means making guitars which sound better and play with less effort, for the most discerning classical guitarists.
This also means Custom Building guitars - with the sound, playabilty, woods, features and specifications you want to have.
Dominelli Guitars Evolution:
I started my guitar making career as most luthiers do - copying the guitars made by the great luthiers of the past. Names such as Hauser, Torres, Barbero, Fleta, Simplicio, Ramirez, and others might come to mind. Many traditionally built guitars are great instruments, especially in terms of tone quality and balance. But the problem for many of the new players was these traditional guitars often lacked the volume and projection needed in the concert hall or for ensemble playing. The other problem for luthiers is consistency. Even with many years of experience, it can be difficult to consistently build great guitars when using traditional designs.
For these reasons and others, I became very interested in building modern instruments - new instruments using new materials and new design features. They are louder, project further, and have better playability and dynamics than the traditional guitars I used to built exclusively.
This switch to building modern guitars happened in 2003, when I started experimenting with new designs in lattice bracing. I was not interested in building a copy of Greg Smallman's type of lattice braced guitar. His guitars were really loud and had great playing dynamics, but they were largely criticized for their sound quality, which was nasal in nature. I wanted a guitar with a more traditional tone quality, but with some of the bigger voice and ease of playability of the Smallman style lattice.
The Hybrid Lattice Model
I built several experimental guitars using the lattice bracing concept. A series of refinements led to my creation of the Dominelli Hybrid Lattice Model, which had the sound qualities many concert players were after. It combines a traditional tonality with greater volume and ease of playability. The sound was focused and powerful, and traditional in character, but the trebles were more bell-like. The basses are warm, but tight and focused. I prefer to use cedar for the soundboard and rosewood back and sides for the hybrid lattice model. Cedar gives the lattice the warmth and power that works best for this design.
The Double Top Model
After discovering that many of the world's top concert guitarists were starting to use double top guitars, I wanted to develop my own Double Top Model. In 2007, after attending GFA (the Guitar Foundation of America Convention) in Los Angeles, I got tooled up and started experimenting with Nomex laminations. By 2012 I was almost exclusively making double top guitars with modern features - elevated fingerboards, soundports, armrests, re-inforced necks, and laminated sides.
For more details on how double tops are made, see my "Tech Talk" page.
Double Top Discoveries:
1)Traditional sound quality. As far as my double tops are concerned, they have a very traditional tonal palette. Why? Because I make them this way. I did not copy the double tops of certain other makers. I have put a lot of effort and time into developing the sound I want in my double top model, and I am very happy with where I have arrived in this sense.
Here is the Big Myth: that traditionally made guitars are quieter and have great sound quality, and double tops and lattices are loud but sound bad. It's a myth we have heard over and over, but I excuse many people for believing it, simply because many players have not been exposed to enough good modern guitars.
For the record, any type of guitar can sound good or bad, loud or quiet. It is the luthier, and his/her ability to optimize any design which determines the outcome of the guitar.
Dominelli Double Tops are not boomy, muddy in tone, or lacking in clarity, but have all the best qualities of an excellent classical guitar.
What is a quality sound? I would say this is an accurate description: A great classical guitar must have a presence or character of sound that draws the listener into it’s beauty - the kind of tone that makes the listener take notice, and want to hear more. Further - A fine concert guitar must have balance of register, a strong fundamental, good separation, clarity, some overtone activity, and enough power and projection for the concert hall.
2) Better Volume, Playability and Dynamics, and a more even Register
Greater volume is self explanatory. By Dynamics I'm referring to how well the guitar responds to both gentle and aggressive right hand techniques. Better playability - they deliver more Volume with less effort on the part of the player. This has obvious advantages for anyone, whether student or professional.
The classical guitar world is conservative by nature, and change happens very slowly. But in my 20 year career as a guitar maker I've learned that musicians are very accepting of innovative designs which help them excel as artists. Most players do not have the same prejudices about how a guitar should or should not be made, like luthiers often have. Musicians just want the right musical tool.
For this reason, and for the quality of my work, I have been lucky to build and develop my new line of Modern Concert Guitars.
Please peruse the rest of my web-site. You'll learn more about my guitars, the woods I use, and the features which set my guitars apart from the bulk of classical guitars being made today.
Dominelli Guitars are built with the highest quality of woods, to the finest standards of workmanship.