The top is signed and finally glued
to the "Special Cutaway" frame
The Bellucci signed series, carries
my signature, the
date and the acronym D.O.G (Deo
Omnis Gloria, To God all the glory)
approximately 30 mails every day from my nearly 2,000 online guitar students
scattered throughout the planet. I will start posing some of the best questions
they pose and my answers to shed some light on classical guitar playing
and technique in general... we can all benefit from another player's questions
Question by James:
Renato, I am starting to work on Retrato
Brasiliero this weekend ( www.mangore.com/retrato_brasilero_all.html).
I do have some questions before I start: In reviewing the sheet music I
noticed that in the first measure the RH notation you play the slur with
"a" then play the b with "a" again. Why not "m"? There is also a similar
RH fingering in measure 6. Why not "a,m,a"? I realize that I can finger
it how I want but I am curious about the reasoning in doing this way. Thank you, Jim
The guitar player must achieve 2
1) Keep the sound of each voice in
the music even. The best way to achieve it is by using the same right hand
finger whenever the scenario in question permits... this scenario is
true most of the time.
2)The player must always know which
right hand finger is plucking which string. Due to the way most players
practice (looking almost exclusively at the left hand), the right hand
fingering is often neglected.
For instance, if you close your
eyes and think of a piece you play, you will be able to envision your left
hand moves but will most likely not know what is happening with the right
The right hand is where 90% of
playing mistakes generate. Too many players pay too little attention
to the right hand fingering. If we did the exact opposite, we would be
more proficient players with very little or no mistakes...
I have received the following complaint
by many students in the nearly 32 years that I have been teaching classical
guitar: "I have practiced the piece many times, but it seldom comes
out flawless.... most times times it does not... I feel like my playing
The guitar is about synchronizing
the 2 hands and the right hand fingers ought to lead the synchronization
process. If you observe the playing of a great number of players, you will
notice that what they do is the exact opposite.
I will use a piece performed by one
of all times greatest musicians, Kazuhito Yamashita to illustrate what
I have just explained above. The last time I Attended a Masterclass
by Andres Segovia was in 1986 at the USC Campus... during one of
the masterclasses, someone from the audience asked the following question
to the Spanish Master: -How can I achieve that particular sound you
produce Maestro? Segovia answered:
"Listen to my recordings very
carefully". Today, we can change that phrase for a much more
fulfilling one: Look at my video ! The problem is that many people
are, practically speaking, blind and often miss what is happening right
in front of their eyes.
Watch the following video by Master
Kazuhito Yamashita performing an amazing transcription of Bach Prelude
BWV 1012 for unaccompanied Cello and follow my minute by minute technique
-As early as 20 seconds into
the playing, Yamashita uses the same right hand finger to carry the melody
-36": the 2 counter pointing
notes are also played with the same finger to keep the sound even
-1':21" NOTE: *Yamashita moves
a lot but many of those moves are intentional and are meant to keep the
instrument away from the body so as to allow for more power to be produced
due to the lack of dampening resulting from direct contact of the instrument
with the body (see image)
The complete section starting at
the upper bout does not make contact with Yamashita's chest (the resulting
sound is a bell-like sound)
-1':47" you get a great close
up of the single finger repetition (i finger)
-1':56" more single finger
You'll see more and more of this
and then, at 2':36" Yamashita uses 2 right hand fingers fingers
to bring out a single notes with more power... he does this several times...
at times he uses i with m and other times m with a.
-At 3':26" he starts alternating
finger simply to get "oiled up" for the fast section starting at 3:'47"
-Starting at 4':00" his right
hand performs 4 different scale techniques simultaneously: alternate fingers,
single finger on the same string, single finger across strings, hammer
ons and pull offs. Every right hand finger knows exactly what it's doing
or the result would be total disaster... Display of talent and HARD WORK
! (Nippon spirit)
-At 4':24: Yamashita tunes
the 6th string with the ease of one who's playing Romance...
without a doubt one of the greatest guitar players and musicians of all
times. Born in 1961 he belongs to a generation that saw when Neil Armstrong
set foot of the moon in 1969... he already was an accomplished player when
he saw the televised Apollo events. This generation of players carried
the belief that anything is possible and when the '80s came along they
were ready to show it. Kazuhito went on to win every guitar competition
in the world and in the mid 80s achieved his very personal "lunar landing"...
he transcribed Mussorgsky's Pictures at an exhibition for classical
guitar and premiered the work in Toronto. Below is an excerpt from
that landmark performance... This performance changed the guitar scene
FOREVER ! The video quality is poor but what you see and hear is unbelievable...
he was only 24 years old... hear and look carefully because this is perhaps
the only time you will see the guitar reach such AMAZING heights...
Pianist Barry Douglas had just won
the Tchaikovsky piano competition playing the same piece and was the first
Briton to win the competition ever. Therefore "Pictures at an exhibition"
was THE PIECE of the time... what nobody could believe was that such a
minute instrument as the guitar could make it shine...and shine it did....
Yamashita invented innumerable techniques in order to play the piece being
one of the most striking a tremolo played using the little finger ONLY
(ch) which is a finger that is not normally used in guitar playing...he
needed the other fingers to carry on simultaneous chords... I will examine
the complete work in the future... Finally, I'll inviteyou to enjoy another
amazing performance by Kazuhito that same evening in Toronto.... playing
La Boda de Luis Alonso
After almost 8 hours of patient
and extremely precise luthery work, the Special cutaway (Indented style)
October 6, 2011
This is a "Special Cutaway", Brazilian
Rosewood Bellucci concert guitar fresh out of the mold (Oct. 6, 2011).
Once the sides are bonded, the guitar top and back will be glued... I'll
post this beauty as soon as she's finished...
October 5, 2011 I am always amazed at how God intervenes
and manages to make each day special, complete and unique in every aspect.
Even when we are under the false impression that the days repeat
themselves monotonously, the truth is that each day is full of new sensations,
feelings and dispositions. If we take the time to allow this truth
to sink in and, hopefully, try to discover God's treats for us at
every passing hour, our lives would definitely improve exponentially. This
preface is to describe what happened today... yes, today, one of
those many "todays" we are blessed with regularly. On my way back
from Mass, I "discover" that Gaby, the daughter of one of my high school
classmates and life long friend Sarah, is a passionate cook. Add to this
that Gaby has a special place in her heart for the guitar ! I do
my homework to get a hold of her cell phone number and send her a
message saying that I'd be honored to try out one of her dishes...
To my surprise, Gaby replies to my message immediately saying that she'd
be equally honored and that within a few hours she would personally bring
"something" she would cook for me to my home....
At approximately 8:30 PM, Gaby arrives
at my doorstep in the company of her boyfriend Juan Carlos and a young
married couple Chiara and Ado and their 1 year old baby. They were carrying
these amazing dishes that Gaby had prepared for me and my family:
Gaby's Ensalada de hongos
Gaby's Papas al horno
Gaby's Lomo al Roquefort
Gaby's Mozzarella and dried tomatoes
Every single dish deserved an A++.
I mean you could tell that Gaby's
hands made a labor of love and the choice of every spice was perfect. Her
talent for cuisine is undeniable and all I can hope for is to be blessed
with more of these exquisite dishes.
Needless to say, I was speechless.
I immediately had to think of something to pay back a little bit
of Gaby's amazing outpour of generosity and decided to show her my concert
guitars and my Barrios-Mangoré' guitar one
of only 3 surviving and even played Stanley Myers´ "Cavatina"
For Belén my wife and our
children, Juan Carlos, Ado, Chiara and their little boy attending this
"genuinely special event" was also a tremendously rewarding experience.
We knew that all our bonds of love and affection were being marked deeply.
Everything that happened on the evening of October the 5th "somewhere in
Asunción-Paraguay" was being watched and blessed from Heaven.
21 years ago yesterday, my wife Belén
and I were married in Saint Francis Church in downtown Asunción.
We have been given the gift of 7 beautiful children. Yesterday, It was
also the day we buried our 11 years old son Alessandro.
Belén and I always knew we
had a Christian mission to fulfill which was to bring our children to this
world to be happy, educate them in the Catholic Faith and make sure that
they received the necessary "tools" in order to reach their final destination:
In order to achieve such a Mission,
Belén, our 7 children and I had to cement "our fortress of love"
on the rock of Faith and keep our eyes on the Cross.
Alessandro received the last rites
and gave us, 15 days of immense Grace, Peace and Prayers so as to be ready
to accompany him to rest in The Virgin Mary warm embrace.
Our indescribable pain is accompanied
by an even more indescribable Peace, Heavenly Grace, feeling of "mission
accomplished" and the warm love and Prayers of so many friends. We are
strong in Christ and, on my behalf and that of my wife Belén and
children, want to thank every single one of you for the overwhelming support
during this toughest test...the hardest one we ever had to overcome. Amen
-Friday July 1st, 2011 My
dear friend and student Gary was in Asunción for a 2 weeks intensive
guitar course. I must say that not only did he surpass every expectation
I had regarding his person but he also surpassed every expectation as to
the immense passion he puts into guitar music. His determination to overcome
the technical difficulties that each piece we approached posed were simply
a good reason to increase his will-power and determination.
We approached technique through
the learning of pieces. As soon as we encountered a difficult passage,
I´d present Gary with the technical means to overcome the difficulty.
Sometimes, he would come up with the solution by just using his intuition
and common sense. 3 days into the 2 weeks course, Gary sounded and looked
like a pro. I must stress that he possesses a very beautiful guitar sound
and many years playing the electric guitar definitely added to his great
musicality. On the classical front, he left Asuncion playing the best part
of Asturias, Romance, Dust in the Wind and Cavatina... Gary already made
the hotel reservations for next year and I look forward to the day we meet
again because we have become good friends... more buddies than friends
actually... I know he is enjoying his Summer cabin near Kodiak as I write
my memories of those 2 wonderful weeks.
I often tell my students and customers
that shorter guitar scales are one of the best approaches to mastering
the instrument. Passing from one scale to another requires very little
time to adjust if any at all. The difference between 650 and 630 is quite
dramatic. If you look at the picture above I took of 2 fingerboards I had
ready for comparison, you will see that there is almost a 1 fret difference
towards the 19th fret. That is a lot especially who have small hands and
a limited stretch.
Sound wise, you have a little loss
but I compensate during the construction. In the next few days I will be
offering a 630 mm Blackwood/Spruce I tested today prior lacquering... You
will not believe the sound on this babe: AMAZING !!!
May 15th 2011
My 7 children and their cousins
posed with their Grandma on Mother's day. Asunción, May 15 2011,
Paraguay's Bicentennial day.
May 13th 2011: My wife Belén spends a lot
of time with her best friends from college: Diana, Lore and Ceci. We hang
out together a lot and as you can see from the pictures below, good food
is always the best excuse. We had Fondue at a nice restaurant in San Bernardino,
Café Frances, and Pasta at Bellini in downtown Asunción.
April 30th 2011: Part 1:
The Vigil of a night to remember...
just say that last night was a GLORIOUS night. I will elaborate on everything
that happened on this Friday, April 29th 2011 later today. Having the 3
best guitar players on the planet play your instruments in your home and
surrounded by your wife and children is recognition I could have only dreamed
of when I started building my guitars in 2004. Last night, it all
changed thanks to the talent and generosity of these amazing artists. As
a token, I'll let you enjoy this clip of Ana Vidovic playing Asturias on
one of my latest creations... Ana loved each single instrument and had
words of admiration and flattering compliments for each one of my guitars.
Needless to say, I was in Heaven ! She appreciated the violin tie
as a "genial system", the special cutaway and the radius... The inlay
work on a cedar top and the detailing in the construction literally kept
her in awe. I elaborated on my innovations and we share the same innovative
sprit in life. Her guitar technique for instance, is flawless and
different from anything you have ever seen before. Her motto is "if
it works for you...". Ana is an amazing artist and her trademark is
the simplicity of the GREAT souls that illuminate our lives. A lot
This is an anecdotal report of the
facts and by no means associates Ana Vidovic with Bellucci guitars from
a sponsoring or business point of view.
Guitarist Ana Vidovic, looking
at the tie system
Ana was amazed at the amazing inlay
and detailing of the guitars
Thursday April 29th 2011: Today
is the vigil of a very special day and not because Prince Williams is getting
married tomorrow but because tomorrow evening, I will have 3 of the most
famous and prestigious guitar players in the world at home for dinner.
Ana Vidovic from Croatia, Sharon Isbin from the US and Xuefei Yang
from China. Daiana Ferreira Da Costa, the renowned Paraguayan guitarist
and former Miss Paraguay, contacted me a few months ago when she was organizing
the "Divas" guitar festival in Asuncion which is part of the many events
that will take place this year to celebrate Paraguay's Bicentennial. Daiana
knew that she could count on my help and, as we had dinner at my home in
San Bernardino, we planned activities to entertain the visiting Divas on
their week long stay in the land of Barrios Mangoré. They will be
traveling to San Juan Bautista to visit Agustin Barrios Mangoré
birthplace among other Paraguayan landmarks. One of the activities
we organized is the dinner party that I will hold tomorrow evening. I will
present them with the Agustin Barrios guitar that I have in my possession.
I will also present them a few of my concert guitars.
As you can imagine, I have been working
around the clock to make sure that everything is perfect. Typical Paraguayan
appetizers, aho poi table decoration, flowers and a myriad
little details to ensure a night to remember. My wife Belén
and our 7 children will be attending the memorable event. I know
that they have over a dozen pictures of the Divas ready to be autographed.
Ana Vidovic (31) is from a small
town, Karlovac near Zagreb, Croatia, and started playing guitar at the
age of 5. By the age of 7 had given her first public performance. She has
won every prestigious guitar competition in the world and graduated under
Manuel Barrueco in 2005. She has played well over 1000 concerts worldwide
and is considered one of the best guitar players ever.
Sharon Isbin (55) is practically
speaking a legend. She's originally from Minneapolis, and began her guitar
studies at age nine in Italy where she studied with Maestro Oscar Ghiglia.
Since those early years she has marked the guitar world deeply by becoming
the Director of guitar departments at the Aspen Music Festival and The
Juilliard School which she created in l989 becoming the first and only
guitar instructor in the institution's 100-year history. She's a Grammy
Award winner and a regular player at the White House.
Xuefei Yang (34) was discovered by
world renowned guitar Player John Williams who literally introduced her
to the Royal Academy of Music in London after hearing her play in China.
She has won innumerable prizes in guitar competitions and has toured the
world several times over.
The other great
Diva that will be participating in the week long Festival is Paraguayan
world renowned guitarists Berta Rojas. She will not be attending dinner
because she is touring and will be arriving in Asuncion next Monday just
in time for her evening gala concert. Berta is a sensational guitarist
and a dear friend of mine. We have been classmates at the Asuncion conservatory,
and shared first prize in an historical Barrios Competition back in 1982.
My contribution to her astronomical career has been to tell her about Abel
carlevaro and leveling the path for her to meet and study under the great
Uruguayan Maestro. Berta moved on to winning International competitions
and, soon after, was touring the world. She is one of the most celebrated
classical guitarists in the world today. Her playing is lively, brilliant
and she possesses one of the best guitar techniques I have ever seen.
Below, you can see the Ana Vidovic,
Xuefei Yang and Sharon Isbin paying my
guitars a memorable April Evening 2011. Also, an exclusive excerpt
of Ana Vidovic playing Asturias on one of my Spruce top concert
2, 2011: A night
with Ana Vidovic, Sharon Isbin and Fei Yang (part 2)
I will now start to remember everything
that happened on this memorable April 30th chronologically. Preparing our
home was the first step to ensure that the atmosphere would complement
the event to perfection and ensure that everyone would feel at home. My
home is a piece of art on her own right. Being a guitarist, married to
a pianist (my wife Belén is an accomplished classical pianist and
a nutritionist), our nest had to represent us justly. Our home has
been the focal point of musical encounters since the late 1970s...
It has been photographed by every major decoration/architecture magazine
you can think of and innumerable commercials have been filmed here.....
it is one of Paraguay's most beautiful homes built in a Mediterranean style
with a Paraguayan touch to it.
The pictures below depict the music
living room one hour before Ana Vidovic, Sharon Isbin and Fei Yang arrived.
Everything was perfect... only the candles remained to be lit.
The 3 guitars on the left are 3 Bellucci
guitars along with the cedar top on the right side of the table. To the
left side of the table, you can see Agustin Barrios 1918 guitar. Every
single guitar was played by the Divas and they all had preciously rewarding
words to dedicate to them.
The 3 guitars to the left are:
Purple Heart, Palo Escrito and Tasmanian Oak back and sides -starting from
the far right-. The 2 guitars on the table are Brazilian rosewood babes.
Each wood has its own very unique set of tone colors just like different
species or blends of tobaccos or bouquets of wines...
This is the view of the house as each
one of the players would see it when playing sitting in a chair that was
located right under the window to the gallery in the picture above. Before
the guests arrived, I sat tuned each guitar to perfection using my tuning
fork. The first to play was Sharon Isbin and she commented "Wow she
is perfectly tuned !" ... I know that she probably expected to find her
out of tune but Mr. Bellucci will simply not let something like this happen
May 3rd 2011:
Friday had been a very nice day with
a temperature in the high 20s C (80.6 F). At about 6 PM a torrential rain
preceded by lightning and thunder begun... The windows in the gallery overlooking
the garden started to get steamed up as the humidity had reached its peak
outside and the air conditioner was maintaining a comfortable 20 C inside.
This added to the mystic of the evening since the illumination of the garden
coming in through the large steamed windows created a wonderful diffused
effect.... Romantic to say the least. Therefore, even the torrential
rain was adding up to the already electrifying atmosphere.
My only concern was the flooded streets
of Asunción that literally become city rivers in a matter of minutes.
A call from Guitarist Diana Ferreia immediately eased me up...she tells
me, in her always joyful tone of voice, "The girls and I are on our
way... the traffic and the flood may delay us a bit..."
Finally, at 7:30 I hear the engine
of an SUV and a door closing just outside the driveway. My wife Belén
opens the door to start greeting the girls. My 7 children and I welcomed
them in the house with flowers, kisses and hugs... :-)
They thanked us for the flower
welcoming and proceeded to to praise our home and the beautiful architecture.
After a brief walk through the four main living rooms adjacent one to the
other and only separated by arches, their attention was focused on the
guitar display I had prepared with anticipation.
Sharon Isbin, Xuefei Yang, Ana Vidovic,
As Sharon Isbin was preparing to
play on my 1918 Barrios guitar, Ana was closely looking and admiring the
amazing work on the Bellucci Cedar top that was laying on the table. "Very
beautiful... look at all the inlay work ! ¨ Xuefei was right next
to her and would follow up on Ana comments with "yes, really beautiful"
. They would slowly gain confidence and start caressing the parts of
the guitar with their beautifully stylized hands...
Ana Vidovic and Xuefei Yang admiring
the Bellucci cedar top as Sharon Isbin
was preparing to play on Barrios'
As soon as I passed Barrios guitar
to Sharon she started admiring the beauty of the inlay work and the amazing
restoration work performed on the 1888 instrument. The guitar is a first
class turn of the 18th century Torres
As they were admiring the guitar,
Sharon Isbin was preparing to play on the 1918 Barrios guitar that I had
just handed to her. We sat down and started hearing Sharon comments on
the 1888 Marin guitar (Agustin Barrios played this guitar for the last
time at the Luque Cathedral in 1918). "What a sweet sound, beautiful...
what is the scale?...." I answered " 650..." Soon after we were all immersed
in the most beautiful music played by the greatest performers... Bach,
Barrios, Rodrigo, Lauro and many other legendary composers echoed through
my home as each performer was taking turns to play ...
Below you can see Fei, Ana and Sharon
playing my concert guitars. Fei fell in love with the Tasmanian Oak and
played one piece after the other non stop.... She only came to realize
was playing a cutaway when her hand passed the 12 fret as nothing was there
to contain the rapid movement of the arm.... She laughed and said... "ah,
she's a cutaway ! So easy to play". To which I followed up saying
" yes, I think all guitars should be cutaways" . To this day, I
believe that the cutaway is the best evolution in the classical guitar
construction since its very origin. I must stress that Fei is a very funny
and gentle person....
more later... -Wednesday,
May 4th 2011: (Part 4)
continuing with the chronological recount, I must make a brief pause and
report on last night's amazing concert that Ana Vidovic offered to a packed
house. Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo was there and so were every diplomatic
and political personality you can imagine. I have looked into the dictionary
to find the right words and adjectives to describe the emotions, mastery
and artistry that this splendid artist can create and offer from stage
and in the intimacy of everyday life....
In my 49 years with the guitar I
have listened to innumerable masters and every time, I would raise the
bar and eventually reached the conclusion that John Williams was "the King"...
well, apparently there is also a Queen or, to be more precise, 4 Queens...
Last night, Ana made the Asuncion Flores theater explode with joy and euphoria...
When an artist moves so close to
perfection, you know she's offering an idea of what the Heavens are like...
you remember that humans are capable of the most amazing feats. When
you start a concert with one of Bach most demanding works and finish with
a similarly tough bone as Barrios' La Catedral you make a statement and
you leave a deep mark in every one's heart and soul. Add to this the great
artistry and the gentle soul that Ana possesses, and you know that you
are in the presence of greatness.
Bravo Ana for having worked so hard
in polishing your God given talent. It brings joy to so many hearts
in as far away places as the land of Barrios... Paraguay ....
May 5th 2011:
I have never bought 5 CDs by a single
artist ever. It all changed at Xuefei Yang concert last Tuesday. After
hearing her play live at home last Friday, playing an amazingly wide repertoire
and showing a perfect technique and feeling for music,
I had to
buy her CD collection and I did just that as I entered the Asunción
Flores theater where she was about to perform.
It was the opening night of the Divas
guitar festival in Asunción. A 2 parts concert where both Xuefei
Yang and Ana Vidovic would leave a deep, unforgettable mark in everyone
who attended (over 1,500 people).
The amount of pieces Fei recorded
in a 10 years span is amazing. Below are the 5 CDs I purchased. Mine were
dedicated and autographed at the dinner we had after the concert at Rolandi,
a first class restaurant at walking distance from the hotel where Fei and
the other Divas were staying.
I have been listening to her CDs
non stop since I purchased them on Tuesday. Dazzling music performed by
a true master of the guitar. Xuefei will be performing at Carnegie hall
this coming December and that is a placereserved for music
Royalty. She was heading straight for Beijing from Asunción to take
part in a the very prestigious Beijing Music Festival 2011.
The Beijing Music Festival is the
summit for the topnotch classical and jazz musicians. In the past, the
festival hosted well acclaimed musicians and orchestras like the Vienna
Boys Choir, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsche Oper Berlin
and The Kenyan Boys Choir. This festival also strives to schedule rarely
performed pieces or premiers like Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’
and Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle. The organizers also think about the young
music lovers and organize concerts for them without any admission fee.
It is a truly global and cutting edge musical experience and Fei will be
Concierto de Aranjuez
40 degrees North
Romance de Amor
The pieces she recorded are amazingly
beautiful, challenging and she literally covers every type of repertoire
you can think of: Bach, Albéniz, Tárrega, The Beatles, Granados,
Stephen Goss, Wang Huiran, Barrios and the list goes on and on... The only
challenge she may face is finding more music for future projects :-).
See Xuefei play my guitars and Barrios'
See Xuefei Yang ripped it
at the Asuncion Festival
Xuefei Yang delighted me and everyone
else at the dinner party I held at my home. She played several pieces from
her vast repertoire on all my guitars plus the 1918 Barrios´
guitar from my collection. Her technique is polished to the maximum and
her fingers fly as she plays the different pieces from the great repertoire
she possesses. In the video, Fei comments that the Barrios guitar
is "small", indeed she has a small body, typical of the turn of the 19th
century although the scale is a full 650mm. As it were to be expected,
Xuefei played Barrios´
Un sueño en la floresta on my
1918 Barrios guitar. That was a surreal moment... I can only
imagine the Paraguayan composer rejoicing in Heaven. She particularly loved
the power of my Spruce top and at a certain point in the execution, she
comes to realize that it's a cutaway because her hand finds no restrain
at the 12th fret and laughs it out !...
The concert on the 3rd of May was
pure mastery of the instrument and the repertoire. President Lugo
attended and he can be seen in the video joking with Sharon Isbin. I was
assigned seats right in front of the President and I could hear his comments
of satisfaction as Fei executed each piece to perfection. Fei plays with
a total dominion of the instrument, a polished sound that only few masters
can develop and she proved that the great land of China is the cradle of
talent beyond everyone's imagination. I look forward to receiving her in
Paraguay soon again.
May 13th 2011:
One of the greatest satisfactions
that awaited for me on that memorable night (April 29th, 2011) with Sharon
Isbin, Xuefei Yang,
Ana Vidovic was the possibility
to play for them and my entire family. I used Barrios' 1918 guitar.
Anyone who is passionate about a
particular area of human art or history, will understand that certain
can easily become a man's favorite possession.
Imagine for instance being a piano
player and having the possibility to own and play one of Beethoven's pianos...
or a Van Gogh admirer and owning one of his many brushes... Well, the same
is true with Barrios' guitar. The greatest composer for the guitar ever,
left one of his instruments behind and I was the man chosen to possess
such a beauty and pass it on to future generations. I received her in deplorable
conditions and after nearly 10 months of restoration work took her back
to her original splendor. You can read the complete story of this beauty
These amazing ladies all took turns
to play Agustin Barrios' guitar... (Bellucci collection)
Comments posted since posting this
Waugh from the US: extremely impressive, Renato!!!
Bora from Indonesia: Maestro Renato, that's going to be one really
musical dinner. Wow, the very best of guitarists. And beautiful Ana!!!
:-) I wish I were there :-(
Guzman Villanueva from the US: Una lastima no poder ir pero deseo
un acontesimiento espectacular!!!
Civa from Indonesia: Is Ana married? Ehm... just curious:)
Jalili Ziyaeian from Iran, marvelous evening with great guitarists. Maestro,
have a nice time with them
Krygier from the US, What a gala. All that talent around your dinner
table. Enjoy. And the rest of the blog entries are so interesting. I met
David Russell here a few years ago after a concert and Marcin Dyla another
year. This year, Jason Vieaux will be here.all have been very gracious
to say hello and talk for a few minutes. You are much appreciated.
Resta from Italy, complimenti Renato, che soddisfazione per te e tutti
The other amazing token of Grace,
came through the comment that a luthier from Granada, Spain posted after
I uploaded my latest creation:
Javier's Epic Paraguayan barbecue
April 26, 2011: Some souls
have the gift or talent to change another person's life for the best with
a simple gesture or a simple action... I asked Gary (see previous entry
to my blog dated April 22) to mail me a picture from the time he
served in Vietnam with the Green Berets and he did A LOT more than that.
He got in his full uniform and snapped a picture with his latest Custom
Bellucci guitar in his arms... Man, I am speechless. Thanks dear friend
for making this day a super special day !!
The other amazing token of Grace, came
through the comment that a luthier from Granada, Spain posted after I uploaded
my latest creation:
Fernando Moreno from Granada, Spain, Hola señor Bellucci le escribo
simplemente para saludarle y comentarle que sus guitarras son un alucine,
es increible el trabajazo y la finura con que usted termina sus guitarras,
es sublime, enorabuena, seria un placer algun dia poderlo conocer. Reciba
un cordial saludo Att Fernando Moreno. Hello Mr Bellucci, I am
writing to you to greet you and compliment you because your guitars are
amazing, the work and grace in the finishing details is sublime, congratulations.
It would be an honor to meet you one day. Best Regards... When you
consider that Granada is, practically speaking, the homeland of the classical
guitar, you'll understand the grandeur of the compliment.
Friday April 22, 2011: Every year,
approximately 8 students come from different parts of the world to study
classical guitar with me in person. I am one of the few guitar teachers
in the world to teach Carlevaro
technique both online and in person.
Today I received
the background information of one of my International students that will
be coming to Asunción for a 2 weeks intensive guitar course in June
2011. He stands out from the average guitar students for a series of
reason. Let alone that anyone traveling so far to receive guitar instruction
is proof enough that he/she is not the average guitar student, Gary
has his very unique set of amazing life stories to make him
really stand out from the crowd. Gary is originally from Montana
but moved to Kodiak Alaska where he has been living since 1958. In my mind,
Alaska is the last frontier... Gary enlisted in the US army right
out of high school and managed to become a member of the elite force the
the closest I got to know a Green Beret was Sylvester Stallone in Rambo
and John Tyree in "Dear John", therefore, you can only imagine my excitement
to the idea that a real Green Beret and guitarist would soon
be in Asunción.
2 tours in Vietnam and was seriously injured in several occasions. He retired
from the elite group in 1974.
After a long
time recovering from the war injuries, he managed to attend college and
study atmospheric sciences and Meteorology. Upon graduation, Gary went
to work for the Department of Commerce as a forecaster. He traveled extensively
throughout Alaska and, finally, ended up back in Kodiak in 1984. He has
loved the guitar since he can remember and he already possesses 3
Bellucci Custom guitars. He decided to make the pilgrimage to Asuncion
and boost his technique with my help. Needless to say, he will take Paraguayan
warmth back with him to Alaska and he will be an honorary visitor to
the land of Barrios.
Kodiak , Alaska
April 17, 2011: Another spectacular
weekend at Sanber as the Holy week starts with Palm Sunday. The weather
was more like Summer and it is typical of this time of the year. We pass
from 20 degrees Celsius to 35 in just a couple of days... This will probably
be the last warm weather before the short yet rigid Winter hits us. Needless
to say, our Winters are mild compared to Northern Hemisphere countries.
My students that come from the States around June which is our Winter,
go around town in their tee shirts when all the locals are wearing coats
the visit of my Brother in Law Javier who came for a barbecue Paraguayan
style with his wife, and 2 of their 3 sons. They arrived in Javier's
black beamer and I decided to immortalize the moment.
My brother in-law Javier in his
new black beamer roadster
Javier is a civil engineer and he
is one of the best barbecue makers I know. Today's barbecue was no exception...
I mean, look at the picture below and you will understand what I mean in
a heartbeat !
Javier's Epic Paraguayan barbecue
Only a long siesta could put us back
on our feet after the above bonanza...
April 16, 2011: My youngest
son Matias filled my bedroom with music at siesta time. He is already half
way through the first part of Romance at his tender 5 years of age.
I get shivers every time my children play the guitar. They all play the
guitar and some of them also play the piano and the violin. It all comes
very natural to them. My wife is a Nutritionist but a graduate piano student
Matias playing Romance at siesta
I was in the pool most of the afternoon
and stayed in the water well past sunset. The water was perfect and with
Paraguayan Winter just around the corner, this will probably be one of
the last pool parties of the season.
Renato's home in Sanber... picture
taken from the pool
A glorious day by the lake comes
to a close....
April 15, 2011: I woke up
very early this morning.... somewhere around 6... I knew it was going to
be an especially laborious day because today marked the launch of a new
line of Bellucci concert guitars. This new venture was working in the back
of my mind to the point of getting me out of bed much earlier than usual.
I decided to call the new line "The Bellucci Da Vinci Series". I
have always been a very curious person and I have a very keen imagination.
When you take this to the luthery arena, the possibilities seem to be endless.
Instruments like the guitar are constantly undergoing change and innovation.
The new line of guitars will be centering about any and all type of evolution
that I bring about in the construction of classical guitars. This was the
case with today's first Da Vinci guitar: "Homage to Abel Carlevaro"...
Bellucci Da Vinci Series guitar
"Homage to Abel Carlevaro"
The idea of violin style "F" holes
is not new in guitar building. Archtop guitars have had this feature for
decades now but in the classical guitar realm, this is definitely not the
case. Adding the "F holes" to my other incorporations like the armrest,
the radiused fingerboard, the violin tie and the special cutaway, you definitely
have a world first. As of today, all Bellucci guitars that present innovations
of any sort that get the classical guitar one step closer to perfection
will belong to this new Series.
The instrument is an eye candy and its
voice is simply stunning. The sound is projected from different parts of
her body resulting in an amazingly varied array of sounds that combine
majestically in the creation of music. Read more about this amazing "Da
Vinci Series guitar" here.
Friday evening was at my dear friend
Hugo's home where he invited a Paraguayan folk music duet to crown the
wonderful evening. We heard a vast selection of Paraguayan classics and
fantastic arrangements of music from all over America and Europe. Cristobal
passed his guitar to me asking me to play Barrios' "una limosna"....
as a token of appreciation, he came with the harp right next to me and
homaged me with a beautiful harp solo. I play almost exclusively
private recitals for selected groups of friends and fans. A night to remember.
April 14, 2011: Two great
surprises were in store for me on this 14th of April. One was the arrival
of a book (The best book I have ever had) that my friend Ray mailed
10 days ago from the US: "Leonardo da Vinci, The complete paintings
and drawings" (image below) It is GIGANTIC on all fronts !. It was
one of Ray's most treasured possessions and he wanted to send it to me
as a token of appreciation for the amazing Tiger Guitar he purchased
from me that in his words "is the type of guitar Leonardo da Vinci would
have built" (see April 8). The book is amazing. The presentation and
the quality of the writing and of the images is stunning. The book weights
at 7 kg (approx. 14 pounds). It is huge and it is one of the most precious
gifts I have ever received. Thank you Ray if you are reading this. At 700
XXL size pages, I have enough material to keep me busy for the rest of
my life... Da Vinci is so much more than "Monalisa" or the shady
character that "The Da Vinci code" made so popular. I can see a
man striving at perfection in all his endeavors. His constant effort at
perfecting his work and an immense curiosity are the only things I feel
I share with the great Italian Italian master. I feel it when I embrace
my guitar and polish a musical phrase. I feel it when I try t implement
some new concept that may improve the sound and looks of my concert guitars...
da Vinci, The complete paintings and drawings
The other extremely
pleasant surprise was the mail by my friend and colleague Tim.
He writes : "Hi Renato: I have been paying Guadalupe
at least an hour a day and the guitar is SUPER LOUD now and the sustain
is UNREAL! This guitar makes my old Ramirez 1A sound like student
instrument. Congratulations on creating a true masterpiece!"
Bellucci "Guadalupe" guitar
Tim Mackey, Recording Artist, Performer,
Instructor Guitar, Mandolin, Violin & Banjo, OR, USA.
Tim has a fabulous home studio and
possesses a one in a million guitar collection. In the picture below you
can see Tim's studio and the guitar collection...
Tim Mackey studio with his amazing
April 9 & 10:
As soon as
our younger children are out of school on Friday, we pack our stuff and
head for San Bernardino, a small town overlooking Ypacarai lake some 35
miles East of Asuncion. '
Google map Satellite view of our
We have a beautiful
mediterranean style home there that we built on one of the hills overlooking
the lake. We go there every single weekend. In the 5 years since we've
built the house, we've only missed our weekly appointment with San Bernardino
on counted occasions. Two of my children, Franco and Alessandro, attended
the birthday of one of their classmates and my wife Belén and I
had Dinner at my friend's Hugo home. Hugo is the head of one of Paraguay's
largest legal buffets and we get together on a weekly basis to have dinner,
play music and have long friendly chats. Hugo had pork prepared in the
German style. To say that the dish was delicious is an understatement.
A wonderful white wine accompanied our supreme dish... We stretched
it well into the early morning hours and then took off knowing that we'd
be going to Sanber (short for San Bernardino) the following morning.
perfect... Paraguayan Autumn resembles the Northern Hemisphere's Spring
and Belén and I spend most of the time under the trees in the back
garden sipping tereré (a typical Paraguayan drink made with ice
cold water and Yerba mate, a tea like substance, that is sipped through
a filtered type of metal straw. (Image below)....
My wife Belén enjoying
the view of the lake
I took the
picture below to immortalize the perfect weather we had this weekend. The
Asunción skyline was clearly visible. In the picture it's
covered by the thick canopy of trees to the right. I played Barrios most
of the morning. Later watched some Italian soccer on TV where Napoli
is close to winning an historical championship and was eagerly waiting
for the final round at Augusta where Tiger Woods almost snapped an amazing
victory at one of the tournament most thrilling final rounds ever with
over 5 players tied at the top at -10 ... I am certain that the great golf
champion is finally back ...
Our Home on the Sanber Hillside.
Picture taken: April 10, 2011
April 8, 2011:
out just as any other day. Little did I know that quite a few pleasant
surprises were awaiting for me at the guitar studio. My son Renato had
already begun taking the pictures of our last creation. Had it not been
for one particular shot that needed to be lit from a very specific and
quite tricky angle, I would have probably not participated in the guitar
photo shoot at all.
TJ (my son Renato's
nick) has steadily become a more proficient photographer and I am
tremendously proud of both his studio and post production work at the computer
where each image must be perfectly selected to deliver the best possible
impression of the guitar. This babe will most likely be purchased by a
player thousands of miles away... The second, very
pleasant surprise, came immediately after. As I tuned her up to make the
demo video, I knew in a heartbeat that I was embracing a top notch masterpiece
guitar. The sound on the third string caught my attention from the get
go. This string is generally very quiet on classical guitars. I am often
left wondering why it is that some instruments have an edge over the rest
when everything about the construction is identical to the work done on
preceding instruments. The first answers that come to mind are:
net of wood fibers differ from one set of wood to another. This makes sense
at least partially. Brazilian Rosewood especially, presents itself in so
many different forms. I can say with certainty that it is the most varied
species on Earth. Then my imagination starts wondering around more spectacular,
yet not very scientifical reasons. For instance, some people say
that cutting a tree during a specific phase of the Moon changes its overall
tonal qualities... the problem with this theory is that I associate the
phases of the Moon with Werewolves, Vampires and not guitars. In any case,
I want to keep an open mind and I am sure that the real factors will never
great surprise was the phone chat I had with my good friend from the US
Ray. He is happy beyond words regarding his recent purchase of a Bellucci
guitar... Ray has this amazing gift in his manners of speech to elevate
your soul and make a great day into an even better one. I shivered from
head to tows when he said that "if Leonardo da Vinci had built guitars,
they would very much resemble my guitars". It is not precisely the
type of compliment you receive on a daily basis... therefore, it is easily
understandable that Ray made the rest of my month with that comment.
Ray has owned 302 guitars in life and, coming from him, the comment meant
everything ! We discussed the next project which will most likely be 7
strings guitar with some construction innovations that I will be presenting
in future blogs.
A little bit of my guitar history
my 42 years as a guitarist, I've had the chance of studying and meeting
some of the best known guitarist of all times. The guitar pictures that
follow, immortalized some of my life's greatest moments. This page is not
be just a display of classical guitar related pictures but a place
where I share some historical moments in my life as a classical guitar
student, performer and teacher; moments that many of the visitors to mangore.com
can relate to.
career started when I was 8 in Taranto , Italy. Today, 15,000
Kilometers to the South in Asuncion, Paraguay, I am celebrating my 42nd
anniversary as a musician. Paraguay, a beautiful country I have first
visited in 1974 when my parents came to visit an uncle that lived in Brazil.
Paraguay had a deep impact in all the members of my family and although
we never thought we would live here forever, 36 years have passed and it
sure does not look like I am going anywhere. My parents have gone back
to Italy in 2006. I decided to stay here and as long as my guitar teaching
website and guitar manufacture workshop permits, I intend to stay for good.
Still, I am old enough to have learned that "for good" is one of those
clichés that often miss the target.
I must stress
one TRUTH...Segovia was the greatest guitar figure that ever lived. Mostly
because he had to pave a way for an instrument, the guitar, which was mostly
unknown to the great public at the beginning of the 20th Century. Segovia
´´pushed´´ many young players careers who attended
his famous Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and Italian (Siena) masterclasses.
And, sadly, literally pushed many players careers to an abrupt end. Few
musicians, not to say none before or since, had such a profound impact
on their instruments as Segovia did in the classical guitar world.
picture can say a thousand words, those moments with the great maestros
have changed my life forever. In the guitar picture taken in Segovia's
studio in Madrid during a private lesson (image below), I was playing one
of Bach Bourree in B minor.
Renato Bellucci with Andres Segovia.
My hands were
cold and moist. The maestro took his chance to give me a little advice..."before
you start playing, try doing what I do before playing in concert. If your
hands are cold, take your time to warm them....I once asked for a thermos
with hot water before playing in a New York winter concert and warmed my
hands with it for almost 10 minutes...the public had to wait ten minutes
more for a much better performance..." As people grows older, they
also grow philosophical. It is difficult to put into words all the feelings,
sensations and impressions that such a colossal moment means in a young
guitarist's life. I was 22.... fresh out of Conservatory with my first
major guitar competition won and a whole life in front of me. In 1983 Segovia
was to me the most important figure on the face of the Earth.
getting out of the elevator with my guitar case to then walk the last few
steps to access the attic of this mid size and few stories building where
Segovia had his Madrid apartment on one floor and his studio right under
the roof. I heard the locks to this huge metal door open (more like a safe
box door actually) as my heartbeat started accelerating with anticipation.
Finally the door started opening and the figure of the greatest (and oldest)
guitarist alive started appearing before my eyes. The master made a gesture
as he was saying "Adelante Renato" to make me welcome.
I did not know
whether to make a reverie, kiss the hand or simply shake hands as I ultimately
did. I wanted to pinch myself at every step I took towards the heart
of the studio. "So, this is what a Studio looks like?" was one
of the thousand thoughts crossing my mind...several guitar cases were visible
on the right wall and Segovia's practice setup took a good portion
of the room.
he used to practice seemed to be big...a big music stand, a big cushioned
footstool and, of course, a huge piano type chair. Everything was
made of wood and seemed to be part of a set. A portrait was hanging over
his head and another huge portrait was hanging by the main door. Segovia
was the subject of both portraits of course ! Several pictures were scattered
here and there and he was photographed with several people... music sheets
were simply all over....
Segovia practicing in his Madrid
The picture above was published in
National Geographic magazine in 1980. The studio looks exactly like this.
Only 2 things are different: 1- The photographer put a small blanket on
the window to avoid the light from spoiling the picture 2-Segovia always
practiced in his bathrobe and the sleek outfit is only for obvious photographic
reasons. If you look at my picture with the maestro (above) you will see
him in his " regular" outfit.
The place where my picture with
the maestro was taken is just to the left of the guitar cases on the floor
in the lower left of the picture. A small TV is there along with an intimate
was all the observing I could do because a few seconds later, after he
closed the huge door to the studio, he approached me again inviting me
to sit down. He asked me a few questions about my background and studies
and I am not sure of what I told him...all I recall is what he told me.
The one thing I knew I wanted to tell him was that I had been listening
to a Bach Bourree and Double he recorded in the early 60s and I simply
loved it. I did...as a reply he asked me :"Do you play it?"...I said "yes"
and he replied :"Play it for me"....
speechless and I sincerely did not know if I was going to be able to move
a single finger. I was about to play for the master...my childhood Idol
! I took a deep breath and started playing...The atmosphere
was magic and I never thought the human brain could deal with so many things
simultaneously....the hands moving around the guitar, my imagination running
at 1000 miles an hour, the overwhelming feeling of achievement and of course,
keeping me alive...
the last chord of the Bourree and after a few seconds of silence Segovia
extended his right hand and shook mine in a good job kind of way....He
was certainly not the kind of master to be impressed very easily and neither
was it my objective. He proceeded to explain some of the passages in the
Bourree and how he went about transcribing pieces. He made a point saying
that he would transcribe only if the piece was going to shine as bright
or brighter than on the original instrument. Everything he explained was
accompanied by very wide gestures of his arm and hands.
next thing he did was to look closely at my guitar. I took a Contreras
double top for Segovia to look at and give me his opinion on the double
top Contreras was developing at the time. Segovia looked at the guitars
from all possible angles and I was marveled at the way he handled the instrument...after
all Segovia and guitars had been having a 90 years affair !! He gave it
back to me and told me to pass him one of the guitar cases that were on
the right wall of the studio. He liked the poetic sound and admired
Contreras vision of the double top.
The first great
maestro I had the chance of studying with when I was living in Spain was
Renato Bellucci With Narciso Yepes
in Las Rosas, Spain
A small man
but a great human being. I had to travel 50 kilometers to his Las
Rosas home. He was an innovator. To start out with, he had a 10 strings
Ramirez guitar built on request. In the picture I'm playing Barrios' "Una
limosna por el amor de Dios"... he had never heard the piece. Immediately
after I finished playing it, he said "your tremolo is very smooth and
"christaline", I seldom like a piece the first time I hear it....let me
see if I have the music sheet in my collection...I'd like to play that
piece in Italy next month...." These words, coming from the one man
who renders tremolo at its best were definitely a boost to my young ego.
Yepes in concert: Asuncion
Ms. Pastrone, one of the best cooks
in the world, prepared a special cake with the
shape of a 10 strings guitar to
be offered to Maestro Narciso Yepes upon his arrival to Asuncion.
The one maestro
that influenced me the most is undoubtedly Abel Carlevaro.
Renato With Carlevaro in Montevideo
Later in these
pages, I will elaborate more on the word "influence".
I always say
that Carlevaro would
have been a great interpreter no matter what instrument he had chosen.
He thought me to think for myself and, being his technique the result of
years of inner searching, he would not deprive me the same "pleasure"...
He told me during one of our lessons "Don't do anything I tell you to
do unless your brain agrees"... After only 6 months with the maestro,
I ordered the famous "Manuel Contreras- Carlevaro Model guitar". I only
gave her up when I started building my own concert guitars.
pictures were taken during the famous Segovia Masterclasses at USC in the
summer of 1986.
Andres Segovia with Renato at USC.
to be there. Christopher Parkening was blending and sharing moments and
signing autographs with a truly bright and honest Jn 3:16 beneath
his signature with every young player with the greatness and simplicity
that has always characterized him, Michael Lorimer, Marcelo Kayath. At
the USC masterclasses with Segovia, I remember Marcelo Kayath listening
to Yamashita perform Pictures at an exhibition in his Walkman. Suddenly,
he would remove the earphones and tell me and the other guitarists (Lily
Afshar, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, Mary Akerman) in the dorms common
area : "Unbelievable !! He's (Yamashita) playing tremolo using the little
finger alone !" Coming from the most impressive player of the 80s, the
comment was definitely worth looking into. Remember that Yamashita had
just ripped the guitar world in Toronto with his TERRIFIC interpretation
of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an exhibition and Kayath had just won the Toronto
and Radio France guitar competition in the same year... a feat believed
to be impossible to attain...
be the last time I saw the great Spaniard... he died 6 months later due
to pneumonia. His last words to me were "...so, Renato,
always in love with the guitar?" ... and I exchanged a glimpse
with the maestro as he was getting in the car.
advice for my students and friends is to have, live and die for a dream.
Simply make sure it is the "right" dream. Great maestros are looking for
great strive on their students' part. No great teacher is far enough for
a real pupil.
Carlevaro, who recently died in Germany during a concert-masterclass tour,
was an innovator in many ways. In this picture taken by his wife in his
Montevideo apartment, he was telling me he would take me as his student.
I was living in Spain at the time, and moved to Montevideo where I studied
under him for a year. Read more about Carlevaro, clicking on the links
to the left.
Above is Manuel Contreras with me in
his guitar shop-studio 1986. To the right it is me in 1969. My first
public performance. Di Cagno Abbrescia School (my elementary school) in
Bari, Italy. Just a few weeks before I watched as Neil Armstrong
set foot on the moon.
Two weeks after the Di Cagno Abbrescia
recital, I played at Teatro Piccinni in Bari. The way I felt
that first time on stage is exactly the same way I feel today... 34 years
after. The picture below is a view of Teatro Piccinni from the main stage.
Bari Italy. I made my debut here at age 9
Playing on Cristoforo Colombo
This recital was a turning point in
my life. It was a short 3 pieces recital on board the transatlantic
Colombo. I was asked to play to celebrate. The ship was passing through
the Equator that evening. A Flamenco player that was staying 2 rooms from
mine, heard me practice in the mornings and told the events organizer
in white) about my skill.... I realized for the first
time the awesome power that a musical instrument has over our fellow human
beings. The wood box with its 6 strings and my interpretation as a 9 years
old boy, kept 300 people of all ages in absolute silence and hypnotized.
The girl I was Platonically in love with finally had her eyes for me only...
I knew then that the guitar was to be a part of me. 1 hour daily practice
was nothing in exchange !
in Buenos Aires Teatro San Martin, I am playing Bach Chaconne.
Alirio Diaz home in Rome
Abel Carlevaro & Renato in Asuncion
Agustin Barrios Competition/festival
Akron Civic. Fisk made people
go wild. Russell was simply too tired.
TV program for RAI
The picture on the left was the first
professional picture I had taken by one of Spain greatest photographers
Gyenes, in 1984, the one on the right was taken by my wife (the greatest
photographer ever...) in 2001
Renato and David Russell at the
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