M A G A Z I N E INTERVIEW
The history of Friederich guitars The Cabinetmakers of Faubourg Saint-Antoine N° 2 - Autumn 2013 French Edition
o Founder and Director: Alberto Martinez Art Director: HervĂŠ Ollitraut-Bernard Editor: Christian Descombes Editorial Assistant: ClĂŠmentine Jouffroy Translator: Meegan Davis Website: orfeomagazine.fr Contact: email@example.com
orfeo From the Editor
M A G A Z I N E In the interests of safeguarding their artistic and cultural traditions, the Japanese bestow the title of “Living National Treasure” on certain persons. This particularly honorary and non-transferrable title is reserved for artists who are officially recognised as stewards of intangible cultural properties. While this title, currently held by fewer than 100 individuals, would at first glance appear to confer status as a living work of art upon the artist, it is in fact the technique and the craftsmanship that is being honoured. There are sixtyfive art and craft techniques that have come to be recognised, including ceramics, weaving, katagami stencilling, dyeing, lacquer, metal, wood, bamboo and paper. I am always reminded of this when I step out of Daniel Friederich’s workshop… As you have no doubt guessed, this second edition of Orfeo is entirely dedicated to the greatest of our French luthiers. And there is also a free downloadable supplement containing the speech, in its entirety, given by Daniel Friederich at the French Society of Acoustics Congress (Paris, 1998). A real gem! Enjoy. Alberto Martinez
“My best guitar?” he said one day, looking bemused at my question. “It’ll be the next one I make!”
Excellence Interview with Daniel Friederich,
Franceâ€™s living legend of lutherie.
Crafting the best possible instrument
Daniel Friederich is an exceptional luthier. After having trained in fine cabinetry, he switched to making instruments, receiving advice and encouragement from Robert Bouchet. Fascinated with the science of the guitar, he conducted a great deal of research with acousticians, notably with the Musical Acoustics Laboratory at the Paris VI University. That period, from the 1960s through to the nineties, was the most creative in his career. In the years that ensued, he worked on perfecting his guitars â€“ like a jeweller polishing a diamond â€“ out of his desire to create the best possible instrument. He sought to improve the colours, the harmonics, the precision, the balance: - no easy feat when using a medium
Some of his woodworking tools have been handed down through the family and are branded with the family name. Above, various strips of wood to be used in the rosette.
Gluing the binding around the edge of the soundboard using a veneer hammer.
Using a home-made machine, he prepares the strips of wood to be inlaid in the rosette.
that can vary so much. Time is taken to measure, weigh, establish precise thicknesses, feel the woods, touch them, design the bracing pattern that will bring out the best in each soundboard, reinforce the back, laminate the ribs, select the wood for the neck; with so many variables, it is far from an exact science, despite all the measurements and the years of research that have taken much of the guesswork out of guitar-making and made it possible to reproduce the desired characteristics of his previous guitars. He keeps a workshop logbook where he notes down all this information (wood, weight, flexi-
More colours, improved harmonics, greater precision, better balance
“The ebony of the fingerboard is the guitar’s necktie, its elegance.”
Each and every guitar is described in detail and assessed in the workshopâ€™s logbook bility, bracing pattern, thicknesses, etc.). This logbook is his â€œdatabaseâ€?, to which he constantly refers when building his instruments. Every single guitar is described in detail in the logbook, every single guitar is critiqued and assessed in accordance with his own criteria (cf. Article 14 Criteria), and every single guitar helps him learn something new. His guitars have never ceased to evolve. Though he has not made any ground-breaking modifications since the 1980s, he has nevertheless continued, even to this day, to make
Sealing the woodâ€™s pores with pumice, followed by French polishing. Above: branding on the heel, on the inside of the guitar.
This corner of the workshop is his point of reference for assessing the sound of the guitars. In this spot he knows how the acoustics behave, and it is here that all of his guitars are played for the very first time. Above, Daniel Friederich notes his impressions in the workshop logbook.
Every guitar teaches him something new minor changes, little adjustments and corrections in the struts or thicknesses on the back or top of the guitar. Today, this prodigious body of knowledge is poured into the guitars that he creates. Like an alchemist, he combines the characteristics of the available woods with the appropriate type of bracing and myriad other parameters that go into making a guitar; what guides these choices is keen observation of historyâ€™s master guitar-makers, outstanding skill in woodwork, a wealth of experience and an uncanny intuition. Alberto Martinez
Criteria Illustrated in his
1960s catalogue, Daniel Friederich’s 14 criteria for appraising the sonority of a guitar are as follows: 1. Power (from up close, from a distance), carrying distance. 2. Sustain. 3. Uniformity of sound level and timbre. 4. Timbre (the quality and texture of the guitar’s voice, its colour). 5. Balance between bass and treble. 6. Whether the instrument is easy or difficult to play. 7. Evenness of the sound quality. 8. Degree of responsiveness and sensitivity. 9. Attack of the sound (audible or slight). 10. Contrast (more like a “harpsichord” or more like a “piano”) and dynamic range. 11. Sympathetic resonances (noticeable or not). 12. Clarity or opacity of the sound, its definition. 13. Presence of a fret buzz. 14. Intonation.
â€œThe guitar is an orchestra
H ECTOR B ERLIOZ
The History of my guitars by Daniel Friederich “To give a guitar a beautiful voice, a beautiful sound, that’s a lifetime’s work.”
Over the next few pages you will find notes on the history of his guitar-making, written by Daniel Friederich himself, along with the occasional explanation, quotation or comment taken from our interviews.
1948 - I bought my first ever guitar (Busato,
steel-string) and began studying music.
1955 - I built my first classical guitar (imita-
tion Simplicio), with input from my guitar teacher, Christian Aubin.
1956 - I made several guitars, as well as my
1959 - I showed my fifteenth guitar to Robert
Bouchet, who very kindly gave me advice and encouragement. Ed. - “Bouchet was surprised to meet someone with an interest in making beautiful guitars. We compared notes. I was always there if he ever needed anything… Right up until his last year, in 1986, I would plane down the wood – Spanish cedar – for his guitar necks, and afterwards he would do the
“I’ve always made the head this way, with the lance and head slot edging varnished but the rest in matte, a little bit Louis XIV in style.”
“Robert Bouchet was visiting and he was trying out a cuatro that I had just finished.” Photo José Pons, December 1981.
“ The Arpège and the Récital were models that enabled me to experiment with different bracing systems and guitar-building details.” finishing. I also varnished a few guitars for him that were in need of a facelift… To achieve the different thicknesses required for the soundboard, he had only a very small calliper. He would hold the soundboard up to the light and go by its translucence. That was where you could truly see his incredible skill, how very sharp his eye was; it really was something else!” I started my own business at 21 rue Ramponneau, in Paris’ twentieth district. I created a personal guitar model. I made my first mould and tools. Production commenced with three models of classical guitars and one flamenco model: – The model Concert: numbered as of N° 100; personal bracing; sculpted heads; more intricate mosaics in the rosettes; finer purfling; exquisite woods and great attention to detail. This was to become my sole model as of 1970. Ed. - “Initially, I didn’t number my guitars. But as of 1962 or 1963, I started to take it a bit more seriously and, given the guitars that had already been made and just to keep
things simple, I started the numbers at N° 100. There were some guitars with lower numbers, but there was no regularity to the numbering; it was all a bit whimsical. Back then, I had a silversmith who would make the machine heads exclusively for me; everything was done by hand.” – The models Récital and Arpège: not numbered; heads left undecorated; basic decorative marquetry; Torres-style or experimental bracing. Solid woods. Built between 1959 and 1970. Arpège was the cheaper model, with no decoration on the bridge and less purfling; apart from these aspects, it was the same as the Récital. Ed. - “These two cheaper models enabled me to try out various bracing patterns and guitar-building details. Over a period of ten years, it was with these guitars that I was able to experiment. I didn’t take any risks with the Concert model.”
1962 - Alexandre
Lagoya introduced me to Professor Émile Leipp, head of the Musical Acoustics Laboratory in Paris, who gave me tips,
When it is time to glue the binding to the edges of the soundboard and back, the guitar is tied up, Spanish style..
Photographic montage showing both faces of the NÂ° 318 experimental guitar.
“In 1972 I built an experimental guitar, N° 318, with two different backs.”
taught me about acoustics and invited me to the GAM (Groupe d’Acoustique Musicale) meetings and physics lectures.
1966 - I shifted premises to rue du Sergent-
Bauchat, near the woodworking quarter, where both of my cabinetmaker grandfathers worked.
1967 - In Belgium, I was awarded a gold me-
dal in the Liège international lutherie competition for my craftsmanship and a silver medal for the sound quality. Ed. - Robert Bouchet, Joaquín Rodrigo and Alirio Díaz were among the judges on the panel, chaired by Ignacio Fleta. The gold medal for sound quality went to Masaru Kohno. Ed. - “I was often in touch with the Fletas. They sometimes had difficulty obtaining wood, varnish, etc., and I would send it to them. They were short on many things in Spain but everything was available here.”
1970 - Minor modifications to size and the
construction of a new mould: a slightly more generous waist (the width of which expanded from
239 mm to 241 mm), straighter shoulders, more subtle arching of the soundboard and the back. For guitar N° 279, I used, for the first time, laminated ribs consisting of two layers glued in a mould (the innermost layer being of mahogany or light rosewood). A lot of work, but the result was worth it; the sound was less dense and had more character. I immediately decided to keep making the ribs that way. Ed. - These days he pairs the rosewood of the ribs with an inner layer of sapelli (a wood similar to mahogany).
1972 - Construction of an experimental gui-
tar (N° 318) with two different backs: one was a triple-laminate back with no bars at all; the other was made of two layers (solid rosewood and mahogany) with three bars. I conducted experiments, blocking the soundhole, drilling an opening in the back, planing off a layer from the heavier back, lowering the rib height so as to reduce the volume of air… The variations in all of these parameters taught me much about the behaviour of the guitar’s back, strutting, soundhole, the thicknesses of the wood and the importance of air volume.
“Guitar N° 437 was a “meantone” guitar. Its movable frets meant that I could achieve the exact frequencies for all notes.” With each of these changes, the guitar felt and sounded different.
1974 - With the creation of N° 378, commis-
sioned by Turibio Santos, I started using “Western red cedar” regularly for the soundboards. Canadian red cedar gives a warmer sound, a very “guitarish” sound. Orders rolled in, and it became a very successful constant in my work.
1975 - Development
of asymmetrical bracing, with the elimination of the strut nearest the top string. This became my habitual bracing system for a long time to come. Ed. - “For a long time I used symmetrical bracing; it was a triangle that supported the archtop, but after the work that I did at the acoustics laboratory, in 1975, I moved away from a symmetrical approach and I think that it’s an improvement. Looking at the holograms, it’s clear that when two neighbouring segments of the soundboard resonate, the vibrations may synchronise initially, joining forces to produce a strong sound, but then cancel each other out and
come to a very sudden stop! The problem can be solved by using bracing that is not quite symmetrical.”
1977 - Construction
of guitar N° 437, a
Ed. - The meantone temperament came about to satisfy the desire of sixteenth century and Baroque composers to use a scale offering a maximum of perfect major thirds (even though four of the 12 possible keys are unusable). This was the inspiration behind a guitar with movable frets. I started nudging the seven struts of the fan bracing into a “crossbow” shape (N° 449); this was inspired by Ignacio Fleta’s work. On the bass side, I extended the fan pattern right up to the edge of the body. I liked the overall result better; I adopted it without actually being truly able to justify it: this asymmetrical bracing sounded great! Ed. - Daniel Friederich and Émile Leipp co-authored the study entitled “La guitare:
The â€œmeantoneâ€? guitar displays considerable harmonic richness, but it turned out to be a very difficult instrument to play.
“Today, there is greater sustain, greater richness, some very worthwhile things indeed.”
historique et fonctionnement” (The Guitar: History and Mechanics) in the bulletin of the GAM, published by the Musical Acoustics Laboratory of the Paris VI University.
1980 - I added a small cross-strut between
the rosette and the bridge so as to reduce stress on the wood, limit the lows and achieve a longer sound (N° 501).
1981 - I created a symmetrical bracing sys-
tem with two struts under the rosette (N° 540), to achieve a more biting, clearer attack. I used this bracing for guitarists whose attack was a bit dull, thick, heavy, with hefty rest-stroke playing (see photo, right). Ed. - “In 1982 I made a guitar with a carbon fibre soundboard. The sound was somewhat dry, not so pleasing… All of the carbon guitars that I’d heard were a bit boring. It was flat, all of the sounds were identical, no surprise in it at all. If something is too predictable, too uniform,
it’s just tedious! Guitars need to have their own natural voice, colours! A beautiful sound!” Ed.. - As of guitar N° 610, I modified my usual bracing, adding a slim plaque between the bridge and the lower end of the body, designed to reinforce the wood of a crosswise-flexible soundboard. Ed.. - There were no other major innovations in the ensuing years, but he has continued to work tirelessly at perfecting his guitars to this very day. “My current guitars are harder to play, but guitarists have a much better technique nowadays and they can master instruments that would have been considered too tiring for the hands way back when Segovia was young. Today, there is greater sustain, greater richness, some very worthwhile things indeed…” Daniel Friederich
“My bracing systems would be well-nigh impossible to copy. There is so much work involved: it’s lutherie at its most exacting, from start to finish.”
Between 2010 and 2011, we were privileged enough to witness the creation of one of his guitars: guitar NÂ° 830, made for Argentinian guitarist Roberto Aussel. What follows are the comments of each of them: the luthier and the musician.
Soundboard in â€œWestern red cedarâ€?, back and sides of Indian rosewood, ebony neck, machine heads by Rodgers.
What Daniel Friederich has to say
The soundboard I used for the 830 has a standard degree of flexibility lengthwise but is very stiff width-wise. This offers greater sustain; with a floppy soundboard, with a lot of flex, the vibrations quickly peter out, there is too much friction inside. With a stiffer soundboard or one that has stronger bracing, energy loss is reduced. It’s less explosive, but you get much longer sounds. I focus a lot on flexibility. When preparing a soundboard, I first measure the longitudinal flex and then, once the two pieces are set together and glued, I secure the soundboard to a very rigid chassis and I place a 7.5 kg weight on a false bridge. I then measure the combined flex (lengthwise and crossgrain). They are comparative measures, very useful. Next, for this guitar in particular, I added quite a light back so as to boost the bass notes, so that they wouldn’t be too dry. I think that I found a nice balance. There’s no magic formula. I take measurements, I weigh the selected woods and then I ponder the way in which all of this is to be combined, and it’s all the easier if I am familiar with the playing style of the guitar’s future owner. Having a softer back also means less pressure
on the end of the neck, which makes the guitar more comfortable to play. If the whole thing is stiff, the guitar is going to be difficult to play. The back doesn’t vibrate a lot, but it does nevertheless vibrate a little. Each time a string vibrates, energy is transferred to the neck, thus pulling on the heel block that is inside the guitar’s body. The back flattens a little and this produces the bass note frequencies. The neck is made of mahogany from Tabasco, which goes well with a rigid soundboard, often better than other woods. What I noted in my logbook: Excellent. Perfect definition, long sound, homogeneous, subtle, good contrast, generous. Responsive, immediately discernible harmonics and noble sound: all class! When I write something like that… it means that I am pleased! When Roberto came to try it out, the guitar won him over in just a few seconds. Roberto’s playing is very clean-cut. The sounds that he makes are among the most beautiful that I know of. I don’t like a glitzy sound, when there’s too much nail. With Roberto, there’s such balance. Moreover, he has this way of varying the sound…”
The elegant dimensions of his guitars has remained unchanged since 1970. Left: the chassis for gauging the combined flex in his soundboards.
The exquisitely crafted “ear of wheat” design found in his rosettes is one of his jealously guarded secrets.
What Roberto Aussel has to say
Orfeo - How many Daniel Friederich guitars have you owned? R. A. - This is my seventh; I bought my first one in 1978. Some had spruce soundboards and others were cedar. In my experience, spruce gives a clearer sound, distinct tones, and lends itself naturally to Baroque music, for example. Cedar is more sensual and I think that it’s better suited to playing Brouwer, Barrios or Spanish repertoire… Orfeo - What do you think is so special about his guitars? R. A. - Above all, superb equilibrium. All of the voices are well balanced; everything sounds precisely as it should. I often liken them to Steinway pianos: each and every note has body to it and underlying each note is a layer of sound. Another thing that I particularly like about Daniel’s guitars, quite apart from their beautiful sound, is that the guitar forms a single physical entity, a whole unto itself. There are some guitars that have a pleasant enough sound but, when you play them, the neck seems completely separate from the body. The neck of a Friederich guitar is an extension of the body; similarly, when I play, my instrument becomes one with me. Each part of Daniel’s guitars – the soundboard, the neck, the frets, the bridge, the ribs, even the machine heads – make up one harmonious whole; everything is connected.
That’s what is truly remarkable about them. Orfeo - Daniel Friederich says that his guitars are harder to play these days, but that they offer more colours, greater length of sound. Do you agree? R. A. - On the one hand, they seem more playable to me: the necks are thinner, the fretboard is radiused. On the other hand, only a player with a very good technique will be able to draw upon all the richness that they offer. You can produce an endless variety of sounds: sweet, harsh, metallic, using your nails, using the fingertip; it’s like venturing into a forest of infinite nuances. But you have to know how to coax those sounds out of the instrument. A Friederich guitar is like a Ferrari; you have to know how to drive it! Orfeo - What do you think of the 830? R. A. - It’s a rainbow! And over and above the colours, this guitar has fabulous sustain, especially in the mid-notes. It’s no louder than my previous guitars, but it does have greater sustain. The third string, always difficult to get exactly right, is incredible. I use Augustine Blue strings for the lows and Augustine Regal for the three others. I still go for nylon strings; everything seems a bit colder to me with carbon strings, there’s very little vibrato…
The Cabinetmakers of Faubourg Saint-Antoine The Faubourg Saint-Antoine district in Paris has, for centuries, been the home of fine furniture, master cabinetmakersâ€Ś and the Friederich family.
Family history: iron-branded tools, a photo of grandfather Mathias, the old burnt-out workshop faĂ§ade of Friederich & Veuve Sicardâ€Ś
I am quite certain, dear friends, that any cabinetmaker worth his salt will always be delighted, even feel a sensual pleasure, at seeing a wooden ringlet, perfectly regular, curl out of his jointer plane’s mouth… JEAN DIWO Les Dames du Faubourg III - Le génie de la Bastille
In Paris, the Faubourg Saint-Antoine district gets its name and its renown from the Saint-Antoine-des-Champs Abbey, founded in the thirteenth century, and located where the Saint-Antoine hospital now stands. The name Saint-Antoine-des-Champs (St Anthony in the Fields) hints that this church was situated outside the city walls, and this is corroborated by the
word “Faubourg” – combining “faux” (false), and “bourg” (town), the meaning of which is similar to “suburb” in English – which refers to the district surrounding the Abbey. A glance at any map of Paris shows that Rue SaintAntoine, like so many other Parisian streets, changes name at the city’s former boundary, to become Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine.
Most of the work undertaken in the Faubourg SaintAntoine workshops could only be done by hand.. Photo Bottali et fils
The “faubourgs”, too, were also outside the city limits. Royal privilege Despite its location outside the city walls, separated from Paris by the sprawling Bastille and boundary ditches, the Faubourg Saint-Antoine district actively contributed to the capital’s economic life through the Abbey, a rich convent for
women that became a royal abbey in 1299. At the time, professions were divided into strictly demarcated guilds, each with its own laws to which all individual tradespersons were bound. In February 1657, King Louis XIV lifted the Parisian guilds’ yoke from the artisans working in Faubourg Saint-Antoine, giving freer rein to their creativity. And more importantly, Protestant
We are in 1910, and electricity is used solely for lighting. Workshop machinery is powered by steam. Photo Bottali et fils
At the top right, the power transmission system can be seen. The large frame in the background supported the jigsaw blade, making colossal cutting projects possible. Photo Bottali et fils
Cylinder desk commissioned by Louis XV for his office in Versailles. Commenced in 1760 by Jean-François Œben and completed in 1769 by Jean-Henri Riesener.
It was from the seventeenth century onwards that fine cabinetmaking became the speciality of Faubourg Saint-Antoine tradespeople were no longer forced to renounce their faith. The clause stipulating requisite Catholicism for work in the skilled trades had become commonplace, even before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. As of the seventeenth century, furniture-making underwent a boom and became the speciality of Faubourg Saint-Antoine. The success of the cabinetmakers in this district was consolidated in the eighteenth century. Oak was no longer the only wood used; exotic timbers made their appearance as of the very late seventeenth century. Luxury craftsmanship Gradually joiners, cabinet-makers, inlayers, upholsterers, varnishers, foundry workers and
gilders all found their way into Faubourg SaintAntoine. Desks and chests of drawers became symbols of their highly skilled craftsmanship. Their creations were embellished with inlaid copper, tortoise shell and mother of pearl, floral motif marquetry and exotic wood veneer-work. Following the example of Charles Boulle (16421732), precursor in the use of gilt-bronze in furniture-making and “the most gifted in the profession”, other emblematic artisans appeared, such as: Jean-François Œben (1721-1763), renowned for his extremely refined marquetry and mechanical furniture; Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806), a specialist in ormolu, who would finish the famous “Bureau du Roi” for Louis XV, which had been commenced by Œben;
The machinists and cabinetmakers were experts in their field. Rough-sawn planks would be transformed into beautiful furniture â€Ś as if by magic. Photo Bottali et fils
Delivery service: handcarts. Photo Bottali et fils
To this day the Faubourg artisans are keeping the tradition alive and Martin Carlin (1730-1785), Jean-François Œben’s brother-in-law, who specialised in elite luxury furnishings. A world in turmoil But the proximity between the specialised artisans (more than two hundred workshops were listed as of the end of the eighteenth century) and an unashamedly opulent aristocracy inevitably created some friction, highlighting the gaping divide between the social classes. The Saint-Antoine quarter thus had more than its fair share of rioters, and with each popular uprising more insurgents hailed from Faubourg Saint-Antoine than from any other district. It is therefore not surprising that the first public building that Left, restoring the upholstery of antique furniture. Above, two young cabinetmakers in the Degroote workshop. Below, the Laverdure shop, established 1905, supplying varnishes to cabinetmakers and luthiers, which has been run by the same family for four generations.
the people stormed on 14 July, 1789, was the Bastille, which stands between Faubourg SaintAntoine and Paris. The same was true in 1830, 1848 and during the Commune, in 1871. Woodwork did, however, continue to prosper, and the opening of the Saint-Martin canal, in 1825, served to further cement the neighbourhood’s identity as a place of craftsmanship and industrial endeavour. These activities determined the architecture of Faubourg Saint-Antoine, with the houses looking onto the street and the workshops, often of lighter construction, arranged as lean-to buildings around courtyards and alleyways. Many artisans today, unable to cope with the area’s soaring prices, are being forced to leave their Saint-Antoine workshops, and the lean-tos are being converted into loft apartments. Christian Descombes Ed. - Our thanks go to the Bottali et fils workshop, and Laurent Bottali in particular, for their generous provision of the photos, from their archives, which illustrate this article.
The Faubourg Saint-An There were 3 schools of fine arts and crafts in the neighbourhood. They had to train a lot of people; there was a lot of work and demand was high! “My paternal grandfather, Mathias Friederich, came to Paris with his three brothers, who were all cabinetmakers from Remich (Luxembourg), and they established their workshop in a street in the very heart of Faubourg Saint-Antoine, the Passage de la Bonne-Graine. My great-grandfather on my mother’s side, Jean Sicard, from south-west France, “came up” to Paris after having completed his “Tour de France” as a cabinetmaking journeyman in 1857 and also set himself up in the Passage de la Bonne-Graine. My father (Léon Friederich) and mother (Andrée Sicard) actually met in the Passage de la BonneGraine. I was born on 16 January 1932. From 1938 to 1945 I was in Blois, initially, and later stayed with my cousin in Loir-et-Cher, where my father sent me upon the death of my mother because of the war and the shortages faced in Paris. It was there that I passed my School Certificate. In June 1945, at the age of 13, my father called me back to Paris and I enrolled in a school of fine cabinetry.
toine of Daniel Friederich
â€œIn 1979, I visited the Faubourg with my son, Sylvain (born 1965), and took a photograph of him in front of the old family workshop.â€?
“Left, my grandfather, Mathias Friederich. Right, my father, Léon Friederich and my mother, Andrée Sicard.”
“Everyone in my family, on both my father’s side and my mother’s side, was involved in cabinetmaking. ” There were three schools of fine arts and crafts in the neighbourhood: École Boulle, the one in Rue Charles-Baudelaire and a third one in Rue Faidherbe. They had to train a lot of people; there was a lot of work and demand was high! In the mornings, the coursework included drawing and art history; in the afternoons we had practical classes. It was a four-year course of study. At the end of it, we came out with a Vocational Training Certificate, and I was ranked 11th out of 400. None too shabby, right? The instructor told my father that I “shone” in class. Once I graduated, I started work with a friend of my father’s. I must’ve worked for a year or two with him before heading off to do my military service. I already quite enjoyed the guitar at the time and
when I was doing my military service I had a guitar in my locker. Everything happened gradually from there, since it wasn’t until 1955 that I made my first guitar. My father, who specialised in Louis XV style furniture, disapproved of my penchant for guitar-making but later, once he saw my first creations, he was pretty impressed! He was the one who actually found my first workshop for me, in Rue Ramponeau (1958), on the second floor. The landlord was one of his suppliers. I was there for five years. In 1966, I went back to Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Rue du Sergent-Bauchat, in the workshop of an old woodturner in the traditional woodworking district, where my parents had lived.“ D. F.
“My grandfather on my mother’s side, Victor Sicard, was a real prankster. In this photo, he’s standing in the Passage de la BonneGraine, during the 1910 Paris flood. He had upended a cupboard and was using it like a boat.”
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