Michael F. Lazar
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Biography and Lutherie Background


In the summer of 2001, I received an invitation from the American School of Lutherie in California to attend a week long master class in classic guitar making being conducted by Gregory Byers.  Something moved me to take this seriously and it didn't take me long to find Byers' web site where I learned that he  had studied with two renowned luthiers namely, Jose Romanillos and John Gilbert

In his own biography, Greg writes; "Romanillos was (is!) wonderful. A deeply spiritual man, he showed me that lutherie is more than just gluing sticks together. Inspired by the greatness of both his artistry and spirit, I found my calling as a luthier. He gave me reason to think my life's work could touch the creative, the spiritual, the rational in equal measure. This is what I had been looking for."

To make a long story short, I attended the master class and discovered, not only a great guitar maker, but a great teacher. While Greg's approaches to voicing a guitar are much more scientific than the procedures described by Romanillos (and therefore I more easily understand them) the objectives and outcomes are the same. At the end of the class, Greg strung a new guitar that he had made and I experienced for the third time, a guitar that made a major impact upon me.


At this time I have no real impression that any one of the Haselbacher, Romanillos or Byers guitars that I have heard is better than any other. Each of them had their own character but all of them had certain characteristics that really moved me. Each had a blend of  tonal character, sustain and balanced power that is hard to describe.  The best I can say for each of them is..... "this is what a guitar should sound like". I am very aware that each of these makers, along with Hauser and others saw  Antonio de Torres as the "Stradivarius" of the guitar. Having read Romanillos ' extensive work on Torres life and work and there is no doubt in my mind that all of the luthiers that produce what I would consider to be great instruments  share a common bond, that being a deep and enduring affinity for the work of Antonio de Torres. 

When I returned from my studies with Greg Byers, I undertook the construction of a prototype guitar incorporating some of the new design features I'd seen and utilizing the new methodologies I'd learned.  Based upon the result, I  followed with 3 more which I completed during the first three months of 2002 and an additional 4 during the winter of 2002/2003. I  was delighted with the consistency in characteristics among these eight instruments.  All of these instruments were traditional in terms of their basic architecture and design.