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Duane Waterman



Lacote Style Romantic Guitars

In studying the evolution of guitars from the earliest vihuelas to the current concert instruments it is fascinating to see the slow consistent changes to body size and shape, to the scale length, materials, strings, tuning mechanisms, plate thicknesses, and particularly, top bracing ideas and patterns. I believed that I would have a better understanding where guitar making is now and where it is going (hopefully) by actually building some of these earlier instruments. I have made no vihuelas but I have made a couple Baroque guitars that are still being used in early music groups.
But making these Romantic period instruments feels more meaningful to me as a modern builder because these instruments are closer to our current instrument and because the music of that period is in most every guitarist’s repertoire. Most guitarists play pieces by Sor, Aguado, Mertz, Guiliani and other composers of the period. I have not found a classical guitarist that is not intrigued with the opportunity to play those pieces on these more authentic instruments. And a Romantic period guitar is an obvious complement to a classical guitarist’s arsenal of instruments.
The instruments of this period that I offer are generally based on the Rene’ Lacote instruments of the  1820-1835 period. They are not replicas of any existing instruments but designed from a synthesis of the features of guitars of the period. The full size instrument (the most popular) is made in either 630 mm scale or 640 mm scale length. The nut and fingerboard width used is closer to that of a full size, current concert instrument. The body woods used - spruce for the top and figured maple for sides and back - are consistent with those earlier instruments. Tuning pegs are either PegHeds™ - geared 4:1 straight pegs, as shown here - or standard 16:1 gears in a slotted head like modern guitars. These geared tuners were used or retrofitted onto many guitars later in the Romantic period - - 1830-1850. French polish, or thin lacquer, or a combination of both is used on the body surfaces, and the necks are stained black and oiled.
Deluxe instruments are planned for the near future with Brazilian rosewood bodies and more elaborate decorations.
The smaller instrument pictured here is a Terz model - shorter scale tuned to G.  A smaller instrument like this was common, used in ensemble with the larger guitars and other instruments of the period.

Basic Lacote style instrument as pictured here figured maple body and either tuning pegs or gears - with a hardshell case   

More deluxe model with Brazilian rosewood body and more decorative trim, geared tuners in a slotted head - with hardshell case