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Flamenco Guitar workshop GALLERY TESTIMONIALS

Bellucci guitars luthiers
        .........Domingo and Manuel are the 2 master luthiers that build all my custom guitars.  Juan Angel, Daniel and Miguel are their assistants and luthier apprentices.  They started building guitars at the age of 4 and learned the skill from their father. I know for a fact that no other luthier has build concert guitars using over 25 varieties of tone woods for the back and sides alone. They build with over 4 types of concert guitar construction (Torres, Hauser, Lattice, Double top) are constantly experimenting and are among the most skilled woodworkers I ever met. Hermes, Dino and Lorenzo build my stock instruments with the 1943 Hauser frame exclusively.  The workshop is attached to my studio and a tempered glass (humidity temperature control)  separates the workshop from the place where I practice. I make sure that the luthiers are supplied with all the tools necessary to produce top of the line instruments. The work setup is made of a combination of typical and extremely practical wood tools built by them and a few state-of-the-art power tools that  ensure that maximum precision is attained during some critical phases of construction. A second workshop,  is used for the final detailing, lacquering of the instruments and the stock instruments construction.  I see some of the finest instruments come to life every day and I thank both my faithful builders and my generous buyers for giving me this gift.
Renato Bellucci
Bolivian rosewood cutaway guitar
click on the images to enlarge

preparation of the guitar back and sides
guitar: Top preparation
heating the work
Joining the top
Joining the top
Joining the top
The construction begins with the preparation of the woods for the back and sides (Image #1). These are sanded to approximately 2.5 mm. Thinning goes up to 1.3 mm with the optional lattice bracing (Image #26). The final thinning is done in steps with a plane and a scraper (Image #17). The luthier will be able to tell which piece of the back and sides goes where only after scraping, planing and sanding. A caliper is used to check the thickness of the woods and thus, avoid going beyond the optimal point. Joining the two halves of the top requires experience and precision in order for the 2 parts to match perfectly (Image #2-3-4-5-6)

Tapping the Top
inserting the rosette
rosette mounted
Pressing the fan brace (lattice)
Pressing the fan brace (lattice detail)
Doming of the guitar top
cutting the back
bending the sides
lining and kerf preparation
When the 2 halves are joint, the builder begins a long period of tapping, scraping and planing in order to bring
the top to its maximum resonating thickness (Image #7) . A sound which is a B-Bb in pitch. Usually thickness goes from 1.7 mm in the outer fringe of the soundboard to approximately 2mm towards the center. These numbers vary slightly from one top the next.  The rosette inlay is prepared and the rosette is mounted (Image #8-9) . The fan brace is glued in a special gadget that pushes the top (Image #10), the bridge reinforcement and the braces into a concave surface. This is what will give the instrument the necessary curvature to counter the pull of the bridge and keep it under tension for optimum production of volume. Concert instruments have very thin tops and without the curvature they would give in to the pressure created by the bridge. Acrylic struts are used to create pressure. They push the fan brace and the top in the concave surface where drying of the glue will occur leaving the dome shape as a result (Image #10a-10b) The sides are bent with a heated iron  (Image #12 )and a special solution. Preparation of the struts and kerfs for the assembly of the back, sides and top begins (Image #11-13).

gluing the kerfs
gluing the back
joining the back
scraping the back
Preparing kerfs
Lacquering the back (inside)
prepare the heel
Gluing the top
The sides are mounted in the guitar chair (Image #14) in order to achieve the symmetrical shape of the instrument perfectly.
The halves of the back are joint (Image #15-16-17-18) and lacquered  (Image #19) . We lacquer the inside of the guitar as well, to preserve the humidity, protect the woods and make cleaning of the inside easierThe fan bracing of the guitar is assembled (Image #22-23).  The top is ready to be glued. Reinforcing struts are placed under the top in order for these to withstand the tightening of
the rope which will follow (Image #36). A tight rope that crosses several times over the top of the instrument ensures a perfect
bonding of the sides with the top (Image #15-16. This is quite a dramatic scene and the guitar parts are literally being fused into 1.  3 days have passed since we started construction. Parts of the neck are already prepared and assembled

Finishing the bracing
Lacquered the inside
Contreras/Bellucci system
Contreras/Bellucci system
Sound spreader
The light passes through
Lattice top
26 top
Double top
Top signature
The fan bracing we use is the one from the 1943 Hauser (Image #23). After the final tapping (Image #7) and sanding (Image #50), the top is examined looking through a 40 Watts light bulb (Image #25-26-27). If the thinning was good, light will pass through the wood.  The light passes through very easily in the lattice braced tops.  In the picture above where I show the double top against the light (Image #27), you can appreciate the Nomex cells (Image #28) that show against the light... Double tops allow the top to vibrate fully achieving a sound that instead of dying immediately, is sustained and then released creating a huge reverb ... on the digital db meter, double tops can push the needle up to 93.3 dbs (as a reference, keep in mind that seasoned Contreras and Ramirez guitars seldom reach 90). One of my newest Ziricote/Spruce peaked 93.5. Depending on every construction project we incorporate techniques borrowed by other world famous builder and also incorporate some of our own great breakthroughs like the use of cedar and spruce for the bracing to augment the brilliance of trebles and the depth of the basses...(Image #24-24a). The sound spreader is the perforated piece of wood that transfers the vibration from the top to the A frame and to the sides...this makes for a much fuller sound and is a Bellucci creation that we mount whenever we feel that the top will benefit from it (Image #24b). You can also see the blackwood reinforcements in the under bridge area to allow for stiffness of the super-thin top.... In the same picture, you can see the mid transverse strut made of Mahogany and linked to the top and sides by means of a cedar cubicle.... This is a Manuel Contreras II invention and acts like a sort of violin alm. The transfer to the sides and back is more intense and the structure is kept steady more efficiently resulting in most of the energy being transmitted to and by the top. This in turn, translates in  an impressive punch. 

  • The optional Violin tie: The tailpiece on a guitar is called for just as it is on every other member of the strings family (violin, etc). When the first classical guitars were built, gut strings were the norm... the tension on these was nothing compared to modern nylon strings. A tailpiece was redundant... Anchoring the strings to the lower bout meet point, which is one of the sturdiest parts of the instrument, allows the builder to thin the top more allowing for  a much bigger sound and not recur to the use of carbon fiber (Smallman and others) that give the guitar a "plastic sound. ". 
I offer the option of lattice without the tie for those looking for a more standard looking guitar... still, most buyers request that I mount the tie for aesthetical reasons  and because it prolongs the life of the top exponentially. When I build without the tie, I use 2 African blackwood crossed reinforcements in the lattice brace.

The top of the guitar is like the vocal chords on a singer: crucial ! I pass the tops signing each one and I also add the date (D.O.G. stands for  Deo Omnis Gloria, All the glory to God) (Image #29) I was taught from an early age to offer Him the fruit of my labor. I constantly ask myself: Would God like this instrument? Preparation of the neck begins (Image #20).

Lacquered inside
Carving the neck
Preparing the seat for the back struts
Struts for the back
checking the curvature
Lacquered inside
Master luthiers
The struts that hold the back are filed and glued to the kerfs and linings (Image #28) . Note the slight dome like curvature (Image #33-34-35). (See also Bellucci Phase 3 concert guitar enhancements) Both the top and the back of high end concert guitars are slightly curved like a dome. This is to counteract the forces of gravity that would otherwise push both the top and the back into the guitar body and to create a larger reverberating volume of air. The reinforcing spruce pillars that will withstand the pressure of the ropes during gluing (Image #38) are put in place (Image #36). Only the master builders can perform this task, usually in pairs (Image #37). The doming of the top is more pronounced in lattice and double top construction.

Gluing the back to the sides
The guitar is closed
Local woods to embellish
routing by hand
The guitar is closed
Gluing the bindings
adjusting the purf
Bridge preparation
mounting the frets
Glue is applied and the rope is tightened (Image #38). A few hours later, the guitar is free (Image #39) to enter the final phase of
construction. The guitar soul, it's sound is complete when the guitar is removed from the construction seat.
I tap the guitar all around to check on her character. The sound is already blossoming... The route for the bindings and the purflings is carved all around the top and sides (Image #42) . I use some gorgeous and rare Paraguayan, Asian and African species of wood to decorate parts of the head, bindings, bridge and armrest of the instrument. The frets are mounted (Image #46) and the seat for the nut bone is prepared (Image #49). Construction of the bridge and the head begins (Image #47). We are into day 6 of construction. the frets
Preparation of the head
Bridge preparation and inlay presentation
48 the back to the sides
Thorough sanding
Fine tuning
Lacquered guitar
Fine tuning the guitar
The bridge is carved (Image #48) just like the neck. The mother of pearl applications are presented (Image #48) and the place where the applications will be inlaid is carved. The guitar is ready to be sanded. Protection breathing gear is used (Image #50)  because some woods expedite powders that can be harmful (African Blackwood, Brazilian rosewood...). The guitar is ready to be finished. We  apply the wood pores sealer with a brush and the lacquer with a small compressor (Image #52). Finish is not merely aesthetical. The finish defines the sound of the instrument. Although we buy the lacquer commercially, we have a special (secret) formula of dilution products that we add to the final mix.  The final adjustment of the guitar is up to me (Image #51). It consists of 2 steps: 1-when the guitar is ready for lacquering, I secure the bridge in order to string her and adjust the  soundboard and bridge for perfect tuning (intonation) (Image #51). This is the first time the guitar amplifies the plucking of a string. 2- I tune the guitar and insert my hand in the soundhole to fine tune the struts of the top in order to achieve the best sound, and equilibrium of the voices (Image #54) . This is done after lacquering (Image #53) because the lacquer usually increases the pitch of the instrument. Having followed the construction plans very closely, makes this a labor of microns of a millimeter type of adjustment where very small amounts of wood are filed from the struts. I glue a small piece of sandpaper to the tip of my index finger to get the job right. (Image #54)

Bellucci, concert series guitars Guitar construction Facts:

1) It takes a 120 hours to build a concert guitar with the help of an apprentice. 
2) The most time consuming work is sanding
3) The most skill is required to sculpt the neck, head, bridge, bond the 2 halves of the top and fine tune the top.
4) The most delicate stage is the thinning of the soundboard and preparation of the action
5) Patience is ESSENTIAL throughout
6) The most dangerous stage is the preparation of the routes for the bindings and the purflings
7) The most thrilling experience is tapping the soundboard and hear the sound change with every planing
8) A guitar can be built using a knife and a fish, all the other tools are more or less dispensable
9) Great attention is required for the mother of pearl inlay and the routing for the rosette
10) Unbelievable is seeing the wood bend with the heat
11) Wonderful is the experience of playing a newly finished guitar
12) Miraculous is seeing a drop of water repairing a small dent on the top all by herself
10) Not anyone can build a concert guitar

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