Guitar makers often work from detailed drawings of instruments made by earlier makers. In his book on Antonio De Torres, Jose Romanillos refers (p. 58, 125-6 & 187 of the first edition) to a plan of Torres FE 26, drawn in 1953 by Theodorus M. Hofmeister, and published in the 1954 issue of The Guitar Review magazine. Romanillos writes that this was “a landmark in guitar construction of the Torres school because, for the first time, guitar makers, professional and amateur alike, could have an insight into the work of Torres and more importantly, into the dimensions to draw upon for making a guitar.”1 In the catalogue section of his book, Romanillos cautions the reader that there are doubts about the accuracy of the drawing and in fact the authenticity of the guitar itself, but nevertheless it offered aspiring guitar makers the first opportunity to construct a classical guitar along the lines of that of a legendary luthier.
I have acquired2 an original copy of The Guitar Review 1954 and scanned the Hofmeister article/plan, which can be downloaded as a PDF. I don’t know where this guitar is currently held or whether its authenticity was ever resolved, but in the history of classical guitar making it marks an important moment in what was to become a widespread practice (e.g. here and here) of creating scale drawings to study and be guided by in the workshop.
- In terms of the historical timeline I am constructing, this is a year before Hoing’s series of articles were published in Woodworker magazine. The Hofmeister plan appears to be the first detailed drawing of a classical guitar available in the UK, while the Hoing articles are the first set of instructions.
- I want to thank Julian Beckton for providing me with a run of The Guitar Review magazine from 1949 to 1959. Before he retired, I used to work with Julian and recently came across references to his father, Ben Beckton, in copies of BMG magazine from the early 1950s. Ben Beckton, who named his son after Bream, used to play guitar with Terry Usher at the Manchester Guitar Circle. His copies of The Guitar Review, published in New York, must have been prized possessions not least because they were imported from the USA and had regular contributions by Segovia, but also because the magazine itself was beautifully produced with some extraordinary artwork.