The Romanillos tradition

Romanillos Classical Model

The Romanillos Tradition

When we say the Romanillos tradition, we are also saying the Torres tradition, as this is the tradition which Jose Romanillos claims for his own work, and which can also be attributed to the influence on Hermann Hauser. 

Jose Luis Romanillos emigrated from Madrid to England in 1956 where he pursued a variety of occupations and taught himself the craft of guitar building as a part time endeavor.  In 1970 Julian Bream was exposed to his work, and was immediately impressed resulting in a long-standing player/builder relationship.  With Bream’s support, Romanillos set up his workshop in the village of Semley, and devoted himself fully to the craft.  Many of Bream’s recordings from the 1970’s and 80’s used Romanillos guitars.

As in Torres and Hauser, the Romanillos design is a lightly braced instrument.  Fan struts are quite thin, and it foregoes the use of a soundboard patch.  Despite this, the soundboard can be planed relatively thin due to the strong use of longitudinal as well as transversal doming.  This results in an instrument with great sensitivity responding with strong volume with a light touch.  In his own words, Romanillos describes the sound he seeks as “clear trebles which are crystalline yet warm, and resonant bass as if it comes from the well of a cave.”

One joy in the playing of these guitars, is the richness of tone palettes available to the player.  It is very easy for the player to impart his or her personal choice on tone production.  Indeed, Bream is considered a master of this, and many recordings and videos exist demonstrating this on Romanillos guitars.  The sound of these guitars, though undeniably Spanish, tends to be clearer and better balanced than many of this genre.