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Letter: Fleishman and Fabio Lutherie Class

Letter: Fleishman and Fabio Lutherie Class

by Mike Moger

Originally published in American Lutherie #68, 2001



I was sanding the top of a classical guitar recently with 600-grit paper. When I thought the job was about done, I walked out into the sunlight, held the instrument up to the light, and looked closely. I wasn’t nearly finished, and was glad for having made the trip. It reminded me of Fabio Ragghianti, the luthier who taught me to take that short walk. And of Harry Fleishman, the man who offered me the opportunity to study under him.

I encourage anyone interested in becoming a better luthier to take a class. I’d built furniture for many years, and had wanted to build a guitar, but had no idea how even to begin. Books helped , but the class I took this past June in Boulder, Colorado at the Luthier’s School of the Rockies was invaluable.

The school was run by Harry, with thirty years of experience in designing and building guitars. Four students worked under Fabio, an Italian luthier who has been building classical instruments for twenty years. Fabio provided the plans and the primary teaching; we used Harry’s tools. Harry looked over our shoulders and constantly added to the exchange of ideas. The rules were easy. You do your best to build a guitar that is structurally strong, with a great sound, and beautiful. Nothing is done without knowing the reason for doing it.

One great benefit was to compare Harry’s modern methods and machinery to Fabio’s methods that have been used in Europe for 200 years. Fabio’s quiet patience allowed for mistakes to be made, followed by lessons on how to correct them. Harry’s energy and enthusiasm filled us with different ways to accomplish the same things. And Fabio’s French polishing demonstration alone was worth all that we’d done before it. They are more than creative and quality-driven professionals. They are great teachers, fun to be with, and willing to give us everything we could soak up during the class.

So I built my guitar, and will build many more. And each time I walk out into the sun to look closely at what might be a finished job, I’ll remember the class, and thank two good men for what they gave us.

PS: Harry has closed the school in Boulder. He’s now the Director of the Luthiers School International.

Harry Fleishman
1533 Welter Ct.
Sebastopol, CA 95472-2655

Fabio Ragghianti lives and works in Italy, and can be reached at ◆