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Review: French Polishing for Guitarmakers 2.0 by Dr. Ronald Louis Fernández

Review: French Polishing for Guitarmakers 2.0 by Dr. Ronald Louis Fernández

Reviewed by Tom Harper

Originally published in American Lutherie #97, 2009

French Polishing for Guitarmakers 2.0
Dr. Ronald Louis Fernández
DVD 2005 53 minutes NTSC $49.95

Ron Fernández is a smart guy with an interesting set of life experiences, a number of which provide ample background to present the material found in this tutorial. His academic studies have provided significant experiences with research, teaching, and contact with Spanish and Portuguese cultures. The thesis for his doctorate in cultural anthropology examined the interaction of Spanish and Portuguese immigrants living in the Quebec area of Canada. While doing his research, he was also a sought-out guitar player for various events within these communities.

Contact with the guitar world began earlier than his doctoral research, however. His father, who was Spanish, had an import/export business that sold goods in Spain. One of the tricks for this business was getting money made in Spain out of it. The Franco regime allowed foreigners to spend money but not take Spanish money out. Fernández senior solved this by buying Spanish goods with the profits and importing them into the United States. These goods included guitars which gave Ron, who traveled with his father, direct contact with some great builders such as Manuel Rodríguez and the builders at the José Ramírez firm. His father’s business was even supplying western red cedar to Ramírez for a period of time. Several of these business relationships turned into friendships, which allowed Ron to see firsthand the building and finishing of fine instruments. The techniques he demonstrates on the DVD are a record of Ron’s observations and discussions with the builders he has visited in addition to his personal experiences with French polishing.

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