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Meet the Forester: Andrea Florinett

Meet the Forester: Andrea Florinett

by Greg Hanson

previously published in American Lutherie #93, 2008

In the summer of 2005, I took a step that many an amateur luthier eventually must — I ordered European spruce tops from a European source over the Internet. The Internet has become a vital vehicle for commerce, but when it comes to selecting tops for acoustic guitars, nothing can replace hands-on inspection, even for those of us with less than full-time professional experience. The tops that showed up on my doorstep two weeks after I clicked the “Submit Order” button exceeded my expectations, but I liked some better than others. How, then, to solve this problem other than trekking off to Europe to test, tap, and touch the so-called Holy Grail of the Mother Continent, Picea abies?

As a professor of German and a fluent speaker of the language, I threw caution to the wind and wrote to Andrea Florinett of Tonewood Switzerland in Graubünden, Switzerland. I took advantage of the three main reasons many teachers become teachers — June, July, and August — to ask Andrea if I could work for him for a couple of weeks on a volunteer basis.

I can only imagine what reservations the Florinett family might have had, but a week later I received a very welcoming e-mail from Annette Florinett, Andrea’s wife, accepting my offer. Tonewood Switzerland is largely a family-run operation with one full-time employee, and they were glad to gain a helping, albeit inexperienced, hand.

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