Rzepka Strings

Building Approach

Philosophy

The construction of each Rzepka concert classical guitar draws on a blend of art, science and instinct to achieve a perfectly balanced sound and feel. My customers expect an expansive tonal palette, lush volume and effortless playability, and my design and construction processes have been honed to achieve these qualities. When selecting materials for a given instrument, I combine hard data with my feeling for the “soul” or character of the wood. Each guitar is built to the needs of the individual player, with careful decisions made at each step in the process regarding wood choice, thickness, density and stiffness.

I am honored to be continuing the centuries-old tradition of classical guitar making, and also appreciate more recent developments made by late 20th and 21st Century pioneers. To that end, my guitar designs encompass a spectrum from a more traditional Spanish-style approach to one incorporating modern innovations like bass-side sound ports, double tops, and elevated fingerboards.

The neck shape, fingerboard shape, frets and setup of my guitars are carefully designed for supple, comfortable playing. Players who prefer low action find that they can play more aggressively without buzzing, and the diminished physical strain allows for greater focus on musical expression.

Materials

One of the great joys of guitar making is breathing new life into material that lived for hundreds of years in the heartwood of a tree. I’ve always loved the feeling of connection that comes from natural materials, so I tend to use ingredients found in nature for my work. From the soundboard to the decorative bindings and purflings to the final French polish, almost everything in a Rzepka guitar derives from a plant or animal.

In order maintain complete control over quality, style, and craftsmanship, every part of each instrument is made from the raw wood in my shop. Aside from the tuners, frets, and strings, I personally craft each piece, from the rosette to the internal linings.

The majority of my guitars are made with decades-old Indian rosewood, dense, dark and resonant, though I use many other body woods as well. I most often use Swiss alpine spruce or western red cedar for soundboards, though red spruce and salvaged old-growth redwood are also used. Honduras mahogany is my go-to neck wood of choice, but I’ve also had a lot of success with black cherry, as its higher density tends to accentuate sustain. Spanish cedar offers a lighter, livelier neck feel.

Due to growing concern about the sustainability of rosewoods and other exotics, I have also been exploring domestic and sustainable tone woods. My locally sourced guitars feature red spruce, flamed sugar maple and black cherry for exceptional sustain, evenness and articulation.

Finishes

For classical guitars, no finish can match a fine French polish. Built up by hand over thousands of micro-layers, the process leaves behind a paper-thin shellac coating that allows the soundboard to resonate fully and freely. My guitars feature French polished soundboards, backs, sides and head plates, with a linseed oil finish on the neck and bridge (the neck and bridge can be French polished at the customer’s request).

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