13 Fox Street

Portland ME 04101

USA

Toby Rzepka, Luthier

Portland, Maine

© 2019 by Toby Rzepka, Luthier

GUITARS

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Building

Building Approach

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 instruments are designed and built for expansive tonal range, lush volume and effortless playability. From materials selection to the final voicing, 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.

Classical guitar making is an ever-evolving discipline, both for the individual luthier and for the craft as a whole. Design and execution have changed dramatically over hundreds of years of guitar history. To honor the tradition is to continue to innovate while paying homage to those master luthiers that came before. In the spirit of this balance, I combine contemporary acoustic design techniques with classic aesthetics, adhesives, tone woods, and finishes.

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 component.

The majority of my guitars are made with woods from the Dalbergia family: these are the "true rosewoods" treasured by guitar makers through the centuries. This genus of tropical hardwoods contains a stunning variety of color, figure and acoustic personality. From ultra-dark African blackwood, fiery cocobolo, violet camatillo, or warm chocolate Brazilian or Indian rosewood, I work together with my customers to choose the perfect set.

 

Rzepka sound boards are chosen from the highest quality of the master grade tone wood available globally. Each set of spruce or cedar is evaluated for stiffness, density, and acoustic efficiency before being chosen for incorporation into a guitar.

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 tone wood to resonate fully and freely. My guitars feature French polished soundboards, backs, sides and head plates, with an oil finished neck for a satin smooth feel.

 

Options

Tone Woods

One of the most important variables in guitar design is the choice of materials. I currently offer a variety of wood species for the back, sides, sound board and neck, each lending its own acoustic and aesthetic character to the instrument.

Elevated Fingerboard

The elevated fingerboard feature alters the geometry of the instrument so that part of the neck extends under the fingerboard all the way up to the sound hole. This allows the player to comfortably reach difficult positions on the highest frets. The visual effect is quite subtle and for some players the difference in comfort is substantial.

Sound Port

The vast majority of my guitars feature a secondary sound hole in the upper bout of the instrument. This port consists of an ovoid opening in the bass-side upper bout with an optional “door” to completely or partly close it when desired. The door uses rare-earth magnets to gently stay in place when in use.

The presence of a bass-side sound port affects the sound both for the player and the audience. For the player, the guitar becomes much louder, larger and more brilliant. For the audience, a boost in higher overtones increases width, resonance and power.

Tuners

Rzepka guitars come standard with high end Gotoh Premium tuners featuring ebony grips, matte brass plates, and black rollers. These tuners also feature roller bushings, ensuring perfectly smooth, squeak-less tuning action. For customers wishing to upgrade to a custom tuner, I also offer machines by Klaus Scheller and Rodgers. These tuners are hand made and offer a wide range of plate designs and other stylistic choices.

Cases

Rodgers Tuner with Sterling Sliver Plate & Ebony Grips on a 2016 Rzepka

Rzepka guitars ship in a Humicase Protege case, a solid and attractive ply-constructed case offering good day-to-day protection in black exterior/dark blue interior. For players interested in a higher-end case suitable for airline baggage check or a lighter weight case I am happy to pair your guitar with a custom case from Humicase, Visesnut, Hoffee, Accord, Karura or Bam at an additional cost. Please contact me for details.

 

Prices & Ordering

Guitar prices currently start at $6000-$6500 for Indian rosewood, katalox or maple, $7000 for African blackwood, camatillo rosewood, zircote, or cocobolo, and $8000 for Brazilian rosewood. To place an order, please contact me directly. A non-refundable $500 deposit is required to reserve your order. Depending on the current waiting list, most instruments are completed within one calendar year from the order date. Payment in full is required upon completion of the instrument. In-state purchases are subject to Maine’s 5.5% sales tax.

Guitars can be shipped anywhere in the US for $100. For international shipping, please contact me.

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