Dimitri's Guitar Review: August 30, 2004

Maker:    Aaron Green
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Type:    Flamenco Guitar
Year:    2004
Price:    $5,000
Scale:    655 mm
Top:    Canadian Engelmann Spruce 1
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 Back & Sides:    Mediterranean Cypress
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Neck:    Spanish Cedar
Fretboard:    Ebony
Rosette:    Inspired by designs found at the Alhambra.
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Tuners:    Sloane machine heads, with ebony knobs
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Action:    52mm / 2mm action @ nut
  3mm action @ 12th fret, 6th string
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Headstock:    Brazilian Rosewood veneer
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Bridge:    Brazilian Rosewood
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  Sound Samples (MP3):    No reverb, compression, or EQ adjustments were made to these samples.  
  Recorded using ProTools 6.4 LE, Mbox, with a Rode NT3 mic.
  Farruca  2
  Taranto por Buleria  3
  Alegria  4

This flamenco guitar (called a blanca—Spanish for white—because of the lighter-colored woods used for the back and sides) is hand-built by luthier Aaron Green.

It's an exemplary example of what a world-class blanca ought to be: beautifully constructed by hand, with powerful basses, strong lyrical trebles, balanced across all registers, easy to play, responsive, and loud!

Aaron's preferred action for his guitars is between 3.2-3.5mm. But, I felt that was a little too high for my playing style. So, Aaron made me two saddles—one high and one low—at no extra charge. The low saddle is much better suited to my playing, and gives the notes a greater edge to them, which I find to be an added bonus. If you order a guitar from Aaron, ask for two saddles.

The feel of the rounded neck is quite comfortable. The action is also very comfortable between the open and 12th frets. As you go up the neck, the action gets higher (which is normal) however the action on the 12th fret is just slightly higher than I'm accustomed to. It's not a problem for guitarists who don't often play beyond the 12th fret. But if you're a guitarist who always plays solo works that require precision playing beyond the 12th fret, I would tell this to Aaron so that he may make the necessary adjustments to the neck when he builds your guitar.

Further, Aaron informed me that, up until recently, his flamenco customers were mostly Concert flamenco guitarists (usually students or former students of Dennis Koster.) Those guys usually wanted a higher action to bring out the tone and lessen any buzzing. Aaron is now working with more "normal" flamenco guitarists and is striving for an action that is 2.7-2.8 on the treble and 3.2 on the bass. A slightly higher action would be 3.5 on the bass, which was always the highest he says he would set a flamenco guitar.

People always try to explain tone and timbre of an instrument with just words. Oi! A demonstration is definitely the best way to do this. See my audio and video demos above.

Aaron writes: "[I]n response to what I am perceiving as current tastes, I am working on my design to give more of that 'in your face' tone. Perhaps a little more towards the soundhole...[I]n the end, each and every [guitar] is going to be unique in some way and that's what keeps it interesting."

I prefer La Bella's 2001 Medium, Medium-Hard Tension or Hard Tension strings, and these are also the strings that Aaron recommends for his guitars. I used mediums for the audio and video samples.

Aaron has established himself as a master luthier, and one of the best builders in the United States (an amazing feat, considering he's 30 years old!) His guitars are inspired by Marcelo Barbero (one of the great luthiers of the 20th century). They are masterpieces. They are fun to play, have a wonderful tone, a great feel, and are responsive to the slightest articulation of your hands' touch. And most importantly: his guitars possess that inexplicable quality heard from guitars built by such famous Spanish luthiers as Barbero, Santos, Esteso, Reyes (a quality mostly lost, ironically, in guitars built by today's Spanish luthiers, for reasons beyond the scope of this review.)

Aaron's guitars will captivate both beginner and professional guitarist alike, and are definitely worth owning. As of the writing of this review, Aaron's waiting list is about one year.

To Contact Aaron Green:
681 Main Street
Waltham, MA 02452
Phone/fax number: (781) 647-9920
Website: www.aarongreenguitars.com
E-mail: agreen@aarongreenguitars.com

  1. Aaron let me in on a trade secret: it is nearly impossible to tell Engelmann spruce (at least the Canadian variety which is harder and stiffer due to the climate up there) from any of the European varieties. Further, a lot of European spruce that is imported into the US is actually Engelmann spruce which we sold to them in the first place!

  2. Opening falseta based on an original work by guitarist Daniel Fries. The rest are my own creations.

  3. This is just a very rough sketch of an idea I've been kicking around. It's a buleria in the tarantos key, juxtaposed against a 4/4 rhythm. My compas isn't perfect.

  4. Opening falseta based on an original work by guitarist Peter Wirth. The rest are my own creations. My compas isn't perfect.

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Review, photos & audio are © 2004 Dimitri Stamatis.