Luthier Omar Corrales

WhO We Are

It is worth noting that training in these guilds involves more than learning the practice of traditional hand construction techniques.  It also involves assimilation of several centuries of european stringed instrument design, and the principles of stringed instrument design in general. 

In this spirit, besides his guitar building, Omar has always enjoyed building a variety of other stringed instruments, including antique forms such as laúdes and vihuelas, and instruments native to Latin America such as the charango, cuatro, and tiple.  And, yes, he has even built the standard forms of ukulele.  This knowledge of historical forms and construction, together with the wide array of building experience have been key in the formulation of the Southcoast family of instruments. 

Don Omar is of course best known for his classical concert guitars.  He has built instruments for many international classical and traditional Latin guitarists, including Alirio Díaz (Venezuela),  Juan Falú (Argentina),  Jorge Strunz (Strunz y Fara),  David Qualey (USA), and Carlos Barboza-Lima (Brazil).  In addition, he has supplied instruments to the Guitar Orchestra of the University of Virginia.

He is one of the American continents’ finest and most experienced stringed instrument builders. 

The Southcoast Ukulele & Guitar Comapany was a project spun off from my consulting company, South Coast Furniture.  South Coast Furniture offers design, production, finish formulation and quality control services to furniture manufacturers, and is the type of work I have done for most of my life.

I have spent quite awhile in Central America, where I designed and developed lines of furniture for export to the United States.  Shortly after arriving, I began to hear music from the Caribbean coast that had rhythms much like some of our Creole music back home in New Orleans. 

Bands went from one restaurant or bar to the next.  The rhythm section would consist of one or more of the following: a hand drum, a rumba box, a washtub bass or maracas.  Then in addition there were stringed instruments: always a banjo, accompanied by a guitar, or an instrument I had never seen before - a Cuatro.  Some were simple and crude, while others were beautifully made, using the fine local woods.  With the finer instruments, there was also wonderful sound.  These Cuatros reminded me a bit of the first stringed instrument of my youth - a baritone ukulele, and planted a seed in my mind to return to playing music after an absence of many years.

A few years later I visited the shop of a luthier I had heard mentioned.  His name is Omar Corrales.  He is a joy to know, blending modesty with artistry, and a deep knowledge of his craft with the desire to explore and grow.

I originally visited with the idea of simply acquiring some custom instruments for myself.  The relationship was so amicable, however, and the resulting product so beautifully done, that I was moved to build the relationship; to give others the opportunity to experience an “Instrumento De Estudio Corrales”. 

I give some input into the general outlines of  the instruments and also some small input into details.  The great majority of the design, construction and material selection, however, are left to the maestro.  With his background and his spirit of innovation, he is able to re-interpret the forms of familiar instruments in ways that are unique, and in my opinion, altogether brilliant.

Omar Corrales began work in guitar making at the age of ten in the shop of his maternal uncles.  He then worked with another uncle, Emmanuel Mora Garro, who was one of Central America’s best known guitar makers from the ‘40s through the ‘70s,  when he passed away.  Don (the spanish  title of respect) Omar then opened his own shop.

Wanting to dig deeper into the traditions of his craft, in 1987 he traveled to Europe to gain formal training in the ancient guilds.  First at an Italian School of Lutherie, and then working with his friend, the late, renowned Luthier Manuel Contreras of Madrid,  he obtained the grade of “Luthier” in the construction of stringed instruments, with specialty in guitars.

 

 

                   

 

 

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           To Listen to a Corrales Concert Guitar - Click below - Wait for file to load

 

                    Composer: Alvaro Esquival  / played by Lic. Ramonet Rodriguez