10 Questions We Ask Everyone

Jacaranda - Italy

There are many luthiers who build modern instruments in Italy today, yet the names of bass and guitar luthiers who have really managed to establish themselves as true 'brands' could probably only be counted on one hand. Amongst this small group, undoubtedly, is Jacaranda, the luthier workshop of Daniele Fierro and Davide Fossati located in northern Italy, who have been building instruments according to their unique quality and originality standards for over 30 years. It is not just a mere coincidence to often see Jacaranda bass and guitars in the hands of musicians treading the great Italian stages – but what’s more- it’s a clear guarantee that, whoever is playing it, really knows how to play well (unless of course, the musician in question is under contract, and is obliged to “dress” the part of a sponsor) and thus chooses instruments that sound real and guarantee everything that a musician may ask of any chosen piece: timbre, reliability, comfort and personality. We sat down with Daniele Fierro, one of the owners, in the beautiful headquarters of Jacaranda, located in the heart of Milan’s historical quarter, in the canals area of the city—known as the ‘Navigli’—and asked him our ten revealing questions.  


1. GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up becoming, or start out as, a luthier?
JACARANDA: Simple: I started building guitars as a hobby as soon as I started playing them. I was about 14 or 15 at the time, and found out that that Carlo Raspagni—a famous luthier of Milan—was going to teach a course. After four years, I was completely hooked and decided to make it my career. 30 years later, I am still happy with the choice I made.

2. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What inspires you to design and manufacture a new guitar?  
JACARANDA: It’s not easy: often there are so many different things happening all at once. I am inspired by details, sometimes by a simple piece of wood. You look at it, you take it in your hands and think to yourself, "this would be perfect for such and such a guitar …” But it's not just the wood: sometimes it can be the hardware as well, a bridge … There is no right or wrong answer, questioning the sources of inspiration and creativity is a bit like swimming in the mystery of the subconscious.

3. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Do you look for a given sound for any particular reason?
JACARANDA: I attempt to approach a sound I have stuck in my head, which is often made up of different components and contains all the instruments I play and what I hear. The sound I'm after is full of nuances and references. It is articulated and complex in nature.

4. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Select one to talk about: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop… or other.
JACARANDA: I choose ‘other’ (smiles). Genres are a limitation, a territory with borders. I like to think Jacaranda instruments have no limits; that they rather become travel companions capable of helping the musician broaden their horizons and cross borders. All this comes together with the latest pieces we created: the “Proxima De Sensi” bass and the “Lotus” electroacoustic guitar. Both are simultaneously electric and acoustic instruments, perfect for an eclectic use of the instrument. Not even our solid body electric guitars – often used by heavy rock guitarists– are made just for rock music.

5. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Are you a jobbing artist or a solitary artisan?  
JACARANDA: A commissioned artist! A prostitute par chisel! (Laughs.) The relationship with the customer is always an interchange of ideas: I’ve learnt a lot from musicians who asked me to do things I would have never done on my own.

6. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What was the last record or CD you bought? And listened to?
JACARANDA: The last one I bought was about a month or so ago, an album from 1973: Burnin’ by Bob Marley and the Wailers. The last one I listened to—just yesterday—was Monk’s Dream from Thelonius Monk. Superb. Both of them, really. Superb.  

...ONE BODY...    

7. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Electric or acoustic?

JACARANDA: Electric and acoustic. The body has to make a sound. There must be a sound, a voice out of there. Without it, you cannot do anything.  

...ONE NECK...    

8. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What is the secret behind your choice of wood?
JACARANDA: There is a secret and I shall never reveal it. It is not just because of the wood you choose. Well, there is also that, but there is more. It’s all in how you use them. I’ve said too much already ...  


9. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Why should we consider luthier-crafted guitars as a viable option to guitars made by larger manufacturers?
JACARANDA: Probably because if it is a guitar made by a luthier (and I stress the word luthier, as it requires years of studies and above all, wide experience and extensive research) it is the best in every possible aspect. Among other reasons, a guitar made by a craftsman, does not necessarily have to cost an exorbitant sum of money, and if you compare it to an industrial-made guitar of high standards (obviously I’m not talking about those at the lower end) once you pick it up and play it, you will realize there is no comparison.

10. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to play your guitars?
JACARANDA: Jacaranda instruments, in addition to having many fans, are in the hands of professionals of Italian music: in Italy pop rules the music scene. So, you will hear musicians with the Jacaranda sound, in Jovanotti, Laura Pausini, Nek or Enrico Ruggeri… Overall, they are all excellent musicians who then play continue to play Jacaranda guitars on their own solo projects in which they compose their own music. I would love to give one of our bass guitars to Esperanza Spalding: we have the perfect instrument for her … if you find her, please tell her!   If we’re talking about guitars, I would love to see a Jacaranda in the hands of Carlos Santana: not only because everything he touches turns to gold, but also because I have listened to him and respected him since I was a child.

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