1. GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up (or begin) being a luthier?
DIEGO VILA: Many years ago my bass guitar broke and I thought about trying to repair it. The process got me more and more into the details, studying, and finally I came across a luthier whom I still have a relationship with today.
So, with what I could learn by myself, through what he was teaching me and the pleasure the work was giving me, I was evolving into becoming a full-time luthier. It was the best way of getting me back into music.
2. G.E.: What inspires you to design and manufacture a new guitar?
D.V.: Many things, the design of any guitar, the automotive design, even any touch up or material that I want to use...also any idea to get a determined sound, or to experiment with some designing factor of the guitar, like the scale, or any type of variation on the traditional or more standardised construction. The creative process that comes from the customized orders is also very interesting. This interaction is very demanding to the imagination and the results are sometimes surprising. I have learned never to say ‘no’ to a client’s requirements, strange as that may sound at first, the solution finally arrives and the process is very enriching.
3. G.E.: Do you look for a certain sound for any special reason?
D.V.: Beyond the fact that in the orders it’s about looking for a custom sound of the client, in the guitars I design I try to find a warm sound, a bit traditional, but adjusted to the evolution of today’s guitars.
4. G.E.: Choose and explain: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop...or what?
D.V.: That’s an impossible one for me. Little by little I have widened the spectrum of music I listen to (my latest binge was swing, and gypsy jazz) and I like it more each time I hear it. The more the better. Nothing is too much in music except the lack of talent, opportunism, and pretentiousness.
5. G.E.: Are you a hired craftsman or a solitary hermit?
D.V.: A honest craftsman, I would say. I don’t like solitude in itself, but to work at my pace and without determinants is one of the beauties of this trade...
6. G.E.: What was the last record you bought? and the last you listened to?
D.V.: The last record I bought was “Enthusiastic Attempts at Hot Swing & String Band Favourites” by The Two Man Gentlemen Band. And the last I listened to was “Anti socialites” by Alvvays.
7. G.E.: Electric or acoustic?
D.V.: Electric. It gives me incomparable design freedom.
8. G.E.: What’s the secret behind your woods?
D.V.: There’s no secret in itself. The important thing is to understand the relation between different types of wood and sound. And how to put them together to get the desired tone.
...AND TWO HANDS…
9. G.E.: Why should we choose luthier guitars over big guitar makers?
D.V.: There are many reasons. When you buy a luthiers guitar, you don’t just buy a guitar but open a relationship with the instrument taken to another level to what you find in a factory instrument. Factories offer ranges of products in which the guitarist must know how to fit. A guitar crafted by a luthier is always something else, it’s the expression of your relationship with the instrument.
But most important of all is that a crafted guitar speaks of the guitarist more than any other thing, wherever that guitar is, so is the guitarist, there is no other. And that is why it’s important to see it as something different from a series instrument.
10. G.E.: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to play your guitars?
D.V.: I have some clients more well known than others, but what (I think) they have in common is the love of classic Rock & Roll. I try to make rock guitars, that sound timeless. As a wish, almost impossible to fulfil, I would like Albert Lee to try one of my guitars some day.
+1. G.E.: Which strings do you use, and what amps do you like for your guitars?
D.V.: I usually use D'addario XL Níquel, but I also like the Pyramids and the Thomastik-Infelds very much. My job is to make the guitarist sound good on any amp, but personally I really like the Fender classics, like the Princeton or the Deluxe Reverb.
Vila Custom Guitars & Basses official website: http://guitars.diegovila.com/