Gitara ni Juan: Development of Prototype Design and Standardization of the Guitar-making Process for Quality Classical Guitars Using Select Philippine Woods.
Gitara ni Juan is a project initiated by the College of Music and the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI) of UP Diliman. Funded by the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the project is an interdisplinary collaboration between Filipino musicians and engineers who aim to preserve the country's luthiery and to leverage local wood industry using modern techniques for wood selection, wood crafting, and structural design in building quality classical guitars. The project’s main proponents are Asst. Prof. Nathan Manimtim (project leader), and Instructors Crisron Lucas and Dewitt Dalisay, with the help of researchers Bernice Go, Ivan Reyes, and Adel Sta. Maria.
Entry-level classical guitars, both locally-made and imported, are usually made from plywood. In contrast, most high-quality guitars available in the market are created using imported solid woods such as spruce, cedar, or rosewood. With more than 3000 species of Philippine woods, Gitara ni Juan project explores the use of locally available woods as alternatives. Gitara ni Juan also aims to set a control standard for the construction of classical guitars which will boost local guitar-making industry by producing a luthier guide or compendium. Moreover, with the feasibility of the Philippine woods in the guitar prototypes, tree plantation farms may be developed to sustain the supply of the local woods and provide additional jobs in the agriculture industry. The end goal of this project is to give the ordinary Juan access to quality and affordable entry-level classical guitars.
The Gitara ni Juan project kicked into full gear with the arrival of William Alama, the project’s official luthier, from Dauin, Negros
Oriental. Two guitars have already been completed, and
the construction of the twelve prototype guitars using
local wood has begun.
In the meantime, the project has been receiving attention from various sources. Last July 24-28, 2015, the Gitara ni Juan project participated in the National Science and Technology Week 2015 (NSTW) at the SMX Convention Center. Alongside several other projects under the UP Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development (OVCRD), the team was able to reach out to people of all walks of life and spark their interest not only in the project, but in the guitar as whole. Booth visitors were captivated by the miniature guitars made by William that they could assemble and disassemble, providing them an insight into the guitar making process. Their eyes were also opened to the amount of engineering and science involved in the design, construction, and acoustics of the instrument. Finally, they were treated to performances by guitar majors from the UP College of Music – the first time for most of them to learn about the field of classical guitar music.
Also, in September, PCIEERD sent over a team to the College of Music to make a short video documentary on the project in order to begin promoting it to the public, in the hopes of spreading the word far and wide of a locally-designed and made guitar we can all be proud of.
A concert will take
place sometime in April or May 2016 featuring the
instruments made by Gitara ni Juan. Everyone can finally
judge for themselves if the instruments are truly worthy
“Conducting the listening test”
“Meeting with the staff of Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) in the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños-College of Forestry and Natural Resources (UPLBCFNR).”
“Recording a guitar sound sample using a mechanical mechanism.”
A meeting with Engr. Josephine Carandang and Forester Robert Natividad.”