The archguitar was invented in the early 1980's by Peter Blanchette
as a way to
bridge the gap between his guitar and lute playing, as these two
instruments require radically different technical approaches.
Its light bracing pattern allows the top of the instrument to vibrate
more freely, and the extra strings increase the sympathetic resonance
of the instrument. The result is a sound that is a kind of cross between
lute, baroque guitar, 19th century guitar, and modern classical guitar.
I was first introduced to the Archguitar by James Kline
masterclass given in 2001, when I was 15. Though I was impressed
instrument's capabilities and its exoticism, I didn't feel drawn to
it. I had only been playing classical guitar for a few months,
and wanted to become more established in the traditional repertoire and
When I was a Freshman at the San Francisco Conservatory, I began to
feel dissatisfied with the limitations of the traditional 6 string
guitar. One of my teachers, Matthew Grasso
to 7-string guitar and encouraged me to explore the possibility of
doing the same. After playing his guitar and seeing the
possibilities it offered, I felt as though I didn't have a choice.
A beautiful seven string guitar was built for me by Scott Richter
Fairfax, California, in 2004. I loved this instrument and
developed a repertoire for it, consisting of keyboard, lute, and
orchestral transcriptions, as well as 6 string guitar pieces that I
adapted to fit its range. As much as it was a pleasure to play
such a unique and well constructed instrument, something wasn't working
for me about the tone of the modern classical guitar in general. I felt that
it lacked a certain delicacy of sound that I was looking for.
I contemplated taking up the lute, but to authentically perform all of
the lute repertoire I was interested in, I would have needed at least 4
different instruments. This would have put a damper on my guitar
playing (not to mention my wallet...) because of the lute's radically
Enter the Archguitar.
One day, while working on tone production, I put on a recording of
James Kline, and something clicked for me. I knew that this was
the sound I had been searching for. The Archguitar would allow me
to keep my classical guitar technique and repertoire, but give me the
lute-like tone that I loved so much.
After a period of weighing my options and playing an Archguitar loaned
to me by James Kline, I commissioned San Francisco-based luthier Alan
to build me an 11-string Archguitar. The result has
turned out to be my dream guitar, and I'm grateful for every day that I
can wake up and play this beautiful instrument.