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Cohen, Brian
Brian Cohen is an established professional luthier, having made over 500 instruments since 1972. Having started out making and repairing guitars in South Africa in 1974 he travelled to the U.K. David Rubio gave his advice and suppport generously and freely over the years, and Brian did also work for him on occasions as an 'outworker'.After starting out in East Finchley, London, in 1974, he ran his own studio in London near the Portobello Road, then moved to a shared workshop in the Early Music Centre, founded by Anthony Rooley in 1976, where he shared the workshop space with many other makers, including Norman Myall, Bob Eyland, Norman Reed, Maish Weisman, Michael Sprake, Steven Murphy, Neil Hansford, Klaus Jacobsen and others. During this period, a tremendous amount of research was being done by all the makers into the authentic construction of lutes, theorboes, early guitars of all sorts, gambas etc, and the atmosphere of the centre generated an enthusiasm amongst the makers there to produce the best instruments around. He made the first modern reconstruction at this time of the earlest surviving 'vihuela', with a fluted vaulted back instrument based on an original by Belchior Dias, 1581, which itself is similar in construction to the 'Chambure' vihela. Over the next decades he made many lutes, theorboes, chittarone, violas da gamba, violins and cellos, etc, including an accurate copy of the ivory 'liuto attiorbato' by Sellas commissioned by Toyohiko Satoh. However, throughout this period, he always continued to develop and build fine classical guitars.In 1979, he set up another workshop in South London, where he concentrated not only on classical guitars but also researched classical Italian violin making techniques, and in 1986 won the prestigious Crafts Council Award, for cello construction, the only cello maker to have done so. He then went on to win the Silver Medal in the Manchester International Cello Festival in 1990, and the 'bowed strings' still have a substantial part in the annual output. He is also a member the 'Crafts Council Selected Makers' Index.He moved out into the countryside of Surrey in 1987, then into the centre of Guildford in 1997, renovating an old building, known as the 'Old Glassworks', where he now makes, restores and deals in all manner of stringed instruments, specializing in fine and rare guitars.In 1991 Brian was approached by Julian Bream to make a precise physical and acoustic copy of the 1940 Hauser 1 - this relationship continued for some years, and by 1996 Bream had commissioned some 8 guitars from Cohen. He learned a tremendous amount from Julian, mainly to do with the precise calibration and tuning of the wood prior and during construction, a method which he subsequently further developed and worked into a system now in use in all his guitars, which he calls 'Dynamic Resonance'. Cohen is mentioned by Jose Romanillos in his 'Torres' book as a maker in the 'Torres style'.He works in a very traditional manner, and any 19th C guitar maker stepping into Cohen's workshop today would instantly recognize the tools, materials, techniques and methods of making currently employed, to the extent that still in daily use is an original 19th C treadle circular saw, a treadle lathe, and countless original fine hand tools. Some handtools originally belonging to David Rubio are also still in daily use making guitars. It is only by working the woods directly by hand in the traditonal methods with virtually no 'machining' that the authentic and full potential of the wood can be realized. He specializes in making unique rosettes for each guitar, with the 'long grain' showing, and this made possible by using these original tools.Many players of world renown are playing on, and have played on, Brian Cohen's guitars in concerts, recordings, and performances of all types. The guitars are known for their lightness, easy action, dynamic range, and they are just a real pleasure to play.
I became a professional guitar maker in 1972, and am now the longest-established independant classical guitar maker in the UK. I specialize in traditional Spanish guitars, made in the authentic Torrres or Hauser 1 'Spanish model' style.
Surrey, United Kingdom
Julian Bream
Concert, Hauser, Model A, Model B, Model S, Model T, 000, Archtop
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