Murten, Switzerland, 2008
Alpine Spruce Soundboard, Indian rosewood Back and Sides
Ebony fretboard with 650 mm string length
$ 7500 Sold
Philippe Jean-Mairet was born in 1953 in Lucerne, Switzerland and, after being trained and working as an architectural designer, became interested in making guitars. He smiles when he tells how he first heard a classical guitar on a jukebox in a cafe in Berne. It was Narciso Yepes playing the theme from the film "Jeux interdits" (known also as "Romance") which came on between The Rolling Stones and the Beatles. He was instantly charmed by the sound of the nylon strings in the hands of that master artist.
Determined to build himself a good guitar on which to learn how to play, Philippe Jean-Mairet decided in 1973 to bicycle from Switzerland to Barcelona, Spain, to research the creations of the great Spanish luthiers. There he came across an Enrique Garcias guitar from the turn of the century, an instrument that he loved the sound and appearance of. He examined it closely inside and out and took notes and made drawings.
Once back home in Switzerland Jean-Mairet assembled the tools and materials to build his first guitar which was completed in 1975. He studied guitar playing and, because he found the work of making instruments passionately engrossing, he continued to perfect his skills as a luthier and started creating guitars as a profession.
The new guitar which I brought back from Switzerland in March 2008 is number 232. It is in every respect an outstanding instrument with an old spruce soundboard which Jean-Mairet bought over 30 years ago from a retired German luthier. The back and sides are of evenly grained Indian rosewood. Still true to Enrique Garcia's design which first inspired him, Jean-Mairet has re-enforced the soundboard with eight braces as the Spanish master did, three struts on the bass side, one down the middle and four on the treble side where the extra rigidity creates bell-like high notes. The basses are well defined and also profound. The glue used throughout is made from a mixture of rabbit skin (for flexibility) and bone (for stability)..
For a good idea of how Jean-Mairet's guitars sound, please go to the You Tube site of Danish guitarist Peo Kindgren. Well-known players who have bought Philippe Jean-Mairet guitars include Konrad Ragossnig and Vladimir Mikulka.
The guitar we have here for sale is second hand and shows a few minor signs of use.
This is a video of the Swedish guitarist Per-Olov Kindgren playing his Jean-Mairet.