Mark Ingham. England. Bernabe M20 Spruce.

Dear Adrain, Selina, Sandra

Firstly I must apologise for not getting in touch before now. Having got back into playing after a 10 year lay-off I wanted an instrument I could really grow and improve with. It has been just over a year since I purchased the Bernabe M20 from Stafford Classical guitar, replacing my tired and worn-out Aranjues which I aquired in 1979. I took a number of years deciding what and where to buy, travelling to different music stores trying out various guitars and more recently through the internet, only to be guided, (usually by the sales person) to buy what they thought I should purchase, and of coures they tend to have limited knowledge (no fault of their own) of Classical guitars because of selling a variety of instruments from piano's/brass/drums/strings, and aren't going to be an expert on all of the above! And I started thinking, 'who's right and who is wrong, I need some expert advice here' This is when I discovered SCGC, and spoke initially to Adrian, who struck me as having a vast knowledge of the classical guitar, any questions I had were answered fully and concisely, putting me at ease right away, and giving good stolid advice about choosing the right instrument for me! I feel I must have telephoned Adrian hundreds of times over a couple of years before making an appointment to go to SCGC in person, (fortunately for me I live in Manchester, so it was only a couple of hours drive away from my home!) Adrian I must say never seemed to get fed-up with my telephone calls, and was always polite and courteous! Over a period of months I chatted to Adrian about various guitars he had in stock, the Luthier's, type of wood's etc and decided that I would try amongst others some bernabe guitars. Driving down to SCGC I think I was more nervous having to play in front of a stranger (which I've never done) let alone a couple of family members who came for support, and a day out! Although I have been playing for a number of years I'm not exactly Julian Bream!.

My fears were put aside when I met Adrian, who welcomed us into the studio and put me at ease straight away, chatting about all manner of things before introducing me to the guitars I had selected a week or so before. Sitting down and still a tad nervous I was handed several guitars one by one, not wishing to know which was the bernabe M20. Trying to listen to the sound and get a feel for the instruments, rivulets of sweat now pouring down my face, and feeling embarrassed at my lack of play-ability. Adrian suggested that I disgard instruments one by one for whatever reason if I didn't like them, then choose two or three that I could live with. I was then handed a guitar which felt quite substantial to the touch and the workmanship and finish was beautiful to say the least! I thought to myself 'hey up! We've stumbled across something here' When I plucked the strings sound seemed to fill the room, even my family members noticed the difference between this and the other guitars (one of whom isn't a musician) I think the words Wow/great sound were used quite a lot!

Now the list is down to three guitars and enter Selina, who was good enough to play a piece on each of the remaining guitars, whilst the three of us stood in the corner of the studio facing the wall, (rather like naughty school children), listening to the sound which resonated with us, (by which time I think I had already made up my mind but just needed clarification) I pointed to one of the above stating 'that's the Bermabe', I knew instinctively that this guitar was the one for me, and of course it was the M20! I was given advice by Adrian and Selina on how best to look after my new found friend (de-humidifiers/hygrometer's etc) and then spent the next 10 minutes or so just staring at the guitar in its open case (the case itself being beautiful and something you could just live in!) I had to wait for a number of months until I had paid the balance before I could pick my guitar up, which was painful to say the least. When I did eventually get the instrument home I spent weeks just opening the case for the shortest of periods, not letting anyone breath near, let alone touch it, whilst checking the hygrometer to see if it was safe enought to bring the guitar out into the open air! It was like a living breathing thing which needed to be cared for and protected at all costs. A year or so on (still cared for and protected) and the instrument is really beginning to open up, she has great rich full and powerful sound across the range with jut the right amount of treble/bass (the basses being little boomy at first) and it just feels right in my hands. The sustain and resonances are fantastic with sound just pouring out of the instrument, not having to be forced at all! And because in has a spruce top there is still plenty more to come in the sound stakes! It knocks the Aranjues into a cocked hat, although I still play the above when the humidity isn't at the desired levels to get the Bernabe out of it's case! My play-ability has improved no end , and when playing for example Canco del laddre/El noy de lamare the sound of each note is crystal clear, and the overall sound sends shivers down my spine ! All I want to do is play all the time! It has a great touch and feel and looks just stunning!! I thank Adrian, Selina and Sandra for their advice...and patience, and if I wanted another guitar or even if I lived on the other side of the world, would not hesitate to purchase from them. It's hassle free and there is no pressure to buy, and you have their undivided attention , (if like me are fortunate enough to live at a reasonable distance away) whenever you have a query ther're happy to oblige. 10 out of 10 for SCGC.

Mark Ingham