Passion Never Retires for Geert van Opstal

What is my greatest passion? Making classical guitars of the highest level of sound, playability and beauty; instruments that will inspire their players for many years.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? The awareness of being alive! A rich social environment to share the sweet and the bitter with, safety, freedom of speech and the possibility to develop myself.

What is my greatest fear? The possibility of losing my loved ones scares the hell out of me.

What is the best thing that I love about my work? “It’s always a joy to carve a good piece of wood” my master José Luis Romanillos often stated with a big smile on his face. Working with wood and razor-sharp hand tools is a daily joy. When possible with classical music in the background, which certainly not always is guitar music!

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? According to my wife Sophie: “That you regularly fall asleep (after a day of hard labour red.) in front of the TV not cleaning up your mess before going to bed.” Sometimes some wood dust is stuck on my clothes which she doesn’t like either.

What is my greatest pitfall? Procrastination, postponing things I could do immediately, filling the day with “important” issues that don’t bring me closer to my targets, thinking too much without doing things. In short, give myself the feeling that I am busy without making real steps ahead.

On what occasion would I lie? When I should say that I would never lie.

What is the influence of role models in my work and in my life? José Luis Romanillos. He is one of the most famous guitar makers in the world. He started making guitars at the kitchen table and became very famous by making a guitar for Julian Bream who used the instrument for a thousand concerts. I had the honour to attend his ‘guitar makers course’ in the summer of 2004. I follow him from the seventies on when he first became famous.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? Sometimes there are routine jobs, which are deadly boring and simply have to be done. For the coarser work making use of machines is inevitable and will save time. It’s never a great fun!

When and where was I the happiest in my work? Hearing my instruments in a concert setting or on a beautiful recording makes me very happy. Also compliments from famous concert guitarists give me a warm feeling especially when they know my development and advised me making better guitars.

What does the phrase “Passion Never Retires” means to me? I simply cannot imagine myself not making guitars any more, but I know there is a physical end to it. Eyes and motor skills are declining at a certain age. That will also prevent me from playing the guitar. If that occurs I will shut down my workshop and concentrate on writing music for the guitar. I attend courses to learn it.

If I could, what would I change about myself? In this life you can leave everyone except yourself. I gained this insight at a very young age and concluded that it was wise to like myself. You can only be happy when you are at peace at the deepest level with who you are. It makes it easier to become a better human being and I am still making efforts for that.

What is the greatest achievement in my work? Recently I got the assignment to make a copy of the most beautiful guitar “La Cumbre” made by Antonio Torres in 1858. The guitar is richly decorated and recognised by everyone as “the masterpiece” of the classical guitar. I’m very busy collecting information about the instrument and preparing the making of the instrument. In june of 2017 it must be ready and the instrument will be presented in a concert played by Leonardo Palacios, probably in the White Castle of my village.

What is the most inspirational location in my town? In the twilight state between being awake and sleeping I think through all my plans and get the ‘strokes of genius’ that helps me with my work and life. Being a daydreamer, that can happen everywhere at any moment. It mostly happens when I am very aware of the surrounding nature. And my village Loon op Zand is full of nature.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? At home. With great pleasure and interest I cook almost every day. It enriches my life. Sophie and I are at our best, when we have people for dinner, which we can pamper.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor or partner is crime? My family of course, directly followed Baltazar Benitez. He’s one of the finest guitar players of the 20est century and also a guitar maker. We know each other for more than forty years and share the same passion.

Whom would you like to work with in the future? I would be happy if I could inspire youngsters to enjoy and play the classical guitar. As a member of the board of the The Guitarsalon Loon op Zand I promote the guitar and organise meetings where people can get acquainted with the instrument. I would be delighted if I could my three grandsons learn how to play the guitar and also to make them.

What project am I looking forward to work on? I am looking forward to the concerts of the Gitaarsalon 2016/2017 and of course to the birth and presentation of my “La Cumbre”.

Which role models would I like to meet in the nearby future, talk about their dream job? Herman Hauser (fourth generation), a family of german guitar makers, making superb instruments.

Am I ever going to retire from the work and life I love? It will ever end. I live in peace with that.

Functie: Guitar maker

Company name: Van Opstal Luthier



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