The life and work of master luthier Hervé
From Paris to Nuremberg
Born on 2 October 1951 in the luthier quarter Rue de Rome/Batignoles 17. Arr.t (Millant.Camurat.Enel.Vatelot) in Paris, Hervé R. Chouard studied German at the Sorbonne in Paris and in Tübingen, Germany. There he became acquainted with the ingenious luthier W.J. Vogt. The student of German swept his books aside and officially apprenticed as a luthier. After his years as journeyman, he obtained his master in Nuremberg.
A legacy of craftsmanship
Many attempts had been made to construct a well tempered guitar in the past; as did René Lacôte in 1852.
From 1980 until 1990, Vogt developed a modern and apt system: the finely tunable fretboard. Vogt died at age 54 on 17 March 1990.
“His irons are still aglow” – as they say France. And, Hervé R. Chouard decided to continue Vogt`s work – to prevent that his ten years of dedication to the well tempered guitar would have been in vain.
The Fret Mobile Chouard
Since 1995 this system is termed Fret Mobile Chouard and it exists in two versions: Peek Synthetic or N 37 Nickel Silver ((also see The finely tempered guitar). A classical guitar can be tuned almost like a piano with the Fret Mobile. The fine adjustment of the frets is executed to a precision of +/- 1 to 2 % by using an upscale guitar tuner (Peterson).This takes approximately 50 minutes. In addition, new strings should be pre-stretched 5 days in advance.
The Fret Mobil in action
Guitarists have been playing instruments with a fixed mensure for more than two centuries – before guitars had movable gut frets. Guitar players and audience have become used to listening to a typical guitar-like, but incorrect intonation.
The Fret Mobil, when adjusted properly, generates a crystal clear and clearly discernible tone. This is due to the fact that a tone hardly oscillates. Instead, the ears hear pleasing resonances which interact with each other. Hence, the instrument creates an unknown dimension of guitar sounds.
As an additional advantage, the musician is not required to retune his instrument during performing as is the case with a normal guitar (mode).
Continuous development of the Fret Mobile
“Richness of harmonics” is the credo of master luthier Hervé R. Chouard. A tone is being perceived as “beautiful” because of the overtones of the many pleasing resonances. My descant rings like a bell.
And, the Fret Mobile has more to offer: the demilunar-shaped fret segments (curseurs) enable precision adjustment of the frets. Meantone tunig is possible. Also, new dimensions in microtonal music can be explored by placing additional frets to the neck (1/4 tones).
Innovative master guitars and master violins
The construction of a classical guitar by the master luthier is based on an idea from 1997.
He compared the top (only high quality spruce, not too finely grained) with the skin of a drum which becomes additionally sensitive with increased tension. Lateral bracing arches the guitar top und results in improved tension.
Inspired by bionics – a leaf of a tree from the rain forest, Hervè R. Chouard managed to achieve extreme rigidity in his construction. The thickness of the top was reduced drastically, which is of essence for sound. The results fulfilled the luthiers expectations: powerful dynamics / a bell-like descant.
DeHervè R. Chouard had experienced that even the best master guitars produced washy tones. They lost their brilliance of tone, and the average life expectancy of such an instrument was limited to about 25 years.
This insight had impact on the construction of new master violins from 2005/06 on. As a result, his violins are characterized a quick response (presence) - something normally only found in old and frequently played instruments.
The D.A.C. Bridge – a revolution in sound
A new idea was conceived in 2008/09. The master luthier experimented with new kinds of violin bridges, resulting in the development of the innovative and brilliant sounding D.A.C. bridge. For mor information and measurement results by the psycho-acoustic faculty of the Bundeswehr University in Munich / Neubiberg, please seeInnovation in violin making: the D.A.C. bridge.