OUR HISTORY IS GUITAR HISTORY
How Albert Augustine Developed the Modern Classical String and Changed the Art of the Guitar
Albert Augustine was a Danish immigrant guitar enthusiast, and burgeoning luthier. He was also a founding member of The New York Society for the Classic Guitar, the first organization to present serious classical guitar concerts in New York City, and the publisher of a prestigious journal called Guitar Review. In the 1940s, it was more difficult than ever to source quality strings, which at the time were made of animal gut (sheep, mostly). Beyond the inconsistency of strings composed of organic materials, their usage as field sutures during the war effort made them extremely scarce. Particularly confounded by this lack of good strings was
Andrés Segovia, the Spanish virtuoso whose efforts to elevate the guitar from the parlor to the concert stage had made him an international sensation.“From my earliest childhood - and I feel as though I must have been playing the guitar before I was born - I was handicapped by the brittleness of the strings that were then available; and as I grew in years and experience, I found myself more and more irritated…” -
Vladimir Bobri, illustrator and editor of Guitar Review, introduced Segovia to Albert, who’d been stringing his guitars with fishing line made out of a new synthetic material developed by the DuPont company. DuPont saw little potential in using this product, which they called nylon, for the application of guitar strings. For Albert and Andrés, it opened up a new world of possibility.
Albert grinded and honed DuPont’s nylon monofilament in his basement, refining trebles through countless conversations with Segovia. More challenges awaited in the development of bass strings composed of a core nylon multifilament “thread” that Albert wound in metals ranging from gold to aluminum before he and Segovia agreed that silver produced the most “noble sound.”
Albert’s strings resounded in Segovia’s concerts across the globe, causing a fervor amongst guitarists in need of their own durable, reliable, brilliant strings. Before long, the players that would begin to shape the art of the guitar as it came to be known in the 20th century - from Segovia, to Olga Coelho, to the Abreu Brothers, to a young English prodigy named Julian Bream - were all playing Augustine Strings.”
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