real electric guitar player, you
know? It’s just been added to
my arsenal of techniques. I find
more power in the acoustic
instrument than the electric
instrument. It’s also because
that is what’s happening [with
me] now. I also use electric
sometimes, although I haven’t
recorded with it yet but I have
projects for that.
What type of projects?
You would be surprised. It’s
really the same thing. That one
style, whether I play electric or
acoustic, it doesn’t really change
much because I play the acoustic really like an electric player.
But with the acoustic technique
I give out as much power as,
say, a Les Paul through an amp
Do you feel that your technical
approach changes when moving from acoustic to electric?
It doesn’t really change because
once your technique gets better
you have ways to make the guitar ring in a very different way.
You can use the sympathetic
ringing of the guitar, which is a
type of control that’s a bit more
advanced. That is something I
couldn’t do before so even when
I am playing a distorted guitar,
I use the sympathetic vibration
of the other strings and it makes
the sound bigger.
Do you use a Django-style
It was completely inspired by
Django and playing the oud.
Can you explain how that
It’s not only the right hand but
also the left hand. The right
hand doesn’t exist all by itself.
You can’t really talk about one
without the other. Basically,
the thing is you have to press
hard with the left hand on the
strings—that’s very important.
You have to make sure to put
When luthier Bob Holo first met Stephane Wrembel,
the idea of creating a guitar for the picker hadn’t
crossed his mind. But then the two spent a night
talking about tone and inspiration. “That guitar
wouldn’t exist without guys like Stephane. I met
Stephane, Adrien Moignard, Mathieu Chatelain, and
Gonzalo Bergara at a festival in Boston in the mid-
2000s and it really seemed as if they were starting a
rebirth of this music in a ‘new school,’ so to speak,”
remembers Holo. Due to this original approach,
Holo decided to create the “Nouveau” model, while
also taking some of Wrembel’s advice to heart.
“He was moving more and more toward the
acoustic side and we had a long talk one night,” Holo explains. “He told me, ‘Bob,
don’t live in the shadow of Django, live in the light of Django. He would want it that
way.’ It’s easy to forget that with the familiarity of his music these days and the post-bop/acid/atonal jazz that has come since, but back when Django was playing his
music, it was way out there.” The idea stuck with Holo, who was deep into studying
the guitars of some of the early master builders.
After analyzing some of the builders who moved from Italy to France in the 1930s—
such as Busato, DiMauro, and Bucolo—Holo learned that they had taken inspiration
from romantic guitar builders from the previous century. “They cut their teeth in Italy
building budget guitars for various companies and then they came to France to build
their names, inspired by political freedom and the birth of jazz,” says Holo.
Holo was not only looking at the established masters of the craft for guidance, he
also talked with many young artists to see what they seek in a Gypsy-style guitar. “As
I talked with these incredible guitarists, they’d always say something like, ‘Oh Bob, I
played this [vintage maker] and it was so beautiful. It had this [element of tone] and it
had that [characteristic of attack or decay] and I was in love, but it was just so hard to
play and in the end I’m not sure that the tone would fully translate to modern work.’
Throughout all of this I kept hearing Stephane’s voice: ‘Light of Django ... innovate.’”
The finished version of Wrembel’s Nouveau sports a Western red cedar top with
the back and sides containing a layered mixture of Honduran rosewood, walnut, and
mahogany. Holo went with a 670 mm scale length and stuck with the Honduran rose-
wood for the fretboard. The guitar was set up with Argentine Savarez .010 strings, but
just like Django, he switches out the first string for a .011.
With a background in sound and design, Holo began the journey to understand
BOB HOLO ON
why these old guitars sounded like they did. He also wanted to incorporate the ideas
that modern players were asking for. “I kept building and taking them to festivals and
getting feedback,” says Holo. “One year I asked Mathieu Chatelain for his feedback
and he said, ‘Here’s my feedback: How much do you want for it?’ My jaw must have
dropped because he started laughing and said, ‘You should have seen the look on
your face just then, but I’m totally serious. How much?’”
Holo opened shop in the Pacific Northwest soon after, and new-school Gypsy
players began knocking down his door. “It has been a real-life epiphany working with
them to give them the kind of tool they want. It’s incredibly gratifying work.” For more
information on Holo’s guitars, visit hologuitar.com.