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Perlman Guitars
Perlman Classical • Cedar Top • Brazilian Rosewood Sides & Back

Photos | Prices | Woods | Necks | Fretboard | Tuners | Ordering

The classical guitar has been a life long passion for me. In the words of Julian Bream "And when you think about it, it really is extraordinary that out of some old bits of wood glued together, plus some bits of animal gut for strings, you can actually touch people's hearts…Unbelievably simple, yet immensely powerful within it's simplicity."

My central goal is to create an instrument through which the player can fully express the delicate nuances, the fullest range of tonal expression, a guitar that will not falter from whisper quiet passages through the most demanding powerful ones.

The modern classical guitar repertoire requires a broad and complex tonal and dynamic palette, coupled with a nearly indefinable quality of soulfulness, of magic. A guitar lacking these qualities is unthinkable to me; such a guitar would never leave my shop.
Though I will not hesitate to use innovative techniques and materials if they were to truly improve the guitar, there are certain traditional elements that allow for the best possible tone. One of these is the Spanish foot, a design that integrates the neck and internal block as one single element, highly refined in size and shape.

The other is a French polish finish on the soundboard. This finish seems to be superior acoustically. It is also somewhat fragile. Therefore, I prefer to use a thin lacquer finish on the rest of the guitar.

A string length of 650MM is standard. String lengths of 640MM down to 615MM are optional and can create an exquisite sounding guitar. Standard string spacing is 43MM; other spacings are optional.

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Each guitar is custom built for the individual owner. The following prices are guidelines.

6 String Classical:

Indian Rosewood: $8,500
Brazilian rosewood: $13,000.00 or more, depending on wood selection.

11 String Baroque: $8,500

Birdseye maple: $8,750

A good quality arched hardshell case is included. Flight cases such as Calton are available at additional cost.

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BACK AND SIDE WOODS: I primarily use East Indian rosewood and Brazilian rosewood for backs and sides.

I view the back as a resonant element as well as a reflective surface and determine wood selection, thickness and bracing accordingly. As such, the East Indian and Brazilian rosewoods have fundamental differences in tone, each having different strong points. The Brazilian (a note on Brazilian follows) produces a strident, powerful guitar with a clear “edge” to the tone. While it responds well in the quiet passages, it responds extraordinarily well to a powerful attack, producing a superb concert hall instrument. I am especially speaking of the old growth rosewood- I am working with 50 year old sets. The newly available Brazilian, while some approaches the quality of the old, much of it is inferior, as visually attractive as it may be.

The Indian rosewood imparts a rounder, warmer sound, capable of an equal range of expression but with a less strident quality. The guitars of both species are best played side by side to appreciate the differences. Cost issues aside, many of my clients prefer the Indian rosewood, others the Brazilian. Both produce superb guitars.

African blackwood produces a wonderful, rich bright tone. It is like the best of the best Brazilian and paired with appropriate bindings and purfling, makes an exquisite, quite dramatic looking instrument. I often use highly figured birdseye maple for baroque and other early style guitars. It is both visually and acoustically well suited for these instruments.

SOUNDBOARD: I primarily use European spruce from the mountains of Switzerland. I have a large supply of the highest grade, truly wonderful material. Occasionally I'll use Italian spruce or Western red cedar, depending on your tonal requirements.

NECKS: Aged Honduras mahogany or Spanish cedar.

FRETBOARD: Black Gabon ebony.

TUNERS: Sloane tuners are standard. Others are available as an option.

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ORDERING: After establishing your requirements and preferences through discussion and my hearing you play, in person or through a recording, we will finalize the design and delivery date of your guitar. A deposit of $500.00 will be required before I commence building; the balance at completion, before delivery.

I have always given clients the option of returning the guitar if they are truly not pleased with it. I am glad to say that no one has ever availed themselves of this option. In the event of return, the client will be responsible for shipping and any damage that occurred while the guitar was in their possession.

My guitars are warranted against all defects for one year. The environment in which they are built is stringently humidity and temperature controlled. They have toured the world in extreme climates without problems. This is an area where many years of experience have shown how to build a guitar which is lightly built, responsive, yet durable.


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Alan Perlman

Tel: 415-242-4457 • Email:

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