The history of the Spanish guitar is full of grand characters and masters. The Spanish guitar and Spanish guitar style of playing have become well-known throughout the globe, but it is in Spain where we find the best guitars and of course the most talented and emblematic ‘maestros’ or in English; masters.
Over the last few centuries, "Pequeño Tratado para Guitarra Española de Cinco Órdenes", by Juan Carlos Amat: "Introducción a la Música sobre Guitarra Española", by Gaspar Sanz; and "Nuevo método para guitarra", by Francisco Moretti have swollen the reputation of this art across all borders influencing new generations to use aspects of Spanish guitar in their strumming, plucking, carriage (portamento) and vibrato.
To create a list of all the Spanish guitar masters would be a lengthy and difficult task, but just by looking at today’s artists we can pick out 5 players who are very important and the key influencers of their art.
Paco de Lucía (1947-2014). The master that most people have heard of. Paco took flamenco around the world. This gypsy composer and guitar player is considered to be the greatest of all the masters with a technique and flare that is unparalleled. Paco has been awarded two Latin Grammies (2004 and 2010). He was also awarded the Prince Phillip of Asturias art award in 2004.
Andrés Segovia (1893-1987). Considered as the father of the modern style of Spanish guitar. Andrés was a marvel on the strings with flurried fast movements that were like nothing ever seen before. This self-taught genius left behind many new techniques that went on to shape the sound of the Spanish guitar in the 20th century, and as it is now recognized by listeners around the world. The chords and style of playing that Andrés perfected helped the acoustics and amplification of the sound.
Raimundo Amador (1959). This composer and guitar player from Seville is the next step in the evolution of Spanish guitar, he was one of the first to open up the ‘Spanish’ sound to more contemporary influences such as Rock and Blues. Amador has worked with an eclectic range of artists including BB. King and Bjork. Raimundo is a demonstration of just how international the sound of Spain has become.
Narciso Yepes (1927-1997). Not happy with just 6 chords, Narciso will always be remembered for his guitar that had 10 strings. This maestro from Murcia in the south of Spain had a unique style that blended elements of baroque music that could be more easily represented on the greater range of tonality found on a 10 string instrument similar to a lute or a harpsichord.
Iñaki Antón (1964). Known to most people as "Uoho". Iñaki is one of the leading Rock guitarists in Spain. Iñaki is at the forefont of Spanish rock by sharing his art and the stage with Spanish super groups such as El Extinto Platero, Tú and Extremoduro.
Of course there are many more we could mention, here are a few that didn’t make our top 5 but are definitely worth checking out on youtube: Tomatito, Ramón Sanlúcar, Vicente Amigo, Luis Salinas, Fito Cabrales, Moraíto, Paco Cepero, Pepe Habichuela, Parrilla de Jerez…
If you want to see dazzling technique, exquisite fingering, flare, passion and soul, Spanish maestros are the guitarists to watch.