Eugenio Ligato: a guitar in my hands

Post by Italian Stories | from our book MANI

Many people that walk into my shop ask me whether I am the one who builds the musical instruments on display. “Yes, I do it,” I reply. Yet I often read uncertainty in their eyes. In fact, the following question is almost always: “How?”

I grew up in a house with few musical instruments but full of music. When I first embraced a guitar I was 16 years old, and I felt so grateful and fulfilled that I promised myself that I would never do without all that beauty.

When I had just finished high school I came across the “Civica Scuola di Liuteria di Milano” (Civic School of Violin Making in Milan), and there I began my journey into the world of violin making. I learned to maintain a balance between traditional craftsmanship and the implementation of machinery to optimize production time.

Right after graduating I returned to Cosenza, where the ups and downs of self-employment flooded me with a load of sleepless nights and projects to finish in my shop.

Today my guitar shop is my world. I spend days immersed in the scent of the wood, which I always request of highest quality. It is in fact the “raw material” that makes a handmade musical instrument special, and choosing the right wood, piece by piece, is one of the most beautiful parts of my work.

When I introduce myself to the people who come to visit me I explain that being a luthier is not a hobby but a real job where you have no room to improvise: initially, you need a guide to teach you how to “tirar di scalpello” (hold and pull a chisel), but also how to acknowledge the different types of wood, the chemistry, the physics and, not least, the history.

Then I explain that the luthier is, first and foremost, a craftsman but also a botanist, a carpenter, a physicist, a chemist and an engineer. All this, however, must be moved by one single word: “passion”.