Favino - a name with sound for all friends of the Swing Tsigane.

Jacques Favino, the "old" Favino, built many years for the Crème de la crème of Gipsy jazz. All kinds of players ranked among his customers. His Selmer copies can be heard on uncountable tracks . Their warm and soft tone found many inspired lovers. But not only Jazzers were his customers, also guitarist of other style directions played Favino. George Brassens for example, for whom his own model was designed. Jean Pierre Favino has it until today in the program. Jean-Pierre Favino, the "young" Favino, has learned the art of his father . For many years he operated on the side of his father in the workshop at Rue de Clignancourt 9, at the bottom of the Montmartre. This is where and how he could gather the experience and knowledge of his father and extend and supplement with his own ideas. Jean-Pierre left the workshop at the the Montmartre, and established in a small place in the south of France, near the Pyrenees. We drove to Castelbiaque, were we visited him and had a small conversation with him. Potential customers however must not necessarily drive to Southern France - Jean Pierre can monthly be found in Paris at the end of each month for three days. NEW address: 31 Rue Reuilty, metro Reuilty-Didot.
Jean Pierre, please tells us something about your career as Luthier.
I started in the workshop of my father with holidays work. Polishing guitars, prepare for transport, completing smaller work. After 1 or 2 years I also started to participate in the building of guitars. There were 4 people in the workshop: my father, a brother of my father, an employee and I. I loved the classical guitar. So, first I started to build body's for classical Guitars. My father gradually taught me everything. With a lot of patience. I was also allowed to make errors. From errors one learns, he tended to say. I was very impatient, wanted to be able to do everything immediately . That was between ' 73 and '75. I also played classical guitar, and then also built complete instruments. Then I began to be interested in Folkmusic, and I started to built Folkguitars. At the beginning of the 80's, I began to build jazz guitars . I had much time to explore the different kind of guitars. I am very grateful to my father that he let me try out everything extensively. I could study the various designs as well. I also owe very much to the other coworkers in the workshop - I learned a lot of them. Off course, I had personal ideas, and it is not always easy to carry out personal ideas if you work in a team . My father and my uncle stopped in 1978. From 1983 I was alone in the Rue de Clignancourt 9. Since then I started to work with my own ideas.

Jean-Pierre at his workshop in Castelbiaque.

You have an Italian name. Is there already a longer tradition of instrument making in your family?

My father and my mother are born in Italy, however they came already as small children to France. Only my father started the tradition. Before there was no instrument maker in my family. Before he came to build a guitar he had various jobs, for example also as a carpenter. During the war he was working for 2 years obligation workers in arms operation in Germany. After the war he worked for a short time as a turner in France.

One of his brothers was working at an instrument maker named Busato. My father also entered there. He made banjo necks. With him also was an other violin maker working, Jean Chauvet. Chauvet proposed to my father to learn him to build violins because he saw that he did his thing good. After work Chauvet instructed at his house my father how to build violins. They opened a violin construction industry together in 1946. In an old chicken house, in an Paris suburb, they began to build violins and basses . In the beginning of the fifties they moved into the Rue de Clignancourt. There they operated together for then years, then they divorced themselves. When they formed the business into the 40's, my father already soon became interested in building of guitars. Chauvet remained with violins and basses.

When did your father start to copy the famous Selmer guitars?

In the 50's, bout 1954, '55. He already built Archtops before.

Your father did not simply build a copy of the Selmer.

No! He has always refused to copy Selmer totally. He wanted to build a guitar with personal tone, for personal sound. A " Favino " evenly. That is also my job. Naturally it also depends on the customer - he is king. As a guitar maker one has sufficient experience on the sound used to take. The personal contact to the customer is very important, in order to build the correct guitar for him. My father always said tome" the musician customers teaches you how to build a guitar". Without musicians we cannot build, without an instrument the musician can not play.

You are not in Paris anymore, but live and build here in Castelbiague, in the Pyrenees.

As a child I always spend the holidays on the country side- I love the land life. The animals, air, the sun. Here I feel absolute connected with life. But 3 days in the month I am to find in of Paris - always at the end of the month.

Which of your models do you build at most?

The Selmer copy! In the 70's mostly Folkmodels. My father, by the way, built the first 12-string guitars in France. His first was for Hugues Auffray, a chansonier.

You equip your model Jazz only with " Argentine" strings. Why?

They are the correct strings for this guitar. They already were on the original Selmer. Selmer had asked Savarez (string firm) at that time to manufacture strings for their guitar. If someone would like to play stronger strings, he must say it to me, then I have to make the top accordingly thicker. Otherwise the top will sink and the guitar loses tone.

How are your guitars best maintained?

I believe that it is necessary that each guitarist owes a hygrometer . The air humidity should be between 50% and 60%. The instrument should never be put near a heat source or into a hot car. Also humidity harms. Generally one can say: " where humans feel well, the guitar also feels well'. You should not leave the guitar in the suitcase, the instrument needs air, the wood wants to breathe. Industrial guitars react differently to such effects , because the woods are not naturally dried. For the tone of the guitar it is very important that it is played frequently. Against dryness you can put a sponge in a perforated plastic bag and store it into the string container . Against humidity the same with rice in the plastic bag. It absorbs the humidity. Most important: Leave repairs only to an specialist!

Merci, Jean Pierre! A lot of success further and... a bientôt!

Adres - Les Gaouats 31160 Castel Biague France Tel :

As told to Bernard Gierstl. Published in #2 of Hot Club News 1992
Translated and edited by John Friedrichs. (Both Favino players)