Saturday, January 23, 2016

Olivier Planchon: Luthier

 Not long ago we had the privilege of having a visit from Olivier and Karine, who Monsieur and I are pleased to claim as long time French friends.  

 Recently both artists of this couple have consolidated their studios to the nearby town of Contes in the Alpes Maritime, an art loving village whose mayor welcomed them by offering a beautiful rustic farmhouse (mas) owned by the city that Karine and Olivier bought and are continuing to renovate.

  My friend, Patrick was kind enough to gather a posse of pals to go visit Contes for Karine's studio open house.  I will do a post on both of these artists.   Let's visit Olivier's studio first.

Back of the old house showing the animal pens , photo by Mary M Payne

A new angle on an old by Mary M. Payne

Newly created steps and hand crafted door to entry to Olivier's Studio     photo by Mary M Payne

Olivier Planchon is a luthier by profession.  For his work as a stringed instrument maker,  he has already been awarded the Finest Artisan in France  (Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 2007) as a maker of instruments that have a recognizable sound......and he hasn't even been at it for that long. 
In a former life, Olivier and Karine lived in Paris where he was an art director in advertising.  They dreamed of leaving that life and starting out in a entirely new field away from the city. 

 Olivier made his first guitar following the instructions of a book and showed it to Daniel Lesueur,  a classic "luthier" who was impressed and offered to became Olivier's guide and instructor.  

  Now Olivier specializes in making handmade concert guitars  and "ouds"( he is holding the beginnings of one in the photo below) for professional musicians and passionate amateurs.  It takes about a year to painstakingly construct an instrument. ... Olivier spending 150-200 hours for each instrument he builds.

Olivier Planchon photo by Nice Panorama

Studio of Olivier Planchon   photo by Mary M Payne

Atelier of Olivier Planchon   photo by Mary M Payne

Atelier de Olivier Planchon    photo by Mary M Payne

"Utiles" de Olivier Planchon   photo by Mary M Payne

Body of an Oud made by Olivier Planchon by Mary M Payne

Wood carving tools, studio Olivier Planchon, Contes   photo by Mary M. Payne

M. Planchon is particularly proud of the "finish" ( varnishes and decoration) of his instruments and continues to work towards improving the sound of each one.   Musicians claim appreciation for the quality of his instruments ("good dynamic, powerful, very balanced, very comfortable") and especially the quite recognizable sound that emanates from a Planchon instrument.

The marquetry from specialized woods and the finishes Olivier uses make these guitars beautiful as well as functional.  Each time a new instrument is christens he has had the pleasure of creating a different "rose window" to signal the exclusivity of the instrument. 

If you are hankering for a handmade guitar or oud... it will come to 3500 euros for an Oud and 5000-8000 euros for a handmade guitar.  You will then own an exceptional work of art.

565, avenue Borriglione06390 Contes - FranceTel: +33 (0) 6 11 62 25 85postmaster@olivierplanchon.comOlivier Planchon Website:

No comments:

Post a Comment