José Luis Romanillos

José Luis Romanillos Vega

José Luis Romanillos Vega was born in Madrid in 1932 and at thirteen years of age he was apprenticed to a Madrid cabinetmaking firm. In 1956 he moved to England to work in a hospital in Epsom and a few months later to a hospital in London. Five years later he made his first Spanish guitar in London.


In 1970 he set up a workshop as a guitar maker in the village of Semley, Wiltshire, encouraged by the English guitarist Julian Bream. The Romanillos guitars have received recognition from guitarists at an international level as much for their sound as for their aesthetical appearance. The pure sound and the harmonic balance of the strings is what Romanillos has looked for in his quest to produce the subtle “Spanish sound”. The Daily Mail has called him “the Stradivari of the guitar” and the Italian magazine Sei Corde “the most important living stringed instrument maker”.

José Luis Romanillos in his workshop

He has given Courses on Spanish guitar making in numerous countries, also lectures and seminars about the organology of the instrument. He has also given lectures on the history and development of the vihuela de mano and the Spanish guitar. He was a member of the Crafts Council of Great Britain for ten years.


Since 1995 he has lived in Guijosa, a rural district annexed to Sigüenza, in the northern part of the province of Guadalajara, Spain. In 2002, in collaboration with his wife Marian, published a Dictionary in English of stringed musical instrument makers and guitar makers of Spain titled The Vihuela de Mano and the Spanish Guitar.

The Vihuela de Mano and the Spanish Guitar

Antonio de Torres
Making a Spanish Guitar

"Making a Spanish Guitar"