Marija Temo Model

See Video clips- Marija Temo with ASO- Concierto del Fuego- CNN Interview with Temo, Loris Chobanian (Composer), and Tom Rodriguez (Luthier)

Classical Guitar Magazine Article 2012

See photos and read about the Marija Temo Model and how to order one.

2008 Marija Temo Model and the new changes.

Marija Temo Model
flamenco/classical hybrid™

To place an order for your own Marija Temo Model, contact Tom Rodriguez at Each of the Model’s will include my signature on the label.

The “Marija Temo” Model is a hybrid flamenco and classical guitar which Tom Rodriguez, luthier, and myself designed together.  We started the process to make the hybrid around 1999, and in 2003 it was achieved. I had this idea for years to be able to play both flamenco and classical techniques on one guitar because I not only had been equally playing both styles but began to merge them where I easily flow from one to the other.  Guitar and orchestra repetoire written for me and my own compositions and arrangements started to necesitate a guitar that could accommodate both styles.

The hybrid guitar successfully combines and balances both flamenco and classical features in a single guitar. It is extremely loud, and has a bright and passionate tone when used for flamenco. The action is low enough to facilitate effortless right-hand flamenco strumming techniques, and yet is high enough to enable the warm, beautiful quality of the notes to be sustained and heard clearly when classical music is played. The craftsmanship and the consistency of these guitars are superb.

It has taken several attempts to develop and refine a guitar that embodies classical as well as flamenco qualities, and that is representative of both styles. I am overjoyed to be playing an instrument that allows me to combine the two styles without limitations or compromises. It is a joy to converse with my instrument and discover what it has to say.

2008 Marija Temo Model

Tom is always striving to make improvements. The 2008 Marija Temo Model made special for me in April 2008, is a cedar top with an indian rosewood back. The binding is made of maple, and the rosette is made of amboyna (a natural red wood). Personally, I wanted a rosette that would represent flamenco, which for me is a red, passionate color. In addition he has added a soundport which makes you feel as if you are playing in stereo, and it also projects extra sound to the audience. He apparently has also changed the way he is going about bracing the guitar and with these latest changes, I hear an enormous amount of sound projecting from the instrument. It is like playing in surround sound. After playing a Spruce top for many years, it was very exciting and interesting to play a cedar top guitar.


Video Interviews

See You Tube clip of Marija Temo with ASO- Concierto del Fuego- CNN Interview with Temo, Loris Chobanian (Composer), and Tom Rodriguez (Luthier)

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2012 Article

Classical Guitar Magazine- April 2012 Issue
Letter from New York


AKRON. OHIO native Marija Temo is a flamenco guitarist who has been working with luthier Tom Rodriguez to create a hybrid classical-flamenco model guitar. In addition to writing a forthcoming flamenco method book for Mel Bay which will feature her unique notation system for reading flamenco rhythms. Her third CD will be released later this year featuring works for guitar in the flamenco/classical style with solo flamenco vocal and guitar arrangements of popular Latin American songs. She was the featured artist in an award-winning television commercial for GE Capital and Taylor Guitars that had her serve as a flamenco-playing body double for GE Capital sales executive Deb Barker.

Temo received her Masters degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she studied with Manuel Barrueco. She is a former faculty member of the Preparatory at the Peabody Institute Johns Hopkins University where she founded the flamenco guitar program. Composer Loris Chobanian, who she studied with at the Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music, wrote his Tango Fantasy for guitar and orchestra and his guitar concerto Concierto del Fuego for her.

Temo had been hoping to find a guitar suitable for playing both flamenco and classical guitar without the burden of travelling with two guitars. When self-taught luthier Tom Rodriguez asked her for feedback several years ago on one of his first flamenco guitars, they began collaborating to see if it was possible to build her dream hybrid guitar. One of the challenges had been to create String action capable of sustained, resonating notes for classical music while remaining low enough in action to allow for ease for flamenco strumming techniques without any residual buzzing. The other goal had been to create a guitar capable of powerful projection, including notes played in the upper bout. After five years of various trial efforts. Rodriguez succeeded in creating a classical/flamenco guitar hybrid that met with Temo’s approval and it is trademarked as ‘The Marija Temo Model flamenco/classical hybrid.’

Rodriguez points out, ‘Possibly the biggest challenge I faced as a maker on this project was to get the sound we wanted with the low bridge. By tapering the fingerboard almost 3mm from the nut to the soundboard, I was able to obtain the action Marija was looking for. Having a low bridge was more of a problem to overcome. It is simple physics- the taller the bridge, the more tension it

Tom Rodriguez and Marija Temo

creates on the soundboard-the better the guitar sounds. At first I overcame this by making the rim of the guitar as stiff as possible so more of the string energy could be transferred to the bridge. Ultimately, I gave up on fan bracing and developed my own bracing to help the top respond more freely. There are many builders making flamenco negras (flamenco guitars with rosewood backs and sides) intended to get more of a classical sound, but they still have a raspy quality to the sound and string buzzing when played hard. Other makers were using stair step saddles that permit raising and lowering the action for the type of music you want to play. The problem with this is that you cannot play both styles during the same piece. You’d have to stop, move the strings and retune.’

Temo had been asked to audition for a Taylor Guitar television commercial and had been asked to play fast scale passages, which she developed into various flamenco-style samples. The entire audition process took over one and a half weeks. Temo also was asked provide her measurements, shoe and dress size, with the news that if she was the guitarist selected for the commercial, she would be playing the body double guitar performer for GE Capital’s Distribution and Sales Manager, Deb Barker, who works with Taylor Guitars as her client. The commercial shows Barker touring the Taylor guitar factory.

At one point, she picks up a guitar and plays it as if she is a professional flamenco player. Computer technology essentially allowed Barker’s head to replace Temo’s in order to make it appear that Barker was the guitar player.

‘My one concern, however.’ Temo says, ‘is that I felt fairly confident that Taylor Guitars did not make classical or flamenco guitars so I was concerned that I would not be able to play the music on a steel string.’ Temo informed the producers that she could play any nylon string guitar.

The following day, at 3pm, I was told I needed to fly out that same evening to Los Angeles. I dropped everything and went. They flew me in first class and picked me up in a limo with a driver-quite a different lifestyle from what a working flamenco/classical guitarist experiences from day to day!’

Temo was asked to come up with both 6 and 12-second versions of the scales she had performed for the final audition. The Taylor guitar she was given to play had been a hybrid nylon string guitar, which Temo describes as having a steel string body with nylon strings. The shoot took place at the Taylor Guitar Factory in El Cajon, California, where 500 guitars are manufactured daily. Because the right hand action was very high, she requested for it to be lowered as much as possible. ‘I learned then that Bob Taylor had invented what he calls the NT or New

Technology neck, which is a bolt-on neck that allows for a straighter, more stable guitar neck. It is a separate and detachable neck where shims can be placed at the joint and the action can be easily adjusted without having to replace the saddle or bridge.’ Temo says.

The next issue to contend with had been Temo’s Triple Star Nittaku ping-pong bail nails. ‘They were not camera-friendly’, she says, ‘and had to be dulled because of the concern about the bright white of the ping-pong nails creating a glare. I was hesitant but agreed to having pink matte-colored nail polish applied. Unfortunately, the polish was too thick and, after more attempts of applying and removing various polishes, this started to dissolve the ping-pong ball part of my nails.

‘I had to put a stop to all the applications so I could make a new set of nails, a process which would take me at least 4 hours with filing and adjustments. The GE Capital Executive, Deb Barker, agreed to turn her beautifully French-manicured nails into a version of mine. A manicurist took one look at my nails and

said, ‘How ugly!’ and I had to explain to her that my nails were shaped this way for me to play my best- and that if I changed anything, it would throw off my playing. I became quite the talk in the make-up room, as a result. Deb Barker was a gem for cooperating to have her oval white nails reshaped with disproportioned angles!’

Marija Temo

The shoot started at 5:30am and my first task was to record the two music scales in an office room where sound equipment had been set up. By early afternoon, I had to dress as Deb Barker but with my hair pulled up and green dots placed upon my neck so the technical wizards would know where to splice my head off after filming to replace it with Deb’s head. On the set, I had to figure out the best way to hold the guitar- whether to use a flamenco or classical position.

‘The Taylor guitar had a cutaway design and it weighed much more than a normal classical or flamenco guitar. I decided to sit in a classical position because of the comfortable familiarity and stability it gave me. The director asked if I could make the riff longer. I decided in that moment that this was my chance to put in some typically characteristic flamenco rasqueados and I played that scale every couple of seconds from 2:00pm to 10:00pm as the sound guys tried to hook me up during the filming in order to record this new riff. Also, the director shot from many different angles so I just had to play as consistently as possible. My work was finally finished by a round 7:00pm, yet I was called back immediately to ask if I could coach Deb Barker on my head movements when I had played the riff. I was not even aware that I had been moving my head when I was playing.

‘They put a piece of plywood in Deb’s hands to have her act as if she was playing the guitar and I called out instructions to her on how to move her head. She was trying to get that flamenco confident look at the end and we had so much fun. I still laugh thinking about it. When the set cleared at midnight, Bob Taylor invited me to hang out afterword and catch a bite to eat. He plays a part in the commercial, speaking the line, ‘I didn’t know you could play like that!’

‘When I flew back home I received a call explaining that they couldn’t get a good sound take from the factory. So I was asked to fly to New York and record the riff again, but this time playing entirely new scale passage.’ The same number of notes had to fit the timing of the previous scale and I did not like the idea of different notes being played against the filmed version of my playing. The good news is that the creative director decided they would like me to play throughout the entire commercial from beginning to end. After a few days of rehearsing the material, I learned that the director decided he wanted me to play the original scale that I played on the set in California. I recorded this in New York and the agency edited the film so that the scale I composed that sounded like a nervous doodle riff was placed at the end of the commercial. In January of 2011, this commercial received an award at NAMM for being the top television commercial in the music industry. I am grateful and proud to have been a part of the process and I enjoyed working with everyone involved.’(The GE Capital / Taylor Guitar commercial can be found under ‘Unique Collaborations: The success of this commercial and the filming experience has stoked Bob Taylor’s interest in considering the idea of creating his own line of classical guitars.

Further information/links:

Photos of Marija Temo and Tom Rodriguez for Classical Guitar Magazine: Tony Ventouris

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