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maandag 5 mei 2008

José Ramirez III clase 1 A 1980 and 1981 / Jose Ramirez II 1945





This 1980 clase 1A model was built by Enrique
Borreguero who's father was a very fine luthier
as well. Very good condition though the fretwork
was worn out. When placing new frets, the
fingerboard will be flattened out keeping in mind that
the upper bass side allways has some give to let the
lower string vibrate freely. Apart from that the
action at the bridge can be corrected for optimal
playability and small damages to the fingerboard
itself can be cured.
 

Both sides and back are remarkably straight grained.
Maybe not that attractive but it helps for optimal
stability of the wood regarding cracks in the future.
 

This label states that between this example and the following
guitar 400 guitars clase 1A have been constructed at the
Ramirez shop. It was booming business in those days.
Apart from the superb sound, most striking detail in comparison
with most other José Ramirez clase 1A guitars is that the sides
in the soundbox are not strenghtened with a layer of cypress
as was common or even partly covered with a rosewood
layer as can be seen on the Camara models. No, this
guitar has been entirely covered with a rosewood layer from
the inside of its' soundbox. So no solid sides but instead
of cypress, rosewood has been used. This message puzzled
Amalia Ramirez as well though she thinks it to be another
experiment executed by her father José Ramirez III.



José Ramirez III clase 1 A (1981)





This eighties Ramirez guitar has been obtained quite
recently. Though it suffered from some humidity damage
its sound was wonderful. Huge volume and the tonal
qualities are exceptional. Beautiful rounded tone for
all frequency registers. You should listen to the Ramirez
guitar on one of the Andres Segovia Youtube movies:
Andres Segovia demonstrates different timbres of the
guitar. The same sounds!


Though the humidity has caused a crack behind the bridge
that was deformed I had to make a device in order to bent
the sides of the crack back. There was enough wood so
after the operation it could easily be glued together.
To my surprise it had a significant effect on the overall
tone production: even better!




For those who are keen on labels: the blue rounded Ramirez label
is a sign of quality and the eighties Ramirez guitars are known
for their sweet voice. This one has been made by
Juan Garcia Ray. Though it bears the number 6 which
stands for Arturo Sanzano. I recently visited the Ramirez
workshop in Madrid where they looked it up for me.
Juan Garcia is no longer member of the workstaff.
There is a site where they give you an explanation of all initials
they used up until 1991. Amalia Ramirez states that
their best instruments aren't allways built by the best craftsmen
as the combination of woods, circumstances while built and
tension between the different parts also attribute to the
final sound result.



Jose Ramirez II guitar (1945)




Presented here is a Jose Ramirez II guitar from 1945.
It is well known there was a shortage of about everything 
just after World War II and the Civil War that ended in 1939.
This example has a spruce top with a seven fan bracing.
Ebonized fingerboard with copper fretwork. Brasilian
rosewood bridge with the well known ornamentation
from that period. Some odd things can be found on
this guitar as it has the bigger Blue / white label normally
found on the higher end student models. But the label
has been signed in blue ink (probably the maker) and
most likely afterwards with "J. Ramirez" done by (???)
Scale length: 650 mm - Length of the body: 477 mm -
Neck width: 50 mm (at top nut) Upper Bout: 255 mm
Waist: 218 mm - Lower bout: 342 mm - Depth: 
Varying from 80 to 90 mm (Bottom)



It is obvious that the soundbox has been built with
Cypress but this guitar lacks the golpeadores found on
a real flamenco guitar. Also the bridge height itself is
that of a classical guitar. This instrument produces a
somewhat dry but sweet and "complete'  sound. Very 
even in all registers. In the book "The Ramirez Collection"
written by Brian Whitehouse there is a sound example
included of a 1946 guitar built by Jose Ramirez III.
This guitar is slightly bigger but has the 50 mm nut
width and a seven fan soundboard strutting as well.
The 1946 guitar has been built with better materials
as on most Ramirez guitars of this time a fairly wide
grained soundboard can be found.



Some people will say: Mahogany veneered but close
inspection learns otherwise: This wood is too fine
grained. The typical head form also found on his
concert models is there and the use of metal rollers
can be a later addition as are the tuners as a whole.
Probably this guitar was fitted with tuning pegs
regarding its' weight. a cedar neck that has been 
executed very good. 


In order to make this instrument playable again I had
to shave the fingerboard a bit towards the head. By
that time it became obvious that the fingerboard had
been ebonized in the past. I matched the color close
to the veneering of the head and placed new frets.
As the original top nut was broken I changed it
with an ivory one and I had to lower it a bit as at
that point the fingerboard had been lowered by
about 2 mm. As the frets are a bit higher now this
guitar plays much better though the width at the
nut could have been a bit more spaced.


I suspect these tuners to be quite old as well. They
still work well but aren't securely mounted. The same thing 
can be said about the restorations on this guitar. And
the question remains: "are they original" as the
thickness of the head varies. So I think this guitar
originally was provided with pegs. These tuners
gave too much problems so I decided to change them 
as well. Schaller tuners have been added now but
being too long for this guitar another extra move
was necessary: The Lyre had to be removed.




These tuners work very well and the original drilled
holes in the head could be reused again. A must!


A simple but gracefully executed rosette. Jose Ramirez II
however will not be remembered as a Rosette maker. 
Some of his guitars even had Rosettes made out of simple 
concentric circles. We have to remember there was a 
shortage of all kinds of materials. This kind of inlay can
also be found on Ramirez guitars of the thirties and even
the following rosette from a Domingo Esteso guitar from
1930 has some similarities.


esteso-1930-rosette

As for labels: The site of Guitarrasramirez speaks of
the white / blue label being used in student models only.
However there are several guitars from the thirties and forties
that have the larger blue label but aren't meant to be student 
guitars. It will probably count for the fifties guitars onwards.


A picture of the bigger blue / white label but signed
anyway. In the middle left the name J Ramirez can
be found but this can be a later addition. The fact that
the signature has been placed partly over the label and the 
wood surrounding it confirms this instrument to be a
genuine Jose Ramirez II. James Greenberg from 
Zavaletas guitars who holds an incredibly inventory
of older classical guitars confirms this big signature
to be from Jose Ramirez III. Hopefully Amalia
Ramirez will confirm it as well in the near future.


Around 1945 there weren't that many luthiers at work
in the Ramirez workshop so maybe we can solve the
mystery about who placed it. The top of this guitar
has been mounted with individual blocks and the 7 fans
are quite small in width (4 mm) and height (3 mm).
Also the seam between the two halves of the back have
been glued together with blocks. Besides the label
this guitar has two stamps: Both near the heel block on
the soundboard and back. Most likely a sign that it has 
been built in Madrid and not in Valencia though the
neck to body construction looks quite Valencia!


Amalia Ramirez states that her father sometimes 
signed the older guitars and then stopped for a while. 
After seeing this picture she states that the signature
does not belong to her father (Jose Ramirez III) but
possibly to her grandfather.


As I already explained this is a Valencian type of neck to
body joint. But it is known that Barbero also constructed
the heels this way. The inner heel however looks entirely 
hardwood to me and the form resembles a lot the thirties 
Santos Hernandez heels.


A comment on the bridge has to be made here as the
form as well as the inlays and the mother of pearl covering 
of the stringblock is pointing towards Ricardo Sanchis 
Nacher. These kind of bridges have been seen on other 
Jose Ramirez II guitars of the forties.

Manuel Romero Macias classical 1995 / Manuel Romero Macias flamenco 1990

Manuel Romero Macias



Manuel Romero Macias is a Sevilla based Guitarreros
and at this moment he is retired and his son took over the
business. The workshop is in Montellana (near Sevilla)
Presented here is a 2 front views of this spruce topped 
guitar. The second picture with new mounted frets.




A nice shot of the sides that shows us Palo Santo the way
you only can find it in the 19th century guitars (chocolate
brown) as opposed to the more common orangy colour they 
provide today. The materials used are premium quality 
but the final touch on this guitar could be better.



This is a recently obtained guitar made by the Sevilla
based luthier Manuel Romero Macias. I never had the
opportunity to try out one of his guitars so it was a buy
in the blind. However, the woods used are that nice
and only the Fustero tuners mounted made it worth to
buy it anyway. Spruce top and Palo Santo used for
sides and back. This guitarreros built his guitars
after Santos Hernandez and used premium materials.


You can see on this picture that the back is a
beautiful piece of Rio and allmost as can be
expected it does match the sides. 



The graceful head of this guitars that has been veneered with
Palo Santo the way he uses it in the sides and back of this
guitar: A perfect match. Strange thing is that the top nut
was a bit too long for its' slot. I made  a new one out of
ivory and did that for the bridge as well.
This builder would be more highly rated as the finishing
of his instruments lets something to be desired for.


A strange move on all of his guitars is the split neck.
So there is a seam in the middle what in fact means
there was more work. It could have been done for
stability reasons as it goes all the way up through the
head. This guitar is provided with a 650 mm scale.


As can be seen on this picture the Fustero tuners.
The Fustero firm is out of business since 2010.
They were located in Barcelona and were famous for
the engrave work done on these tuners and the
superior materials used. They still are available.


Mr. Manuel Romero Macias used a fairly plain label.
which he allways signed with the addition of the month
and year. The interior workmanship is not that high or
immaculate but he focused on sound and that is where
these guitars shine! Though the depth is rather small on
these instruments, the basses are firm and rich. The spruce
top adds enough clarity to the treble strings. The top has 
been handsigned inside. After replacing the frets with
higher and more "substantial" fret wire the tone improved
dramatically. more sustain as also the original fretwork
could have been done better. Manuel Romero Macias
worked together with his son until recently. His son
now has taken over business under his own name: 
Manuel Romero Iglesias.





Manuel Romero Macias (Flamenco)




Presented here is a flamenco model I recently bought.
Someone else picked up this instrument and the Fustero's
were gone: They were not in working order the seller
told so he removed them. A bad way of doing business!
What you are showing in your ad must be there of course!
Manuel Romero Macias is using first grade woods so
the fingerboard is ebony as I hoped for. Still the
frets look a bit odd to me and will be replaced.




The back of this instrument is still in good shape.



And this side too.



I knew about this damage but that can be cured in a better way.
With cypress as a wood it even can be an option to remove one 
half of the guitar. The soundboard has one crack that needs to be
redone as far as I can see. No big deal. Besides that the 
soundboard is still fairly straight.




The typical way of gluing together the two halves of the back
can be seen here. Luckily enough the model is his hand built 
one that answers to his highest standards. And the tone of his
instruments is mostly surprising in any way! As can be expected
a typical flamenco response: quick and dry and a nice addition
to the collection as a whole.

Takeharu GT 500 classical guitar






These Takeharu guitar has been built with the utmost
care and a lot of information can be found on the
internet regarding this brand. Still affordable but
for how long?? Cedar topped and sides and back
are made out of Brazillian rosewood (veneered)



 A picture of the stunning back. Also the ebony reinforcement
can be seen on this picture. Beautiful straight neck!


The head that hasn't got any flaws.

The label that has been signed by star classical guitar
player Yamamoto. The Kiso Suzuki company built
this beautiful instrument. Just take a look at Harmony
Central User reviews to see what owners have to
say and think about their Suzuki or Takeharu.


The sides that beautifully match the back.
1


Hijos de Vicente Tatay



A factory made guitar from Hijos de Vicente Tatay from which
a lot of examples must have been made. The same models were
delivered to the Ramirez company in Madrid. Those guitars can
be recognized having a dark blue label. As one of the former
employees told that apart from the whole bunch of guitars from 
Valencia some bags of rice were delivered as well as there
was shortage of about everything after the civil war and the
second world war. In order to make a decent instrument of it 
I was forced to  redress the frets which were made out of copper
and showed file traces as was common on these student guitars.
The next move is to remove the ugly varnish on the fingerboard.
Now it looks fresh again and feels better though not entirely
original. The insert in the ladder braced soundboard is in fact
exactly in the seam of the two halves. Not even centered.
Another thing to be done was to reshape the roughly
modelled bridge as it came off allready and I wanted to lower
it in order to study the effect of it.


This picture shows us the walnut wood used for back and
sides. The crack in the lower left corner will be repaired
in the near future. No problem fixing that. As for the insert
in the soundboard: It can be brought back into the color of
the surrounding wood with a water based stain.


Shown here is the typical construction found in Valencia
of the neck to body. The lighter wood is the wittnes of it.


The rosette exist of simple concentric circles and some
"higher end"  models show a slightly more decorated one
but the rest of those guitars in fact show the same mediocre
materials. That these guitars sound pretty good has a lot
to do with the resin in the wood that in fact cristallizes over
time and makes the top even more vibrant.
The typical label of the fifties can be studied here.

Thibouville Lamy guitars




Frontview of this small bodied guitar that was
probably manufactured around 1870.
The flowermotif was quite popular at that time
in the collection of this factory that produced fairly
large quantities of all kinds of instruments.




Here's a description about this builder and the connection with
the Mirecourt based famous luthier Aubry-Maire:
Aubry fils is the son of Aubry-Maire, the famous guitar maker of Mirecourt.
He worked in his father’s workshop, then for Jérome-Thibouville-Lamy,
and signed « Aubry Fils ».
He died in 1890, at age 57.
Jérome-Thibouville-Lamy was the most prominent manufacturer of
musical instruments in France.
It was founded around 1730, in la Couture-Boussey,
with the manufacture of wind instruments,
then moved to Mirecourt around 1760 and general
numerous workshop consecrated to violins, guitars,
mandolins, and musical accessories.
The company would experience an immense commercial success
and opened branches in Paris, then London.
It would produce thousands of instruments of quality
that it would export to the entire world.


The famous and very durable EON tuners were fitted on
this instrument. Sound qualities do not seem to be very exceptional to me.
Sides and back were made of brazilian rosewood. The neck of this
particular instrument has been laquered black.
Quality of workmanship proves to be good.


This is a somewhat later Jerome Thibouville Lamy guitar
probably made around 1890 - 1900 though even in
the 1902 catalogues of this firm this model was present.
On Len Verret's site "Early romantic guitars" a
similar model can be seen but without its label.
As it is known that Aubry fils was working for
JTL this guitar can be dated but only if there
are marks in pencil by Aubry fils. I still  have to
investigate. Spruce soundboard. Solid sides but
the back has the softer spruce inner side veneered
with Brazillian rosewood on the outside.
Ebony fingerboard with the original (!) hardly
worn fretwork but a laquered neck and head as
was usual on these instruments.


Even the back is in very good condition and it
is remarkable that there are no cracks in back and front.
The sides tend to have some minor spots but on the
inside the sides are reinforced.


This is the well known flower design that was popular
for a long time. We can see this on an Aubry fils
signed guitar as well as in the 1902 catalogue of JTL.