Thursday, September 10, 2009

Update on Andrés Segovia's guitar

Following my previous post on the lore of acoustic guitars, my old Maine-based friend Lance Gunderson, an expert himself on the guitar (Flamenco and classical in particular) has sent in the following clarification of the master guitarist's instrument, with links I've added where appropriate:

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Segovia played Hermann Hauser instruments at the mid-career point....up until around 1960, when his current Hauser II developed a mysterious internal buzz. Since he was in Spain at the time, he took the guitar to José Ramírez III to be (hopefully) repaired. Ramírez said he could not fix it, but while it was in his posession he studied it carefully and took measurements. Shortly after that Ramírez produced the now famous 1A Clasico, first in spruce but later in Western red cedar, which had not been used for guitar tops until then. Maestro Segovia quickly embraced these new Ramírez guitars and never played a Hauser again. He donated it, along with his first Manuel Ramírez guitar, to the Metropolitan Museum in NYC (for a healthy tax deduction).

In the late 1970's Segovia very briefly flirted with a guitar from the Barcelona builder Ignacio Fleta, but this guitar also developed an internal buzz which Segovia said could not be fixed, and he never played it again, reverting back to instruments from Ramírez III, which he played exclusively right up until the end in 1987.

Segovia usually traveled with two new Ramírez III instruments. At the end of a tour he would exchange them with Ramirez for new and different ones. Today the Ramírez shop, now run by daughter Amalia (the only surviving family member), proudly displays a cabinet full of Ramírez guitars said to have been played by Segovia.

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Thank you, Lance. And readers, be sure to see the delightful and highly informative long video of the Ramírez shop and its construction of guitars on the Ramírez Webpage.

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