Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 68
COLUMN Guitars with Guts
The Manuel Ramírez shop circa 1912. Domingo Esteso is second from
the right, and in the storefront window is the famous 11-string 1912
Manuel Ramírez guitar made for Antonio Giménez Manjón and
was later gifted to Andrés Segovia as a converted six-string.
By R.E. Bruné
n nearly 25 years of its existence, the name Domingo
Esteso has been largely absent from my writings in this
column. In July, 2004, I wrote about La Maravilla, the
iconic 1923 flamenco that belonged to Ramon
Montoya, but Esteso instruments have
otherwise been conspicuously absent,
though not by intention.
This month, we'll consider a beautifully preserved example made in 1926
by Esteso, who along with Santos
Hernández was among the best working in Madrid in the first half of the
20th century. Part of the famous Shel
Urlik collection, it's featured in the
new second edition of his book, A
Collection of Fine Spanish Guitars
From Torres to the Present.
Esteso was born circa 1882
in Cuenca, and by age 18 had
moved to Madrid, where he
found employment at the
Manuel Ramírez workshop,
which, by the turn of the
century, was the largest and
most important for high-quality guitars and other instruments. In the
Ramírez shop, orders were filled by various makers according to skill
level, with Esteso in charge of the second tier, price-wise; Santos was
given the most-expensive and custom orders, while Ramírez sometimes
used a special label to indicate his personal involvement.
As independent contractors, each maker in the Ramírez shop was
provided a bench and the materials, but owned and maintained their
own hand tools. As a result, we can often identify the specific maker of
an instrument labeled "Manuel Ramírez" by their distinctive tool marks.
Additionally, each maker was responsible for making and maintaining
their own glue pot, so glue evidence is also useful in identifying a maker.
This instrument was made long after Esteso left the Ramírez shop and
established his own, at Gravina 7, Madrid. Because Esteso was well-known