Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 74
COLUMN Guitars with Guts
they worked quickly and without fussing over inconsequential details
like glue drips and minor gaps in mortises. Surfaces were finished-out
with hand scrapers, sandpaper was rare and expensive, and far from
the quality we enjoy today. To survive, a typical maker had to knock
out a guitar per week.
Despite the small size (which has little to do with musical quality when
it comes to well-made guitars) and modest appearance, this instrument
is a powerhouse of volume and tone. A paragon of proportional elegance,
nothing about it is out of place, and when viewed from afar it does not
betray its size.
Esteso died in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. With no children
of his own, he trained his nephew, Faustino Conde, who in turn trained
his two brothers, Mariano and Julio, and the three founded the Conde
Hermanos brand that is today known the world over. Esteso's widow
continued to run the shop into the 1960s, typical of how widows survived
in a time before government-funded social security.
Surviving instruments by Esteso are rare today in reasonably original
condition, not for lack of output but more because they were so wellregarded and heavily used. This is one of the survivors.
Richard Bruné began making guitars in 1966 and is a former professional flamenco
guitarist. He has written for the Guild of American Luthiers, lectured at guitar festivals
and museums, collects classical and flamenco guitars, was recently featured on the PBS
documentary, "Los Romeros: The Royal Family of the Guitar," and wrote the recently
published The Guitar of Andrés Segovia: Hermann Hauser 1937. He contributed to the
second edition of Shel Urlik's A Collection of Fine Spanish Guitars From Torres to the
Present. Learn more at rebrune.com and on youtube at tinyurl.com/gwgplaylist.