Mudcat Café message #3287839 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #52395   Message #3287839
Posted By: Don Firth
09-Jan-12 - 09:35 PM
Thread Name: Guitar Headstock Design
Subject: RE: Guitar Headstock Design
With Spanish luthiers, the shape of the headstock (usually, the very top end) is a sort of trademark. This is the design that José Ramirez uses:    CLICKY #1.

Luthiers in other countries often don't respect the trademark design. In fact, with a guitar like a Ramirez (Segovia's choice after he retired his Herman Hauser), quite a number of guitar makers copied the design. I have a Japanese-made classic that was imported by José Oribé of San Diego, which he licensed to be sold under his label. I bought it from The Rosewood Guitar, a quality-guitar import shop in Seattle. Steve Novacek, who owned the shop at the time, and I sat there one afternoon and we tried several guitars in various price ranges, including a couple of Ramirezes (spelling ?). I opted for the Oribé import because in terms of sound and playability, it was practically indistignuisable from the Ramirez (we did a blind test on each other), and it was one-tenth the price of the Ramirez (which WAS one helluva guitar!). $350 instead of $3,500!

I did a recital of folk songs and ballads for the Seattle Classic Guitar Society, accompanying myself with the Oribé import, and because it was a dead ringer for a Ramirez—same woods, cedar soundboard and Brazilian rosewood back and sides, and the trademark headstock design, AND because it sounded so full and lush—even those who owned Ramirez guitars automatically assumed that that is what it was.

Helluva bargain!!

I also have an Arcangel Fernandez flamenco guitar that I bought from the maker in Madrid. One of the Seattle Classic Guitar Society members showed the Arcangel flamenco that he brought back from his recent trip to Spain, and when I drooled all over it, he put me in touch with Fernandez. Once again, with dumb luck, I scored! I got it in 1961 for about $175, including import duty and air freight from Madrid to Seattle.

Arcangel Fernandez was an apprentice of Marcello Barbero, whose guitars were the favorites of those flamenco guitarists who could afford them, such as Sabicas, Carlos Montoya, and Mario Escudero. When Barbero died, Fernandez inherited the shop. He wanted to sell the guitars under his own name, rather than, as some makers did when the master died, continue the name, but indicate in small print on the label that the guitar was actually made by someone else. But to indicate the lineage, he kept the Barbero headstock design to indicate that the guitars were made by a student of Barbero. This is the Barbero/Fernandez headstock design:   CLICKY #2.

I recently learned that the early Fernandez flamencos, circa 1961, are rare, and I also learned that a couple of them have been sold, through brokers, in the $15,000 to $20,000 range!!!


Don Firth