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As you can imagine, over the years we’ve recorded more than a few great videos on guitars by Jose Ramirez – everything from brand new guitars to guitars from the middle of the last century and of course the 1969 Ramirez that was owned on played by Andres Segovia for ten years. Players have included Scott Tennant, Adam Holzman, Irina Kulikova, George Sakellariou, Tavi Jinariu and many more. We’ve complied a playlist of all of the videos we’ve produced featuring Jose Ramirez guitars and you can see them all here, or simply watch the video below and you’ll be on your way.
Only the most rare and highly-reputed guitars from across eras of the past receive great attention to the extent that players, recording artists and collectors share a common language in expressing just how valuable a guitar is – not in a monetary sense, but in the way that particular guitar’s presence fills the room, in the way its presence inspires a player and in the way the character of the guitar is simply like none other encountered before. Such guitars that come to mind are very special in our books, for example: the famous Antonio de Torres “La leona” (see Fritz Ober’s replica), the 1927 Francisco Simplicio SP/CSAR and the 1957 Hermann Hauser II (ex. Julian Bream) to name very few. However, one very special guitar made an appearance in our showroom recently amongst a legendary, rare and astonishing collection, and it has received attention in ways we could not have imagined.
Very few names have been as influential in the development and history of the guitar as the name José Ramírez. The family tradition was born around the year 1870, when a 12 year-old boy began an apprenticeship at a local builder’s workshop. He worked to develop his skills and in 1882 he founded the José Ramírez workshop. Now in its fourth generation, with Amalia Ramírez carrying on the legacy, the Ramírez name continues to be the gold standard by which all other Spanish classical and flamenco guitars are measured.
Here, we have compiled a brief but robustly informative history of the José Ramírez dynasty, which so grandly continues to impress historians, audiences and players alike for its output of guitars that capture the Spanish tradition and soul. To go more in-depth into each generation’s special contributions to the guitar and the famous workshop, click on each individual.
José Enrique Ramírez García (José IV; 1953 – 2000) was born in Madrid during May 1953. He started working as an apprentice in 1971 and reached the category of journeymen in 1977. In 1988, he decided to run the family business with his sister Amalia Ramírez. His idea was to re-define the models that were being built then.
In the mid 80s, a change had been detected in the taste in sound of some major guitarists, and the Ramírez family began to make their guitars exactly what these players needed.
José Simón Ramírez de Galarreta y Pernias (José II; 1885 – 1957) was born in 1885. He grew up in his father’s shop, where he not only learned the trade from his father, but from journeymen like his uncle Manuel and other legendary luthiers like Enrique García and Julián Gómez. Besides being a guitar-maker, he was a guitarist, and when he was 20 years old, he was hired to go on a two-year tour of South America.
José Ramírez III (1922 – 1995) was without doubt one of the most influential and important luthiers in the second part of the 20th century. His guitars influenced hundreds of instrument makers, many of whom imitated him, and thousands of guitarists around who played his instruments. Indirectly, he even influenced composers of the guitar who found for the first time that their music could be heard in large concert halls instead of small chamber music environments. It could be argued that José III had a more profound effect on the development of the modern guitar than any other guitar maker in history.
So what was his secret, and why do we make such sweeping claims about his importance? One paramount reason is that José III was the first and only luthier to be able to standardize the process of making a classical guitar such that it could be built by any well-trained artisan, according to his precise plan and under his supervision. Moreover, the design was such that these instruments, although not made by him personally, stood up to and often exceeded the quality of the best handmade instruments of the day.
Jose Ramirez: Myths and Facts
Myth: My guitar was made by the old man himself!
Fact: Very unlikely. My first response is which old man: José Ramirez I, II, III, IV (not so old)? After that, keep in mind that the José Ramirez workshop has employed many workmen in the shop over the years. Of all of the great Ramirez guitars played by Segovia and his students during the 1960s, very few if any were actually made from start to finish by José Ramirez III. This was simply not the practice. Ramirez III acted as maestro of his shop since the 1950s, but his journeymen were the hands-on workers. I do not mean to imply that as a result these great instruments were inferior. On the contrary, it is testimony to a great design that it can be repeated by so many different individuals. However, most of these great guitars were made by people other than Ramirez I, II, III or IV. In short, the signature below the label does not mean the guitar was made by José Ramirez, only that it met his criteria and approval.
It is with pleasure that our friends in Spain, Cristina and Enrique Ramírez – Amalia Ramírez’s niece and nephew – share the first trailer they produced for the upcoming documentary about the José Ramírez guitar-making family. Watch this 2-minute preview below, and you’ll see that the documentary will touch on how the guitar has survived thus far, plus it will undoubtedly detail the stamp that the Ramírez brand has left in the guitar world with 137+ years of work. The trailer was made for the Madrid Flamenco Festival, and the siblings will share with us (and you) all remaining trailers as the September premiere date approaches. We’re really thrilled for this as much as we’ve been for any other movie released this year (including “End Game”)… Stay tuned!Continue Reading