Luthier: Jose Ramirez II
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.
He found it very difficult to convince his father to let him accept the contract, but finally he convinced him that two years was not such a long time. However, the tour was prolonged, and the two years turned into almost 20 years, when the group he traveled with had been dissolved. José stayed abroad in Buenos Aires where he met the girl who later would become his wife, and who had traveled from Spain to Argentina with her family. José and his wife had two children, José Ramírez III and Alfredo Ramírez.
In 1923, he received the news of his father’s death and returned to Madrid with his family. Two years later he was in charge of the Ramírez workshop on Concepción Jerónima. He was on the first floor of the store and was assisted by Jesus Martínez, as well as Alfonso Benito and Antonio Gómez, as journeymen and Marcelo Barbero, who was still an apprentice at the time. Manuel Rodríguez, nicknamed “Marequi”, was there applying varnish but not as guitar-maker. His son, Manuel Rodríguez, would later become a guitar-builder’s apprentice.
José Ramírez II was a Maestro recognized for his work and in 1923 he participated in the Ibero-American Exhibition of Seville, where he was awarded the Gold Medal. In 1936, due to the many problems that were brought on by the Spanish civil war, he had great difficulty in getting wood and materials for the construction of guitars. This situation lasted a long time, which hindered his work considerably. These shortages were often a topic of discussion with his son, José III when he became a journeyman and began to do his own experiments.