1876 Francisco Gonzalez SP/MP
|Back & Sides:
Nineteenth century Madrid-based builder Francisco Gonzalez was a near exact contemporary of Antonio de Torres but who built in his own style - in particular as he states on his label that his instruments are built in "a new and elegant design with a special system" (...una nueva y elegante forma y construidos por un sistema especial suyo...). Gonzalez was very celebrated in his own day - he was the winner of several prizes and medals in various exhibitions during his lifetime and is known to have been the teacher of both Jose Ramirez I and his brother Manuel Ramirez. Indeed it was Jose I's loyalty to Gonzalez and the "sistema" and Manuel's conversion to the Torres design that was the source of the idealogical split between the two Ramirez brothers that forced them to break their partnership and instead set up competing shops in Madrid. Gonzalez' reputation in his own day is strongly suggests that he must have been a prolific builder, however, much like Vicente Arias, very few of his instruments survive to the present day. This particular guitar from 1876 not only survives to the present day but it flourishes in the present day! Apart from a few minor repairs, the instrument is in extremely well-preserved condition and retains all original elements - thicknesses of woods, finish, even tuning machines, which curiously are shaped to accommodate the sloping line of the bottom of the head shape (which by the way one can see in the instruments of Jose Ramirez throughout all generations even to the present). The bold look of the guitar with its utra-wide rosette, high wasteline in the plantilla and mustache bridge is only matched by the boldness of its sound. Sound-wise the guitar is nothing short of spectacular with a huge bottom end that would rival any design that has come after. Although the basses are huge, they are transparent to the upper notes and do not crowd out the brilliant, crystalline trebles - the guitar therefore retains an unusullly perfect balance, even amid the richness of the bass notes. In this guitar it is easy to see the allure that Jose Ramirez I must have admired and wished to capture. This is by every standard a rare, historical, well-preserved and for all matters, great sounding and playing guitar by one of the most important and influential 19th century Spanish builders.