Arcangel Fernandez (ex Mario Maccaferri)
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This is an absolutely interesting guitar for many reasons - its origins, history/provenance and of course excellence as a great musical instrument.
Although this guitar has been built with genuine Santos Hernandez elements (including rosette, label dated 1921 and possibly other parts) it is believed to have actually been constructed between 1955 and 1957, by Arcangel Fernandez during or shortly after his apprenticeship period at the Marcelo Barbero shop. Arcangel was the only student of Marcelo Barbero, who had been hired by Santos' widow, Mathilde Ruiz, to complete guitars left unfinished by Santos upon his death. In the case of this guitar, it is most likely that some of the materials from the Santos shop were taken by Barbero and eventually were acquired by Arcangel, which made their way into this guitar. Authorship of the guitar has been attributed to Arcangel for several reasons - internal evidence such as tooling marks, reinforcing strips, bracing and lining shapes, as well as details pertaining to the heel are all very similar to and indicitave of Arcangel's work from his early period, and not of any era of Santos. Perhaps the smoking gun is a signature under the top in pencil: "A. Fernandez" (see photo). The finish (which is original) is also closer to the formula used by Arcangel than by Santos and several other aesthetic details including the size of the purflings and coloring point to Arcangel and not Santos.
This guitar was owned by the late Mario Maccaferri and purchased from his estate by the previous owner, and according to Maccaferri's widow, his favorite guitar. Select restoration was done by Yuris Zeltins to "undo" some repairwork done by Maccaferri, and this includes a the construction of a new bridge and headstock, new frets, the re-repairing of several cracks, the addition of clear golpeadors and some french polish touchup. Playability is therefore excellent and of course the guitar is in excellent, albeit restored, condition.
Sound is spectacular, it has all the great qualities of a mid-century flamenco, which should not be suprising given its constituent elements from Santos, through Barbero to Arcangel. The work of these three builders has played an integral role in defining the archetypal flamenco guitar and this instrument is as good an example of this synthesis as can be found anywhere. It is light in weight which produces a very strong, booming sound, with lightning-fast response. The basses have impressive richness and body, and the trebles have a beautiful, singing, "lyrical" quality.
This is one of the most compelling instruments we've seen to date - an absolutely unique guitar with a big story and a big sound.