The Manuel Ramirez shop is undoubtedly the most important workshop of the early turn-of-the-century, post-Torres era of guitar making. Manuel Ramirez (1864-1916) committed himself to ensuring the survival of the "Torres" design into the 20th century (and beyond). With his vision and determination, coupled with a shop assembled of the finest builders alive at the time (including none other than Santos Hernandez, Domingo Esteso, Modesto Borreguero, Pascual Viudes and very likely Enrique Garcia), he successfully produced great instruments that secured the legacy of Torres for all future generations of guitar makers. This particular guitar is a perfect example of the style and sound that had such a profound impact on its listeners and players.
This instrument was built the same year as Segovia's famous and iconic 1912 Manuel Ramirez (now housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, along with Segovia's 1937 Hauser I) and appears to be very similar in dimensions and proportions to Segovia's guitar. It has a well-documented history of its prior owners and repairs. Our documentation begins in 1921 when a Frenchman named Louis Brillouet Valet bought this guitar from a Madrid Music Academy. It is assumed that the guitar was commissioned initially by a member of this academy but because the academy had been burned in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, the original documentation has been lost. In 1942, the guitar was brought to Chile by Mr. Valet when he was hired to be winemaker at the Dusselaut Vineyard near Santiago. There it remained and was passed on to his son, Louis Brillouet Carrasco who in his 80's sold the guitar into the US where it was acquired by Russell Cleveland in the early 1990’s. Rarely do we have such extensive information about an instrument's history. It has had several repairs including a replacement of the back. The original label was saved, and repaired by affixing to a paper backing and re-applying to the new back. The center brace under the soundboard was replaced (and 2 added for a total of 9 fan braces) It was also recently with Yuris Zeltins (one of the last guitars he worked on before his recent retirement) who re-repaired a couple of cracks in the back and sides that had opened. The instrument retains a magnificent quality of sound. Its feather-like weight gives it incredible volume and instant response. It has deep basses, sparkling trebles, and rich textures of sound interwoven with the clear, focused fundamentals. The sound is unmistakably Spanish - deep, dark and mysterious, and the experience of playing a guitar like this is unique, likely also due to the age and its having been played for over 100 years.