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This is a superb and extremely well-preserved guitar by Vicente Arias (c. 1840-1912), one of the most intriguing yet shadowy giants in guitar-making history. Almost no biographical details are known about his life, and despite the fact that the instruments he left behind are rarely seen, they have retained a very special mystique and longstanding reputation of the highest order amongst the guitar aficionado communities world-wide up to the present day. Although presently we know very little about this elusive personality, a glance at his later labels suggests that he was likely a household name in his own time - the label proudly displays the medals won in competitions in Brussels, Madrid and Barcelona.
Even though the plantillas and bracing systems (and degree of ornamentation) Arias experimented with differed substantially from guitar to guitar, his reputation for producing a consistently beautiful quality of tone is likely the reason for his enduring legacy. And this guitar is a great example of this quality - it is simply exquisite for its quality of sound. While every note is rich in overtones, it retains an almost unbelievable degree of separation and clarity between voices. Due to its ultra-lightweight build, the production of sound is immediate, with an ample amount of tonal modulation and dynamic range. This guitar also boasts enormous power, which will immediately put to rest any rumor that old guitars don't have much sound! It has been restored - several cracks throughout the body have been expertly repaired, mainly with glue and manuscript paper. One crack is spliced, and there are 5 cleats under the top. The pegs have been replaced with mechanical pegs, for ease of use. Overall, this is an expressive and impressive instrument by all measures from one of the most enigmatic builders in the 'canon' of the great historical makers of the past 150 years.