Claescaster

Tag: Classic guitar

Juan Estruch, Barcelona

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
The 1960’s Juan Estruch Barcelona guitar before and after I cleaned it up.

I recently bought an old Juan Estruch guitar for my friend Rafa. He has mentioned numerous times, actually since the day that I found my Francisca Montserrat, that he would love to have an old Spanish guitar. So for his birthday Araceli and I went to all the Cash converters we could think of an eventually found a beat up Juan Estruch for him. The brand was founded here in Barcelona by Juan Estruch Rosell in 1880. This guitar seems to have been made between 1960-1969, according to the label, and has a solid top. There was a few things that needed to be sorted to get it playable but I could tell straight away, even with strings missing, that it had a nice tone and great projection.

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
This is what it looked like when I bought it

Here is some info about the brand taken from Wikipedia, unfortunately in Spanish for you English readers: Guitarras Juan Estruch es una marca de guitarras y otros instrumentos musicales de Barcelona. La compañía fue fundada por Juan Estruch Rosell en 1880, siendo maestro de otros luthiers de fama como Enrique Sanfeliu1 de quien exponen una guitarra en el ministerio de educación de Uruguay. Después de la guerra civil, su hijo Joan Estruch Sastre se hizo cargo del taller de la calle Ample continuando con la construcción artesanal de guitarras siguiendo la tradición familiar. A su muerte (1970), su hijo Joan Estruch Pipó, se hizo cargo de la empresa hasta su muerte en 1989. Hoy en día la empresa sigue en Rubí, con el nombre ESTRUCH Luthiers , a cargo de la viuda y el antiguo encargado del taller Rafael Montes que entró a los 14 años, aunque la mayor parte de su producción es para la exportación. En los años sesenta muchos de los cantautores de la nueva canción catalana fueron clientes del taller de la calle Ample haciendo un lugar de encuentro con animadas tertulias.

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
The normal cleaning, polishing frets and oiling the fretboard

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
I wasn’t really sure how to fix the missing binding. In the end I decided to do a MacGyver and just use what every I could find at home. First I closed the gap between the side and top with fish glue and then I filled it up with wood filler. When it was dry I sanded it in to shape, got it smooth and then painted it black to match the original plastic binding.

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
Unfortunately I had to change the machine heads since one was broken, I would have loved to keep it all original

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
The final result, a fully playable birthday present for my friend Rafa

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
Rafa from the band Cobarde with his new Juan Estruch guitar

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
Sr Chinarro came around and tried it too

1965 Tienda de construcción de guitarras del Sr Estruch en la calle Ancha
1965 Tienda de construcción de guitarras del Sr Estruch en la calle Ancha

Alhambra

Alhambra 1978
Alhambra, Made in Spain in 1978

This beautiful old Alhambra arrived to the office yesterday. It’s a present for my father-in-law, Marcos. He picked up a guitar for the first time a couple of years ago when he was in his late Sixties, which proves that it’s never too late. Now he felt that he had outgrown his beginners guitar and wanted something else so Araceli and I bought this one for him. He really wanted an Alhambra, not only for their reputation but also because they are built in Muro de Alcoy, a small village in the mountains north of Alicante, not far from where Marcos grew up in Cartagena. The only problem is that the second hand markets for guitars in Spain is pretty bad and even worse in the South so his only option would have been to spend 700€ on a new one, the prices are quite high down there since there isn’t much competition. So we decided to help him out and found this fairly cheap from Germany on eBay. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, nowadays Alhambra is one of the worlds best and biggest guitar builders known for their great quality, but how were things 30-40 years ago? I had only played one once, a beat up Alhambra from 1976 that I found in a Cash Converter. It had a terrible belly and the bridge was coming off too but they still wanted 120€ for it and refused to lower the price since it was an Alhambra. These Seventies models doesn’t seem to have any model indications so it’s hard to know if a certain guitar was made for the tourists in the 1960-70’s or if it was made to be played properly. The machine heads, fretboard and frets are on the cheaper side but the wood is amazing and they have really great tone. So even if this was made fairly cheap for a tourist to bring back home to Germany they still knew how to build great guitars because the volume and tone is far better than on any modern Spanish guitar that I have played lately. I levelled the frets a bit, crowned them and softened the edges and then polished everything. I also sanded down the saddle since the action was a bit high but now it feels nice and plays really well, maybe not as nice as my Francisca Montserrat but still. Now we just have to wait and see what Marcos feels about his new guitar, hopefully he will like it as much as Araceli and I do.

Alhambra 1978
The frets felt pretty uneven so I levelled, crowned and polished them and then sanded down the saddle a bit

Alhambra 1978

Alhambra 1978
Alhambra built in Muro de Alcoy in 1978