Tag: guitarra clásica

Rubenca, Zaragoza

Rubenca Spanish Guitar Zaragoza 1960'sRubenca Spanish Guitar made in Zaragoza in the 1960’s

My guitar playing days started with electric guitars and I never really cared much for acoustics until I moved to Spain in 2010 and now acoustic guitars are my main passion in life. Another thing I never used to pay much attention to was Spanish guitars but after moving here I have occasionally come across some that I really liked, especially my Francisca Montserrat but also the Juan Estruch I got for my friend Rafa. This is one of them, a Rubenca Spanish guitar made in Zaragoza most likely in the 1960’s. The only info I found about the brand is that Rubenca is music store in Zaragoza that is still in business so I assume these guitars were made somewhere in the area and sold as their own brand, unless they made guitars themselves back then. Like most Spanish guitars from the 1960-70’s it has some parts that is way above what you expect, like all solid woods, how well they sound and especially the fancy mother of pearl inlays around the soundhole on this Rubenca. At the same time I’m always surprised how cheaply looking the fretboards tend to be, why they never bothered to smooth out the frets, why the braces seems to be cut with a freaking axe or why the machine heads never work after 50 years. I found this Rubenca when I was down in the south a couple of weeks ago to see my wife’s family. I bought it for the fancy inlays, I’ve never seen anything like that on a Spanish guitar before, but was straight away taken by the the sound and quality of the guitar. The original machine heads still work, the neck is straight and the action is still ok for a guitar that lacks trussrod. I actually didn’t have to do much more than to give it a good clean when I got it. This guitar is for sale, even though I like it a lot, but I can’t justify having more than one Spanish guitar since I hardly play them.

Rubenca Spanish Guitar Zaragoza 1960'sRubenca Spanish Guitar Zaragoza 1960'sThe Rubenca has it’s wear and tear, like a glued crack in the side, but still, the beautiful inlays and the patina makes it’s all worth it

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R.

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Mataró 1970'sGuitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Spanish guitar made in Mataró outside Barcelona 1970’s

I found this guitar in a Cash converters last week and felt so sorry for it. It had a broken head, a cracked brace, loose back and looked so sad that I felt I had to save it and bring it back to life. A week later she is up and running and sounds pretty damn sweet.

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Mataró 1970's

I couldn’t find any info about the brand so if anyone knows anything more about it then please get in touch. It has a solid spruce top and what looks to me like solid maple back and sides. It says “Guitarras de artesanía” which should indicate hand crafted but I’m not sure, quality wise it feels pretty much like the Juan Estruch I got for my friend Rafa’s birthday. Perhaps all Spanish guitars were more or less hand crafted back then, the big business guitar factories hadn’t really kicked in yet. I have put this guitar up for sale since I mainly play steel string acoustic guitars and on top of that I have a Francisca Montserrat that I really like.

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Mataró 1970'sFirst I had to try to clean her up, I have never seen a top with that much grease and grime. I used a normal furniture spray and a toothbrush, it worked like a charm. When I had cleaned the fretboard I polished the frets and oiled up the fretboard with lemon oil. She came out looking pretty descent after that.

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Mataró 1970'sNow I just had to take care of the broken head and glue the back. I have actually never glued a head on before but I assumed that you do something like this. I used to thin pieces of wood on each side to stabilise it and keep things in place, and also for not damaging the head any further with the force of the clamps. I guess it could have worked with normal wood glue too but I used my trusty old fish glue that I use for pretty much everything when it comes to guitars. It came out looking very solid after being clamped for 48 hours. I also glued the open back and a cracked brace, which was pretty straight forward. The machine heads was broken on one side so I replaced them with the leftovers from the Juan Estruch I fixed last year. They don’t match exactly but at least they are from the same time and region, that’s close enough for me. Compared to the state I found her in I think she is looking pretty good. More images can be found here.

How to… reglue a bridge

Francisca Montserrat, Barcelona
Francisca Montserrat Barcelona, Spanish guitar 1960’s

I recently reglued the bridge on my Francisca Montserrat and just wanted to show how easy it is if anyone out there feels a bit scared of doing it yourself. It’s very straight forward and only takes a couple of minutes.

Francisca Montserrat, Barcelona
Heat a spatula on a normal clothes iron, it’s good to keep a finger on it so it doesn’t get too hot and scorch the lacquer. Insert the spatula under the bridge, start with the edges and work your way to the middle to loosen the bridge. I prefer to reheat often instead of working with a really hot spatula from the start, less risk of damaging the top that way. Be careful when you do the last push so you don’t break it off, it’s supposed to come off without any direct force if the spatula is warm enough to loosen the glue. Once the bridge is off, clean the guitar top and the bottom of the bridge with some sandpaper to get a smooth surface. I earlier thought that it was good to scratch the bottom of the bridge with a knife to get something for the glue to grip to but have later been told that’s an old myth and it’s better to keep the surfaces smooth. Apply plenty of glue on both the guitar top and the bottom of the bridge, I always use fish glue for my guitars. Put the bridge in place, apply some pressure with your hands and remove all the extra glue that comes out on the side and then apply a couple of clamps to keep it in place over night. I recently got myself a couple of deep throated, 200 x 195 mm, Klemmsia clamps from German eBay that worked great.

Francisca Montserrat, Barcelona

Francisca Montserrat, Barcelona

Francisca Montersat Barcelona
Francisca Montserrat Barcelona, Spanish guitar 1960’s

The crisis has taken hard on the Spaniards and I think especially here in Barcelona you can really see the difference between the people with and without jobs. I have never seen so many men rummaging  through the rubbish bins and collecting things to sell, ideally scrap metal. At the same time I have never seen so nice things being thrown out like they are worth nothing just because they are old. A couple of month ago my friends and I passed a guy with a shopping trolley full of scrap metal and an old guitar on top. I stopped him and asked how much he wanted for the guitar, without actually having any idea what it was or what shape it was in. He said 10€ and I bought it straight away. It was very dirty and in bad shape but after a bit of cleaning and new strings it turned out to be an amazing sounding and very easy to play little Flamenco guitar. I’m just happy that I managed to save a really nice guitar from a faith that could be way worse than being cherished and played by me and my friends.

Francisca Montersat BarcelonaFrancisca Montersat Barcelona