Tag: Juan Estruch

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.

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