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woensdag 2 juli 2008

Manuel Contreras 1 (1983) / Antonio Dotras Cordoba

This Manuel Contreras date from 1983, the time Manuel 
Contreras I was in charge. Cedar topped guitar and Brasilian
rosewood sides and back. A 65,5 scale is provided and
of course an ebony fingerboard.

These kind of coloured rosette was most used on guitars from 
Contreras around these times. However the exact rosette as
this one we haven't been able to find yet.
The soundboard has been provided with a traditional 5 fan bracing.
These 2A class guitars seems to posess a bit more the traditional
Madrid (Jose Ramirez) sound and I can confirm that but only
the real beauty of its'  sound was detactable after I removed the
rather crudely placed scratchplates (even layer on layer on the
higher string side) and the exchange of the badly modelled
bridgebone. Absolutely handbuilt but not by Manuel Contreras
himself. The guitars that have a hand signed label are the 
premium concert guitars but often built by Ignacio Rozas.

A beautiful piece of wood has been used for the back and
sides which makes this instrument a beauty.
Narrow grained top with one well repaired crack beneath the bridge.

A non signed label which could point towards a guitar
second to their top model (2A) and most likely made 
by one of his workmen. Absolutely handbuilt anyway.

The head that looks the same as on the 1A model.
And of course the Fustero tuners and the inlay in the head
that can be found as well on the 1A model. However the
outer ends on top of the heads are normally a bit sharper
on the later Doble Tapa models but the earlier ones do show
more similarities. The outer heelform isn't the same
as on the double tapa models of the mid eighties.

A nice shot of the Fustero tuners that are hand engraved
as was done by this company from Barcelona on their
higher end models.

A shot of the back that still  is in pristine condition.
The soundboard shows some play wear but nothing
serious. We compared this instrument with the somewhat 
later double tapa models and the plantilla (contours)
of the body differs from these models which can mean
two things. As in a small workshop like Manuel Contreras
had the use of only one soundbox model would be most
explainable. What is of relevance is the comparison
between a slightly earlier signed Contreras and this one.

On the sides the use of  Brasilian rosewood becomes
even more obvious. Nicely matched as was common.

The use of this Brasilian rosewood for a non signed guitar
is of course remarkable. There are no markings inside this
instrument so the mystery is still there but anyway:
Playability is great and the sound can concur that of
a signed instrument from the Contreras workshop.
Probably Contreras worked the same way as Jose
Ramirez did: If there were any flaws on the 1A meant
guitars they were labelled 2A or not signed. On this
guitar the "flaw" could be the ebony used for the
fingerboard, in fact third quality because of the small
spots that can be detected at various places. It is of
course not of any influence to the sound of this one.

Antonio Dotras Cordoba

I recently obtained this guitar for very little and not
that I'm in need of a guitar I'm allways curious to
learn more about several makers. As Antonio Dotras
Cordoba, based in Barcelona has been mentioned in
the Jose Romanillos dictionnary it awakened my
interest in this instrument. It has not been built with
the highest grade of materials nor has it been finished
with the utmost care but its' sound was remarkable
allready though there is a lot left to be done.

The headform is allmost universal what made me think
it to be a cheaper imported guitar from Valencia. You can 
think of Hijos de Vicente Tatay or other Valencian makers
but the plantilla is bigger. In fact the soundbox is longer.
This instrument is equipped with a 3 piece fan bracing.
Probably the soundboard has been kept a bit thicker and
there is where something is left to be done but we
need to do that with care.

As the soundboard will be thinned around the edges
the guitar as a whole will be stripped and entirely
lacquered. The neck profile can be adjusted and the
fingerboard will be stripped from its' paint as well
and provided with nickel silver frets.

The bridge is ok and not even that roughly modelled.

The soundboard shows us a not really quarter sawn
piece of wood. One crack in the upper right end but
that is not a very tricky spot.

As I allways collect parts of old guitar tuners this is
no big deal but probably I will mount some better tuners 
on this guitar and reshape the head a bit. As for the label
it says: A. Dotras Cordoba - Calle San Pablo 28 what
makes it easy to place in time as Dotras had his workshop
on the Calle San Pablo 5 from 1920 untill 1957.
In 1957-58 he was at Calle San Pablo 28 and around
the year 1963 Vicente Carillo Cantos and his wife 
Gabriela Casas Fornier went to work for Dotras 
Cordoba in Calle Ancha, Barcelona

Here the guitar has been entirely stripped but it is
becoming allready clear that not all the damaged spots
can be cured as they are too deep in the wood.

The guitar hasn't bee treated that well maybe because
it was "just"  a student guitar so in order the give it
back "some of its' glory" we had to reshape the head
and the two vertical sleeves for the tuners.

The insert for the crack has been made here.
For most guitar players it would be reassuring
but in fact very little could have happened if
we had left it the way it was.

By putting the guitarhead against the wall the earlier
damages have been done but making the head slightly
thinner we can start all over again.

And indeed, most of these guitars were lacquered
in a quick way. This time 8 layers of thin Alkyd spray 
paint were applied to get this result. The scale of this
guitar is 645 mm. The width of the topnut: 52 mm.

And surely you can comb your hair in the shiny back.
When the lacquer has been hardened out it is allways
possible to polish the back to a less shiny appearance.

The rosette is fresh again and I've added an extra 19th
fret that simply is in need for some demanding pieces.

The old original tuners were worn out and had too much
play so to make it playable the addition of new tuners
was the best solution.

No this is not the label in the guitar here above. I've added it 
to show that there were 3 different labels when Antonio
Dotras Cordoba was situated in the Calle San Pablo 28 which
is a bit strange as the Romanillos dictionnary states him
to be on this adress only in 1957-58. But three labels in
such a short time is a bit astonishing.

A signed and dated label could be a sign of superior quality
instruments as can be seen here above.

The label presented here above is also present in the
guitar I described allready. But you can see here a
more complex rosette and most likely an ebony
fingerboard which points towards a concert instrument.

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