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woensdag 2 juli 2008

Juan Estruch Concerto model 2 1972 / Juan Estruch 1920 / 1930

A 1972 Concerto II model of this Barcelona based
luthier. In fact a factory made instrument but with the
quality of a hand built one. In pristine condition as it has
hardly been played. 65 cm scale and a traditional
7 fan bracing with no closing ribs. Individual blocks
are used to glue the top to the sides. The spruce top in 
combination with the ebony fingerboard seems to 
cause cracks alongside the fingerboard as is the case 
with this guitar. Though not that loud, the sound is
very complete and even. Good woodwork inside.

Quality of the woods used is great although indian rosewood.

The Torres head and the strange "bulb" above the top nut.
I used this move on an old Juan Estruch in order to be able
to place  a 64 cm fingerboard instead of a 65 cm finger-
board that in fact was original but gave a wrong octave pitch.
The tuners are of a cheaper quality but they work well.

A quite heavily decorated bridge.

Good (enough) tuners that do their job well.

The pattern of the rosette has been repeated in the bridge
stringblock. The Concerto series are still around but it
remains questionable wether their qualities still are the
same as a lot of machinery took over some proceedings.

Juan Estruch ( around 1925 )

A fairly old Juan Estruch but with the round label the
company used from 1920 until 1954. Adress: Calle Ancha 30
Barcelona (Source: Romanillos). In the mid twenties of the last 
century Juan Estruch Sastre imported wood and materials 
(from 1919) and guitars (1923-25) from Telesforo Julve 
and by seeing the typical bridge inlays this could have 
been one of them. Even the carving of the bridge is identical 
to the TJ bridges. This is more than a coincidence!

It is obvious the guitar has "lived" and will be brought back
to live though there is a lot left to be done. In fact the Rosette
shows us a nice wooden inlay so no concentric circles only!
The extended fingerboard also has a similar design as
the TJ guitars. This guitar has a three piece soundboard.

The back and sides are making this guitar even more 
remarkable as one can conclude the wood to be walnut
but of a higher quality. A cedar neck with a fingerboard 
of a strange reddish color but dense enough to do a good 
job! The same wood I have found on my Telesforo Julve 
from the fifties. Soundboard is spruce, fairly wide grained. 
The soundboard is supported by a 5 fan bracing but all
quite close to each other. The inner heel shows a higher
standard than was usual in the Telesforo Julve guitars.

A "Torres"  kind of head form, Estruch later used for the
Concerto series. Wether if the tuners are original I really
do not know. The headstock is nicknamed: "shouldered".
But in fact a bit crudely shaped so I will make some
corrections to it though I know: not original anymore.
The "original" shape has been damaged on the back
so that's the reason I will reshape it.

I decided to proceed the restoration from this guitar as
the sound is surprisingly good and complete. However
the markings at several places on the back of the neck
and the placing of a new fingerboard urged me to 
relaquer the neck and head. As the head was not treated 
that well I had to remove some damages and decided
to redress the head as a whole to a more Torres-like
approach. Thoroughly cleaning of old tuners in fact
is a must. Here the final result can be seen.

The typical "Valencian"  way of constructing a heel.
The heel is rounded and that would date the guitar
between 1909 and 1945. ( If this is a Telesforo Julve.)
Please note that Marcelo Barbero also used this way
of constructing a heel.

The tuners from which it is questionable if they were
there at the birth of this guitar. So, what to do first:
As the transverse bar under the fingerboard came off
the guitar already had a bad playing action but even
after repairing that it will not solve the whole problem.
The back is partly loose so the invitation lies there:
"Remove me please" then it will be possible to lift the 
soundboard a bit with a reglued brace. A neck reset is
easy when the back has been removed but a Spanish
heel is allways a bit of a problem. These tuners have
been spot as well on a 1920 / 1930 Juan Estruch so 
it could have been possible that some guitars were 
assembled in Barcelona as the other Estruch was a
really high end model of the company.

On this picture the rather strange 5 fan bracing is visible.
Strange in a sense that the 5 bars have been placed quite 
close to each other. Another remarkable feature is the 
placing of 6 clamps in the lower bout in order to
strengthen the two seams of the 3 piece soundboard.

The brace left most likely got loose and as a result the
fingerboard "moved'  under the string pressure as can be
seen in the sound hole. Obviously the soundboard as
a whole shows a sag at that point as a result.

Maybe not that interesting but for two reasons I've included
this picture. It shows an end block which is quite similar to 
those that can be found in the Telesforo Julve guitars and
besides that 6 rather crudely shaped clamps in order to 
strengthen the two seams of the 3 piece soundboard. The 
same feature I found in my fifties Telesforo Julve that
has a 3 piece soundboard as well. It is even questionable 
wether if the builder did this on purpose as there are also 
three piece soundboards on some Antonio de Torres guitars.
Exactly the same shaped end block in my fifties TJ guitar.

It would have been logically that with the loosening of
the now visible transverse brace the soundboard cracked
along the fingerboard as a result of string pressure but
after having removed the fingerboard it became obvious 
that the so called cracks in fact are seams of the middle
part of the soundboard. There was no other way to make
a proper correction of the "moved" soundboard piece
under the old fingerboard without removing it. 
Now the bit deformed whole neck setting  as a result
of string pressure is able to "come back"  to its'
original position. Another problem remains the scale
of the original fingerboard: 650 mm as the distance
between the nut and 12th fret is 325 mm but from
the 12th fret to the bridge bone 320 mm (!) Partly due
to the deformation of the whole neck area but also a
not properly glued bridge distance! I have an ebony
fingerboard already slotted for a 640 mm scale.
I can place that instead of the original and still have
a 2 mm compensation which is normal nowadays.
And remember: In former times there was not taken
care for a compensation as string height was usually
much lower!

I will close the seam on the right properly and make an
insert left as that part will be covered by the new fingerboard.

Securely flattening out this area and comparing
it with the rest of the neck is very important now
as I decided to place the frets before gluing the 
fingerboard. The pictured area is too vulnerable
for hammering in frets even with a decent support.

I have a 19 fret fingerboard now which is very suitable for 
the more demanding musical pieces. As I explained earlier
the scale is now 640 mm with a compensation from the
12th fret to the bridgebone of 2 mm. 

As the earlier fingerboard had a scale of 650 mm I had
to make a solution for the top nut. If you take a closer
look at the first Juan Estruch presented in this blog you
can conclude I used their own method to solve this
problem. Just a small piece of ebony placed above
the top nut so the new situation has a natural look
regarding proportions.

The twelfth fret is a fraction more reachable now but
that can play an important role in some musical pieces.
Next step is to glue the back in place. I think it has to be 
shortened by around 2 / 3 mm for a proper neck reset 
and that won't be a big problem.

The back has been placed and glued. The top has been 
treated with a greyish color remover for bare wood and
that had a significant effect on the color of the top. The 
sound after putting the strings on is typical for the Valencia
guitars but compared to my fifties Telesforo Julve it
has more power in the higher notes. The guitar is not
"shining"  (brightness of the higher notes) the way my 
Jose Ramirez 1945 does but that can have two causes: 
The top still has to be relaquered and the guitar needs
to be "played in"  again!

Not yet the "final"  result as the binding on the back has 
to be redone partly: Gluing on an existing back and giving
the instrument a slight neck reset at the same time means 
an inevitable unevenness at some spots. But the top is
relaquered now. Most of the time I polish the varnish 
after about a year as only then you can get the amount 
of brilliance in the lacquer you want because the lacquer
has to be hardened out. I used an Alkyd lacquer that 
indeed adds to the brightness of the higher notes and
can be removed quite easily if there is a need to.

The relacquered back. And the sides have been done as
well as the old varnish gave the wood a more yellowish
appearance and that wouldn't combine with the varnish 
on the back. It is a nice clear lacquer.

The result makes it obvious that walnut has a beauty
of its' own. These quality of walnut is simply different
from the later Spanish study guitars of the sixties and
seventies. The binding has been done by Bram Waque.
He did a nice job as well.

Maybe I will come up with an added strip between the
outer heel and the soundbox as that has been a bit crudely
done in the past.

The back of the guitar in combination with the rest.

In fact there were still two problems: The bridge was constructed 
quite heavy and too hh for a good playing action. Apart from that
the holes for the strings in the tieblock were placed too high.
As a result the strings didn't make a proper angle over the bridge
bone and were still too far away from the fingerboard

As the fingerboard has been replaced with an ebony one I decided 
to make an ebony bridge as well though less high as the original
one as the weight of a bridge had a negative influence on the
sound of an instrument. The Telesforo Julve strips are there!
It is a very nice playable and sounding instrument now with
a bit of a narrower neck suitable for some pieces.

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