Here a model Concerto 1 from the Estruch company is presented.
A lot has to be done to this guitar and it remains questionable
wether if it is worth all the work. Ment as an instrument for the
upper market it should be rewarding. Anyway the Fustero tuners
are! The same tuners with the lyre motiv that are mounted on the
earlier Jose Ramirez III model 1a concert guitars.
The headform is a bit more elaborate in comparison to the
Concierto 2 model here beyond. The neck is straight but
the angle neck / soundbox is wrong so all the frets have
to be taken out in order to shave the fingerboard off
towards the head to make a proper correction.
A nice rosette but at the moment difficult to judge as
the varnish came off most likely due to a moisturous
environment. That is the problem with the soundbox
as a whole so the guitar has to be entirely stripped.
The soundboard is equipped with a 7 fan bracing.
Scale is 650 mm.
Again a typical moisture damage. I hope the side can be bent
a bit inwards. The final colour will be much darker, more the
way the back is at the moment. This yellowish colour can
be found on a lot of other older instrument as the varnish
is responsible for that. You can conclude by seeing about the
same spot after the varnish has been removed. To be sure
the "crack" visible on the first picture the side will be
strengthened from the inside, though in fact not necessary.
And some other traces of moisture during a longer time.
But luckily after having removed this polyurethane lacquer
the damage was only in the too thick varnish.
But this made my heart very happy: Beautiful engraved
Fustero tuners and they do differ from each other as it
all has been done by hand. Mechanically spoken not
the best choice to be honest....
The back that looks surprisingly good with a multi
coloured centre inlay that is also present on the edges.
A closer shot for this inlay work.
And again some moisture problems...
But the lighter spots are only coming from moisture getting
under the layer of thick varnish. No cracks here and uneven
spots could be reglued and refinished afterwards.
It even resulted in a crack here at the bottom. The
restauration process can be followed in the near future.
Reguing will do in this case as it is above the glue
blocks on the inside.
Nice and stable again!
The so well known yellow label in the high end Estruch
guitars, sometims signed, sometimes not and that can occur
on a Concierto 3 (lower grade model) as well!
The first thing I wanted to know wether if the dark coloured
stripes on the soundboard were actually cracks in the wood
but most likely the cracks in the varnish were there already
for a long time and "collected" dirt which at the moment still
can be seen. I will try to remove these in a second treatment.
The lacquer was a hard kind of "industrial one" so well known
for the "seventies" of the past age. You are forced to sand the
last part as a lacquer solvent won't do the job. These kind
of varnishes are detrimental for a good sound to my opinion.
Mostly I use a minimum of lacquer layers on the soundboard.
The rosette looks better already and it is clear that this guitar
has been provided with a spruce soundboard. By placing a
light bulb under the soundboard you can see through it and
even determine the placing of the fan struts. Another obser-
vation learns that the frets are removed already in order to
sand down the fingerboard into the head direction for a
better neck / body angle.
Of course it is better to have removed this bridge as it came
off already and removing the lacquer from the top with the
bridge still on top is an almost impossible job. Moreover I'm
able now to make a twelve hole bridge in order to have more
angle over the bridgebone. The bridge as a whole can be
lowered as well and the sleeve for the bridgebone can be
made a bit deeper. A securely placement of the bridge after
such a long time might ask for another compensation and
space for the first and sixth string.
An old cloth protects the inner soundbox and label from
damages coming from the liquids I maybe have to use.
To cure the discolourations I'm using oxal acid mixed
with ethanol and water.
Sides and back are much darker now also due to the turpentine
I'm using to determine the spots where the old lacquer still isn't
fully removed. It can thus be clearly seen on this picture: On
the right you can see a lighter, not natural spot.
Two times the same bridge. It is obvious that the old varnish
discolours even a black ebony bridge. And the white edges
become even light brown. The bridge can be lowered though
in fact the shape isn't bad at all. A good bridgebone will
do a better job than this worn original one.
Having to reglue this bridge I figured a 12 hole bridge
would be good solution. So I did together with a new
bridge bone and giving a bit more space along the
edges of the neck near string 1 (highest E)
A relacquering job has the advantage that all the "damaged"
spots can be sanded away before the new lacquer is sprayed.
The same thing counts for the neck and its' profile! A new
topnut has been added as well as the fingerboard has been
shaved towards the head to get a better playing action.
Provided with a nice action this guitar shines again and as
for sound, I think it to be much better without that thick
layer of polyurethane finish used so often by several
guitar companies in the seventies.
After having removed the lacquer the typical orangy colour of
these sixties and seventies Juan Estruch guitars had to come
back to my believe. The bare wood has been treated with a
water based stain, called CLOU. They provide these stains as
a powder in any colour you like but beware! When you put
on any varnish the colour becomes darker.
Union Musical Espanol Guitar
This guitar I was able to buy shortly after the Juan Estruch
Concierto 1. A lot of similarities to my opinion but also
differences. Most striking difference is the lacquer used.
On the seventies Estruch Concierto 1 they used a kind of
polyurethane lacquer and in quite thick layers. The lacquer
on this guitar is luckily much more modest. The sound of
this instrument was not that special but close examination
learned that someone heightened the bridgebone with a
piece of paper. Moreover, it was broken and after moun-
ting a new bridgebone the sound was much better!
Juan Estruch Concierto 2 1972
Still a beautiful back but with a disturbing spot at the
bottom left. First removing the old lacquer and then I
was able to decide what to do: As a result from a
severe fall the parts were deformed a bit and one
crack appeared to be uneven. I figured it to be the
best to saw out the crack and make an insert. After
sawing the crack the parts left and right remained
uneven. A Hair dryer was the solution: By heating
the place the glue softens and the parts almost
automatically came back with the support of some
clamping. Almost invisible now!
An elaborate stringtie block as often can be found
on the Juan Estruch guitars from a higher class.
This firm also sells music books so chances are very
little that they actually built guitars in the past.
Presented here is the case that went with this guitar.
I think it to be from the fifties / sixties and that would
explain other differences between this guitar and the
Concierto 1 here above as in 1970 Juan Estruch Sastre
died and his son Juan Estruch Pipo took over.
Also provided with another headstock
and a slightly bigger guitar body
Still very nice fretwork but they have to be removed
as the guitar shows a severe backbow. It can be cured
but a refret job is a must then.
A more protuding outside heel in comparison with the
later series in the seventies when Juan Estruch Pipo
was in charge.
I've seen several labels from the Union Musical Espanola
(UME in short) but this one was still unknown to us.
You can detect several other labels on a site about the
Valencia luthiers through the years, very interesting!
The "Barcelona made" Fustero tuners. Most of the
time beautifully engraved but mechanically spoken
they are not the best in business anymore.
For that reason these superior "Kolbe" tuners are
mounted. In fact this company often copied the Fustero
tuners but mechanically spoken they are superior.
The guitar as it is now. With new fretwork and a good
neck relief. Scale is 650 mm. Width at topnut 54 mm.
As the fingerboard is about 2,5 mm thinner
here after the shaving, the topnut had to be
redressed as well.
A shot with the first frets in view. Unplayed and
ready for a few new decades to serve its' player.
The soundboard has its' traces but the sides still
are OK as is the refinished back of course.
A new securely made bridgebone makes this guitar
sounds very good. Good balance and as you might
expect from a spruce top: Warm and clear sounding.
The nice narrow grained top, the inlay around the
edges and its' nice rosette can be studied here.
A picture from the inside where the grain direction
can be seen from the soundhole reinforcement of the
top. The same as in the Juan Estruch Concierto 1.
The back that got some new layers of Alkyd lacquer.
It will still be hardening out and during that process
you can detect a certain smell that will disappear.
The soundboard aged and is showing craquele but
with a guitar that old it is not a reason to relacquer
the soundboard and moreover, mostly the lacquer
used on the soundboard of a guitar has to be
respected to my opinion. The transverse bars are
executed in mahogany as are the individual glue
blocks for soundboard to their sides and the
reinforcements of the sides are also placed
identical. While the tranverse bars are executed
in mahogany, the 7 fan strutting itself has been
done in spruce. Two extra braces on each side of
the soundhole, not present in the Concierto 1.
The glue blocks are smaller executed in this
guitar which is also proof of a higher class
instrument than the Concierto 1 and 2.
A sharper heel on this older "Estruch" but the ebony
cover over the heel already is there as are the multiple
coloured bindings along the edges and through the
center of the back. With the high tension Savarez
strings this guitar really came to life!
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. 645 mm 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 but luckily not entirely through the
soundboard. 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 fingerboard
that in fact was original but gave a wrong octave pitch.
The tuners are of a cheaper quality but they are real
Fustero's from the Barcelona based company.
A quite heavily decorated bridge.
Good (enough) tuners that do their job well.
Careful examination learned me that these are
the more simple Fustero tuners from Barcelona.
So well known on almost any top quality
concert guitar from Spain. The Fustero
company is out of business what makes
them even more sought after.
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
and other people are in charge. Just the name Estruch
remained, no predecessors alass.
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!
Funnily enough I found the exact same rosette on a Telesforo
Julve guitar and with the same executed extended fingerboard -
no coincidence of course! This guitar has a three piece
soundboard as can be found more often on TJ's.
So the rosette here above comes from a Telesforo Julve guitar
and one might compare this with another more elaborate built
up rosette on a Salvador Ibanez e Hijos guitar also in this Blog.
I'll add it here as the red and white inlays only differ a bit
from the rosette of this Salvador Ibanez guitar. TJ took over
the Ibanez workshop and possibly some workers there.
In fact the rosette was already a bit of a confirmation that
the Valencian workshops exported a lot of their guitars to
other cities and abroad. The two abalone inlays were just
a funny addition that came to the clients' mind on this
S. Ibanez e Hijos labelled guitar from around 1920.
Another remarkable move was the narrow 5 fan bracing
in this guitar as is there in the Juan Estruch guitar
from about 1925 decribed here.
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.
A remark should be made here about the way of mounting
the well known button / worm gear invention as that hasn't
been always the same! Roughly between 1910 and 1920
the way the machine heads were mounted changed. Here
above presented is the way most companies are doing it
nowadays but before 1910 the worm gear was mounted
closest to the guitar body and the cylinder or capstan
followed. The same can be concluded when looking at
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 tension 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 tension 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
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
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 high 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 has 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.