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zaterdag 11 juni 2011

Vicente Arias Castellanos 1833 - 1914

A special Vicente Arias event has been held in Florence 2005.
This marks the growing popularity of this important builder.
There are 28 instruments known in existence all over the world.
13 instruments were to be seen at the event. Organized by
Stefano Grondona. I was invited but I had a performance.

As far as I know one of the 3 Vicente Arias guitars with a double 
back. I bought this one on a flea market in Belgium being not fully
aware of its' value and tonal qualities. Arias was the only luthier in the 
19th century whose work came close to rivaling that of Antonio de 
Torres. The other two double back guitars do have two holes in the
inner back and are both made in 1900. Javier Riba owns one in
pristine condition. It has never been out of Spain. Check youtube!
The Granada based luthier John Gray made a copy of that guitar.

Vicente Arias liked the use of green in his bindings. He often
repeated himself but not in the design of his rosettes. Most of them
differ from each other.  The sides are bookmatched as can be seen.

The exquisit workmanship of Vicente Arias cannot
only be admired by the way he made his instruments:
His rosettes are a challenge as well!
When he had some trouble with his health he ordered 
two rosettes at Manuel Ramirez's workshop.

I haven't seen labels of the later guitars that had to be
built in Madrid so if someone comes up with a later
label picture I would be very pleased.

And here it is! Found on the internet.

This back shows us the typical darkcoloured Rio Palissander
that was used being so common in the 19th century.
The tuners are a replacements.

A nice shot of the inlay work on this guitar.

For those who are willing to take a chance in copying
Vicente Arias: Feel free to use these measurements
and let me know your results!
But remember the thicknesses of the parts used
are thought to be very critical with this luthier.
Further in this blog better drawings with more
information regarding dimensions. In 2013 The Granadian
guitarreros John Ray finished a copy of the Arias of
Javier Riba. He ended up very close and as the lacquer
still has to loose its'  solvents it even will get better!


A view from the inside.
I hope that I pleased the forcers for Vicente Arias'
guitars to know a bit more about these remarkable guitars.
I still hope that someone comes up with a site dedicated to
this great luthier that also gives us the pictures of most of the
instruments of Arias still in existence. The double transverse
bracings in the lower bout have vanished in the other two
double back Vicente Arias guitars made in 1900.

Clearly visible here is the odd placing
of a double bar in the lower bout which is thought
not to be original but I doubt that regarding
the glue traces and the modelling of the bars.
After having restored a 1898 Vicente Arias
(a new fingerboard as the former restorer didn't
use the right scale ment by Arias) I discovered
the same double bar in the lower bout also
in this guitar. It has to be there!

I have this instrument for over thirty years now.
At the time I purchased it on a flea market I didn't
have the money to have it properly restored.
Though I'm a lot more expierenced now I certainly
would have had it done by restorers like
Bernhard Kresse. But on this picture you can
see I did my best at that time not even being
aware it was such a valuable instrument. 

Some pictures taken during the restoration process:
Clamps placed on the outer back to prevent more
cracking in the future. The picture at the bottom
shows the guitar the way it came to me with a
partly loose back allready.

Worldwide I allready got a lot of requests to make some
drawings of this guitar with dimensions of course so here
they are. Please take notice that the two transverse bars in
the lower bout are supposed to be non original.This was a
remark Bernhard Kresse made but he immediately responded
that with this sound he would let it be this way. The stiffness 
of the spruce used for the top of this guitar has never been 
determined so I cant' answer that question.  The thickness has 
been mentioned on the drawing itself. According to John Ray 
the thickness of the soundboard is only 1,6 mm. I measured it 
around the sound hole which in fact is not reliable! Apart 
from that one must keep in mind that the soundboard is doomed 
a bit, a feature that makes it possible to construct even lighter.
Just behind the the bridge measurement of the "dooming'
proofs it to be 5 mm at both edges.

As has been stated earlier and can be seen from the
other pictures provided allready, this instrument has a double  
back. The inner back was made from one piece of wood
and it was completely flat as opposed to the outer back
that is convex as is still common. The space between the
two backs is around 15 mm. The depth of the soundbox
gradually goes from 90 to 95 mm (outer dimensions -
to lower bout.)

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