From the Fall 2017 issue of Classical Guitar | BY ADAM PERLMUTTER
Ramírez—whose instruments have been played by everyone from Andrés Segovia to Chet Atkins—is one of the most celebrated names in lutherie. This Spanish guitar dynasty began in 1882, when the freshly apprenticed guitar maker José Ramírez I opened a workshop at Concepción Jerónima No. 2, in Madrid.
Five generations and more than 135 years later, Amalia Ramírez, daughter of José Ramírez III, presides over the company while instructing her apprentice niece and nephew, Cristina and José Enrique.
For many players, owning an instrument made in Ramírez’s workshop—costing in the five-figure range—is well out of reach. Luckily for cost-sensitive players, Ramírez also offers its Studio line, a series of relatively affordable guitars that the company has been outsourcing to other Spanish shops. The latest addition to the Studio lineup is the Guitarra del Tiempo, which is a terrific instrument in all aspects, with a modest price tag.
The Guitarra del Tiempo—the name translates as “guitar of the time,” a reference to Ramírez’s long history—is the successor to the popular 130 Años anniversary model. It is a traditional offering, with a cedar soundboard (spruce is optional) and Indian rosewood back and sides—all solid—and a 650-millimeter scale length fretboard.
The first thing I notice about the Guitarra del Tiempo, aside from its intoxicating smell, is its impressive sustain. Whether I play open strings, fretted notes, or natural harmonics, the notes hang in the air for a long time. The guitar feels quite powerful and projective, perhaps because of its newly enhanced top bracing, and it has an obviously wide dynamic range.
Overall, the Guitarra del Tiempo’s voice is warm and lush, with a beautiful roundness to notes in all registers. The trebles are clear and singing, and the bass is richly present but not overpowering. Whether I run through Damien Aribert’s “Nin-Nin,” a bossa nova–inspired piece presented in the Summer 2017 issue, or an arrangement of a John Dowland lute piece, the guitar feels inspiring to play.
With its shallow rounded neck and comfortable action, it’s also a breeze to play—all regions of the neck and barre chords included.
BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED AND BUILT
The Guitarra del Tiempo has not just a handsome voice, but an attractive appearance as well. The review model had a lovely set of woods: tightly grained cedar, with no visual defects, and quartersawn rosewood with the deepest chocolate coloration. The floral motif used on the rosette and echoed on the bridge’s tie block is a nice flourish, as are the fine red and green definition lines on the purfling.
My only complaint has nothing to do with the craftsmanship of the guitar and isn’t a deal-breaker, but the Ping tuners did not have smooth tuning action, and this was especially noticeable when I tuned the sixth-string down to D.
Elsewhere, the guitar is very well built. Its gloss finish is buffed perfectly and feels unobtrusive. The bone nut and saddle are perfectly notched, and the frets bear no roughness at their edges. Inside, the bracing and lining were attended to with similar care and attention.
The Guitarra del Tiempo was clearly designed as a top-quality option for the intermediate or advanced student, and it excels in this capacity. But with its sonorous voice and easy playability, this fine Spanish-made guitar would not be out of place in the concert hall or recording studio.
Ramírez Guitarra del Tiempo BODY Cedar soundboard (as reviewed); Indian rosewood back and sides; gloss polyurethane finish NECK Cedar neck; ebony fretboard; 650 mm scale length; 52 mm nut; gold open-gear Ping tuners with ivoroid buttons EXTRASAugustine Regal strings; TKL hardshell case PRICE $2,284 (street) Made in Spain goldtonemusicgroup.com/joseramirez