From the Winter 2016 issue of Classical Guitar
BY DAVID COLLETT | PHOTOS BY FELIX SALAZAR
David Collett is the president of Guitar Salon International
The Ramirez guitar Scott Tennant used to record The Segovia Sessions (the album’s tentative title) has had several owners since it left Andrés Segovia’s possession. The Maestro acquired it new in 1969. While we can’t confirm that he ever recorded with it, we have documentation in the hand of José Ramirez III stating that Segovia “habitually” played this instrument in his concerts from 1969 to 1980. After that, it went back to the Ramirez shop, where the neck was refinished. The instrument later had three other owners between 1980 and 1994 before it was purchased by Russell Cleveland for his collection of historic guitars. It remained there until November 2015, when GSI acquired it with the purchase of the entire Cleveland collection of 63 guitars.
The guitar’s soundboard is Western red cedar and the back and sides are CSA (“Central South American”) rosewood. The bridge is also made from CSA rosewood with maple and bone inlays. The neck is Spanish cedar with ebony reinforcement and a black African ebony fingerboard. The string length is 664 mm, nut width is 54 mm. It has the original gold-plated Fustero tuning machines. The nut and saddle are bone. The finish is catalyzed urethane, typically found on Ramirez concert guitars from this period.
The rosette is the classic “geometric flower meander with rope border.” Segovia appears in numerous photos from the period with a guitar with this type of rosette. But we can’t be certain that this is the guitar pictured.
While the above specs are standard for Ramirez guitars, this instrument features very eye-catching materials—particularly the dramatic grain patterns and coloring on the back and sides. Perhaps the most interesting aspect for collectors is that it is stamped internally on the heel with the initials “AM.” This signifies that it was built by Antonio Martinez, who, along with Mariano Tezanos (“MT”), was one of the two Ramirez workers whose guitars became very popular in the 1960s with the Romeros and Christopher Parkening, in addition to Segovia.
We at GSI realized that this guitar was not only historically important because of the Segovia connection, but it’s an exceptional musical instrument in every way. We decided not to sell it immediately, but to hold it for at least a year before releasing it for sale so that many players visiting our shop could experience this outstanding guitar. Starting with Scott Tennant, we received an overwhelmingly positive response from all who played it. (Click here to read player testimonials of the guitar.)
By pure coincidence, Scott was planning a recording of Segovia’s compositions even before he saw the guitar. After playing it, he immediately asked if the guitar could be used for his new recording, and we arranged for that to happen. We are planning a CD release concert at GSI with Scott playing the guitar. The public will get to hear Segovia’s guitar in concert one last time before it goes to its new owner. We will make a video of the concert that will be posted on our website so that the entire world can see and hear this historic guitar.