My great-great-grandfather Domingo Ramírez de Galarreta y Martínez de Abad was a multifaceted man: he was a landowner, horse breeder, builder, master carpenter… He had six children, three of them boys: José, Antonio and Manuel, and all three chose the trade of guitar maker.
José (Ramírez I) was the teacher of his younger brother, Manuel, and we do not know if he was also the teacher of his middle brother, Antonio, as we know very little about him. We only know that he had his guitar shop in Logroño, that he took over his father’s land and horse breeding, and that when he was still very young he disappeared in strange circumstances and his family never heard of him again.
The Ramírez generation’s passion for the guitar
José and his two brothers must have been very fond of this profession when José himself used to say that the guitar maker who did not die in a charity hospital was because he did not have the money to get there.
José Ramírez II was the teacher of other guitar makers, and one of them was my father, José Ramírez III, who was, in turn, the teacher of his son José Ramírez IV and myself, as well as teaching the trade to a large number of disciples. It is true that, although my father chose to follow the family tradition voluntarily because he loved his profession with the same intensity as his predecessors, he considered that his son was inevitably predestined to follow the same path, even if it had not been his own choice.
Fortunately, my brother, José Enrique (Ramírez IV), although he rebelled against such an imposition, when he began to learn the trade at a very young age, also learned to love it, as I did, although in my case it was rather the other way around, that is, it was assumed that I, being a woman, would not have to follow that path. However, precisely because of this, I secretly decided that I would end up being a guitar player, and so I did. The truth is that my request to enter the workshop to learn the trade was very well received by both my father and my brother and both were my teachers.
A guitar maker’s soul since childhood
My brother decided not to impose on his children the obligation to become guitar makers, like his predecessors. He left them total freedom to choose the path they wanted. Years after his death, I understood that it was time to ask them if they wanted to continue the family tradition or not, and so I did, asking them to think about it carefully and that it could only be two of them, as a prudent measure to protect the continuity of the business.
And so it was that Cristina and José Enrique, the fifth generation, decided to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors in this beautiful and uncertain profession, devoting themselves to it with all the passion and dedication that those of us who have been paving the way for them for 140 years now have devoted to it.
And now comes the anecdote that has amused all of us in my family so much. When José Enrique was 7 years old, they did one of those surveys at school to find out the vocation of the pupils. The teacher, enthusiastic and pleasantly surprised, called his mother, my sister-in-law, to tell her about the originality of her son, who said without a moment’s hesitation that when he grew up he wanted to be a guitar maker. “What an original child! “she said, “To choose such a peculiar and unusual profession! “Of course,” replied my sister-in-law, “it’s because his father is a guitar maker. And, well, now José Enrique is already a guitar maker and teacher to his sister Cristina, what more could you ask for?
Article written by Amalia Ramírez