José Ramírez III on Radio Exterior España

Dec 29, 2022

José Ramirez III on Radio Exterior España

In March 1963, Radio Exterior España went to our artisan workshop, where tradition has passed down from father to son and from century to century the secret of guitar making. Thus, this programme was heard on shortwave and internationally, with an interview with José Ramírez III.

Below, we offer the original audio and the transcription of the conversation:

What woods are used to build a guitar?

There are two kinds of guitars and each one requires its own type of wood, especially in the body.

Flamenco guitars are made with a cypress body, which is a white wood from a tree that grows in Spain. Concert guitars, however, are generally made of rosewood, which are South American, African and South Asian woods.

But, generally, the woods that are used for both guitars are German spruce for the top, ebony for the fretboards and cedar for the necks.

How long does it take to make a guitar?

A guitar can take, the whole process? A good guitar, two and a half or three months.

Can you explain that process to us?

It’s very difficult.

A little bit about it, without getting too technical.

The guitar starts with the selection of the wood, the joints of the top and back, the carving of the top and back, the sides and the preparation of the neck.

Once the sides have been selected, the top and back have been cut out, carved to their thicknesses and then the neck is attached first to the top and, on this union of top and neck, the already fire-treated sides are mounted, and then the back closes the case.

The sides, the borders, are lowered and then filled in with the borders. The fingerboard is carefully carved, as the fingering and the accuracy of its tones depend on it, and then the finish is sanded, polished, and the bridge is placed on it.

Among the medals and diplomas that we see here on the wall, we see one that catches our attention. It is on a red background and is a golden medal written in English with the date 1962 J. Ramírez. Could you explain it to us?

Yes, in the United States there is a magazine called “Flamenco’s Magazine” and this magazine did a survey last year about the best guitar maker.

They also did a poll on the best flamenco dancer and the best flamenco guitar player at the same time.

To whom did these awards correspond?

The best flamenco dancer was declared Antonio Gades, the best guitar player was Sabicas and the best guitar maker for me, that’s why I got that medal.

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