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In Granada, Spain, in the 50’s, there was a flourishing artisan activity with all kinds of craftsmen with a certain national prestigious who were dedicated to Granada ceramics, handmade clothes, furniture, Granada wooden crafts called Taracea, etc.
Here we find a very young Antonio Marín Montero (born in 1933) who was only 14 years old working in the furniture workshop of Don Claudio Carmona located in a well-known street of the city called Calle Elvira. Soon Antonio showed his talent for woodworking and the use of different tools and Don Claudio, despite his youth, appointed him head craftsman of the workshop.
As the years went by Antonio Marin felt attracted to making guitars. It was a job that required talent, skill and delicacy with the pieces of wood. Guitar making in Granada has a long tradition of 200 years with historical guitar makers in the 19th century such as Jose Pernas and Agustin Caro.
For Antonio, the skills he had acquired in furniture making with wood and tools could be taken to a much higher level with guitar making and brought to a final result close to a work of art.
There was one person who could help him with this. The guitar maker Eduardo Ferrer ran a very well-known guitar workshop in the city. Antonio’s father was a friend of Don Eduardo’s as they had made drums together during the Spanish Civil War.
Antonio Marín Montero started going to Eduardo’s workshop and asking him about the construction process. Eduardo’s father, Benito Ferrer, was also a great guitar maker from Granada born in 1843. So, learning with Eduardo meant going deep into the deepest and most deeply rooted tradition of guitar making in Granada. So, we find Don Eduardo teaching the art of construction to Antonio Marín Montero who, given his great intelligence and talent, soon knew all the processes involved in making a whole guitar.
Eduardo not only taught Antonio but also a large number of guitar makers from the present and from the history of the city. One of them was a friend of Antonio’s called Manuel Bellido who curiously enough had also been working with him in Don Claudio’s furniture workshop. So, the two of them got together to make guitars in the 60s. Guitars with a label called Montero y Bellido.
In 1974 something very important happened in Antonio’s career as a guitar maker.
Antonio has always been very sociable and has given friendships with so many people, among his friends at that time was a Japanese man called Taguchi. Taguchi, who had a home in Granada but during the year traveled all over the world, told him on those afternoons when they would have a glass of wine together in the workshop chatting that he knew a very famous French guitar maker that he had to meet and that he wanted to introduce to him. This French guitar maker was the one who made the guitars used by the prestigious Lagoya-Presti classical guitar duo. His name was Robert Bouchet. And it happened and in 1977 they met.
They became friends and Antonio admired Bouchet’s profound knowledge of the guitar, even on a scientific level he told me when I interviewed him for the book “The Granada School of Guitar Makers”. And Robert also admired Antonio Marin’s great woodworking and tool skills. Bouchet was much older than Antonio but that did not prevent them from becoming good friends and that same year they made a Bouchet-Marin Montero guitar together which the master Antonio still has with him and which is of extraordinary quality and historical importance. It combines Bouchet’s fan bracing with the craftsmanship and tradition of Granada that Marín Montero boasted.
The history of meetings did not end there and in 1979 another mutual French friend called Deseglise arranged for the two of them to meet again, this time in France in a small village in Normandy. Deseglise’s house was a beautiful French chateau with high ceilings. And again, they made three guitars together, Deseglise was also fond of making guitars. They spent a fantastic time together building guitars, drinking wine, and to top it all Deseglise’s wife had an oyster farm and they ate oysters to their heart’s content.
That same year Antonio Marin Montero and his nephew Jose Marín Plazuelo, at that time very young and already learning to make guitars together with his uncle Antonio, moved to a new workshop at the end of the Cuesta del Caldeiro and from 1979 until now (2022) they both continue to make guitars there. Marín Plazuelo has been working with his uncle for “only” 42 years side by side. And he makes exceptional guitars just like his uncle and follows precisely the same construction process.
This construction process is the so-called Bouchet-Marín Montero model which has given the master so much success all over the world and which has made him so famous.
One quality of Antonio Marín Montero that should not go unmentioned is his great human quality. Antonio has selflessly helped a large number of guitar makers both from Spain and abroad who have gone to his workshop to ask for advice and help and Antonio has offered to teach them everything they needed in an impressive manner of generosity.
Antonio is loved and admired by all the guitar makers in the city of Granada and by anyone who has the privilege of knowing him and enjoying his kindness, intelligence, humility, and endearing personality. And a very large part of the current tradition of guitar makers that we have in our city of Granada is due to him and his generosity in teaching his art to so many people who decided to stay and live and work in our city near the great master.
Alberto Cuellar -Madera Guitarras Founder-