Construction: Classical Guitar
Top Wood: Spruce
Back and Sides Wood: CSA Rosewood
We have another guitar here in Madera from the historic master Antonio Marín Montero. Always it is a privilege.
Impressive the level that these guitars have reached in all aspects. After the maestro handed us his guitar at his workshop here in Granada we started to take pictures of it and one get impressed by the quality, the precision, the taste, the knowledge, the talent, the mastery of the tools to make every part of the guitar quite close to perfection.
The quality of the wood is another thing to be highlighted in Marín Montero guitars. He has his warehouse full of authentic jewels in wood pieces stored from so many years ago throughout his long career as a guitar maker. When wood of extraordinary quality was not as hard to get as it is today.
We can see top full of medullary rays so characteristic of the best quality tops to use on guitars. A back and sides of admirable beauty. In this case, the sapwood was left in the centre of the back on the joint part. Notice in the photos how the joint is hardly to see. Making an effect of the back as if it were made in a one piece wood, very nice, with a golden stripe in the middle (the sapwood) that gives a special character and aesthetics to this guitar.
The sapwood, for those who wonder where this different golden colour we find in this guitar back comes from, is the outermost part of the trunk of the tree where the sap flows towards the tree branches. It is the living part of the tree.
The details, which on several occasions in Madera we have already commented on the importance of them and that the accumulation of dozens and dozens of details that make up a guitar give it its high quality in all aspects.
One of them is playability, which is determined by many parameters such as the correct angle of the neck in relation to the top, the correct placement and elaboration of the nut and saddle, the frets, the fretboard… We can see that the Marin fretboard has given a slight drop in the bass part, this drop starts more or less at the 12th fret, a little bit before. In the same way the great importance of a well-made and well-thought bridge.
The bridge is one of the most difficult parts of a guitar to work out. Here is so perfectly executed. We can see that Marín makes a slight inclination with the tieblock. And I don’t mean the bridge bone that also has that inclination but what I talk about is the tieblock that also he made it with a slight inclination from the bass part towards the trebles part. Giving more height to the bass part than to the treble part.
The excellent execution of the neck in an ideal way for our preference to feel comfortable playing.
And then we also can talk about the excellent craftsmanship. For example see the purfling joints are made perfectly as we can see in the photos. And how difficult it is to make that part!
We also see a heel made with taste, elegance and precision. (see photos below for all these parts)
We can go into describing and admiring each part of the guitar as the level of work on it is impressive.
And as a guitar maker friend told me when we were analysing the guitar in his interior.
We could also say that the inside of the guitar (that part that many times the guitar maker wonders if he has to make it as perfect and clean as the outside because probably nobody is going to see it) is a clean and precise work almost like the outside. This is Marín’s way of working. The external part (visible) and the internal part (not visible) must have an equally precise work.
The construction system and fan bracing is the also famous Marin/Bouchet system that Master Antonio Marín uses since his meeting when they built together a guitar with the also historic French guitar maker Robert Bouchet at the end of the 70’s.
What can we say about the sound?
Well, It is the Marín Montero sound. That very recognizable sound. Deep basses, great sound balance, trebles and first string that sings the melodies with great ease and well projected, a wide palette of colours you can get with just a short right hand movement, big sound projection which is one of the reasons why so many guitarists today choose Marín Montero guitars for their concerts. The sound of the notes is rounded and feels very full. Wide range of dynamics to move the interpretation to the place you want. It is a pleasure to play it and enjoy the beautiful sound of the guitar.
In short, as I said at the beginning, it is a privilege for us to have this guitar in our stock for our clients.
Scale Length: 650 mm
Nut Width: 52.5mm
12th Fret Width: 62.5mm
Guitar Length: 980mm
Body Length: 480mm
1st Fret. 6th string to 1st string: 46.0mm
12th Fret. 6th string to 1st string: 51.0mm
Bridge. 6th string to 1st string: 58.5mm
Side Width Upper body: 94.5mm
Side Width Lower body: 93.0mm
Width Upper body: 283mm
Width Lower body: 375mm
12th fret to 6th String Height: 3.4mm
12th Fret to 1st String Height: 2.9mm
Tuning Machine: Rubner
For this guitar Marín Montero used Savarez Alliance Carbon (High Tension) strings
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 very similar to 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-