Restoration of the “Vda. e Hijos de González” guitar, Madrid, 1870
EL GUITARRERO Y LA GUITARRERA
Francisco González Esteve was born in 1820 in Córgomo, in Ourense and moved to Madrid in 1835.
He was an engineer and inventor who, with time, ended up dedicating himself to the construction of guitars. He is credited with the construction of the first car in Spain, before the invention of the internal combustion engine, which consisted of a vehicle operated by levers.
Despite not being born in Madrid, he is considered a reference maker in Madrid school because of his great influence, not in vain he took José Ramírez I in his workshop as an apprenticed. Already in his time he was considered a guitar maker of great level, reaching win medals for their instruments at the Universal Exhibition in Paris.
He moved the workshop several times, from the first location on the street of San Isidro Studies, through the Toledo, then in Latoneros, to the last street Carrera de San Gerónimo, next to Puerta del Sol.
In 1851 he married María Cruz Carretero, with whom he had 3 daughters. The largest of them, Bárbara María
Concepcion, is the main depository of the testament of his father in 1879, following a serious illness. At the end of that same year, on December 29, Francisco González died in the general hospital in Madrid.
At the death of Francisco, and due to the age of Concepción, the widow seizes her future son-in-law, Enrique Románs Papell, to run the business. In 1881 Concepción and Enrique Románs are already married.
In 1882 Concepcion is mentioned as "guitarist", with what we could be before the first woman in Spain recognized in this professional category.
In 1891, and with domicile at number 33 on Calle de las Carretas, the business of "Viuda e Hijos de González" was established.
The business continues with the same name (including the widow) in the same place on carretas street until 1912. There it also continues between 1920 and 1927, but in these years under the name "Hijos de González".
In June of 1927 Concepción González dies, without testament. Apparently, his widower, Enrique Románs, and their son, Eduardo, inherit the business: "A workshop with a guitar shop located on the ground floor of Calle Carretas thirty-three".
The instrument that occupies this article is a very beautiful guitar.
The bottom is composed of three pieces of rosewood from Rio, with separating fillets of cypress, reinforced inside with 2 thick pine bars with their ends embedded in the contraaros. The rings are narrow and are composed of three alternate pieces, two of rosewood with a central cypress, joined longitudinally and separated by a double fillet also of rosewood and cypress. These boards are internally reinforced with strips of manuscript ruled paper.
The lid is made of two pieces of European spruce, symmetrical: it has two transverse structural bars of pine, above and below the mouth, resting on pawns, and a fan formed by 5 fine spikes whose upper end is embedded in a recess practiced on the second crossbar. The mouth is surrounded by four fine lines of inlaid alternating light and dark wood, probably walnut or rosewood and cypress or maple.
The central section, much wider and more showy, is composed of pieces of mother-of-pearl embedded in a black paste background, probably ebony powder with tail, with allegorical forms of waves, flowers and triangles, and carved in turn with fine black lines .
The mast and heel, with Spanish foot, are cedar, and the shovel, attached to the bias, too. This, in turn, is plated with a fine piece of rosewood on its front face.
At the end of one of the openings for the ropes, two gramm marks can be seen. This detail, together with the approximate dating of the instrument, which we can place around 1890, would indicate that the tuning machines are not original, but replaced original perpendicular wooden dowels.
The fretboard is quite thin and raised on the lid, and has brass frets installed. The bridge is made of ebony with a curious vegetal shape at both ends.
The instrument retains the original label, where it can be read "Vda. e Hijos de González, Madrid, 18..." awarded with the medal of 1st class at the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1867 "and another of the house" Musical Guiu, from Zaragoza, where it was repaired in 1955 with very little results and methods professionals.
The instrument arrived in very bad condition and had the following flaws:
- Loss of approximately 1/6 of the contour of the soundhole inlay, including the piece of wood belonging to the top itself.
-At some point, probably between the 50s and 60s, the bridge was modified to install metal strings, eliminating the tying block and lowering its overall height, which was split longitudinally by the frontal action of the saddle. It was also partially loose.
-To the same goal, a tailpiece was screwed to the end block, whose holes could still be seen.
-Longitudinal crack in the top, with separation of 2 mm.
-The back had a completely separate board and the other slightly loose, joined only by a few rough borders installed in the repair of 1955. In addition, both bars were loose for the most part.
-The top had both partially deconstructed structural bars, loss of several blocks, loss of half of one of the struts, due to the repair of 1955. In that intervention, in addition, 2 rows of very coarse fabric had been added. 4 pine plates glued under the top, in the shoulder area, under two thin cracks, and other 2 thick pieces of walnut, as a reinforcement, on both sides of the soundhole. In addition there were numerous drops of animal glue inside the top, back and sides. The weight that added all this extra material exceeded 25 grams.
- Loss of the 3rd fret.
-The sides had multiple cracks and their joints partially open.
-Almost total loss of purfling and binding of the back.
-Loss of a large number of blocks of the top and entire sections of the back linings.
STEPS OF THE RESTORATION
-Full opening of back to proceed with its restoration and access to the interior.
-Recomposition of the back and gluing of the bars in their original position.
-Fix the numerous splits in the sides.
-Closing the holes left by the tailpiece, keeping the central purfling.
-Fixing the structural bars of the top.
-Restoration of the main separated split of the top through the insertion of a new 50 year old spruce wedge, with the subsequent addition of light reinforcement spruce plates.
-Gluing and reinforcement of other minor splits in different points of the top.
-Replacement of the damaged strut, by a new one with 50 year old spruce wood.
-Making and gluing a light spruce plate under the soundhole of the instrument, in order to strengthen the area and serve as the basis for the recomposition of the decorative set.
-Confection of a wooden inlay similar to the original lost, and recomposition of the same.
-Confection of lost pieces of mother-of-pearl, and gluing in its original situation.
-Fill of spaces with ebony paste and glue.
-Engraving the finished pieces of mother-of-pearl, and inked them.
-Substitution of the back lining in areas where it was completely lost.
-Recomposing the bridge, for which I glued both halves, added an ebony base with the same silhouette, removed the bone decoration, added a block to tie the strings and covered it again with the bone plate. I rectified the saddle channel, respecting the original compensation for the basses, and made a new bone saddle.
-Preparation of a temporary custom reinforcement to glue the bridge.
-Rectifying the bars and linings, to adapt them to the curvature of the back.
-Fixing the back, closing the instrument.
-Cutting of the recess for the placement of purfling and binding.
-Confection of the purfling and binding for the back and gluing them.
-Partial re-composition of purfling and binding of the top.
-Elimination of all the finish.
-General polishing, preparation for varnish.
-Filling pores with pumice stone and varnishing with shellac.
-Make and install the lost fret.
-Finishing and polishing the fingerboard and frets.
-Adjust the bridge to the curvature of the top and gluing it.
-Cleaning and oilingg the mechanical tuning machines, grinding of the screw holes.
-Adjusting and polishing of bristles and assembly of the strings.