Santos Hernandez (Madrid, 1873-1943) started an apprenticeship very early in Valentin Viudes’s workshop and then moved to José Ortega’s Granadinian workshop. After moving to a few other workshops and serving as a soldier for Spain, he eventually took over Enrique Garcia’s position in Manuel Ramirez’s workshop in 1905. His involvement in building Andrés Segovia’s famous 1912 Manuel Ramirez sealed his reputation as an extraordinary luthier. He opened his first workshop in 1921 after working for Manuel Ramirez’s widow along with Domingo Esteso.
At initial observation, the 1918 Santos Hernandez guitar remarkably mirrors the style and craftsmanship of his mentor, Manuel Ramirez, manifest in the shape of the head, rosette, and heel. Constructed during the same year that Santos opened his personal atelier, speculation suggests that the material resources for this particular guitar were possibly procured from the widow of Manuel Ramirez. During this period, Santos still completed instruments under the “Viuda de Manuel Ramirez” labels for his former master’s workshop. Intriguingly, the label on this guitar demonstrates one of the earliest instances of Santos Hernandez’s “Greek style” label, accompanied by the Calle Aduana 27 address. A near-identical guitar, sharing the same label and dated to 1918, has been documented in “La Chitarra de Liuteria” (“Masterpieces of Guitar Making”) by Stefano Grondona and Luca Waldner, 2001, on pages 117-118. The composition of the guitar entails the use of rich, dark pre-CITES Brazilian rosewood for the back and sides, while the top is adorned with European spruce. The French polish, though original, exhibits a venerable patina, a testament to years of usage. Remarkably, aside from the re-fretting, the guitar retains an authentic, unmodified condition, never having been opened or modified. A handful of minor cracks have been meticulously repaired using a conservative method — the top is reinforced with seven small cleats internally, while the back has been repaired using adhesive, devoid of any cleats. The tonal character of this guitar is a harmonious blend of warmth and clarity, balanced with a focused resonance and a profound, antiquated sound. It possesses sufficient volume and power to appease contemporary guitarists. One remarkable feature is its extraordinary sensitivity to tonal modulation with the slightest right-hand movement. In our estimation, this instrument embodies the epitome of what a guitar should represent, embodying all the traits that render the Spanish guitar distinct and inimitable among the array of concert stage instruments. This guitar, held in high regard by players over the past century, is a beautiful manifestation of the introverted, enchanting tonal quality intrinsic to early Santos Hernandez creations at his apex of craftsmanship.
Watch the presentation video of this particular guitar below, where you will find a lot of additional information about its playability and sound.
|Back and sides:||Brazilian rosewood (pre-CITES)|
|Air body frequency:||E/F|
|Strings:||Knobloch EDC 34.0|