José Ramirez III Spanish

Not on view

Five generations of the Ramirez family have been guitar builders and worked for the company that was founded in 1882. This beautiful example was built in 1967 when José Ramirez was the head of the company. It has a two-piece top of European spruce with fine grain that widens towards the edges. The two-piece back and ribs are of Brazilian rosewood. The neck is of Spanish cedar and the original geared pegs were replaced by Herman Hauser II with the Lansdorfer pegs that are present. The instrument was owned by the American classical guitarist Christopher Parkening whom Andrés Segovia called "one of the most brilliant guitarists in the world." Parkening used this guitar for several recordings and in many live performances.

The following was written by Christopher Parkening about this guitar in May of 2023:

In 1969 when I was performing in Chicago, Illinois, I gave Jim Sherry a call. He had the exclusive distributorship for José Ramirez guitars, and at that time, Andrés Segovia was playing a Ramirez on all of his concert tours. Jim invited me to come to his warehouse, and I felt like a "kid in a candy store"! There were guitars up and down the aisles, piled so high and so close that I could barely walk between them. I must have played more than 300 instruments over the course of three days.

Nearly all the instruments had a nice sounding bass, but the high E string usually carries the melody, so it was the trebles that I focused on. Jim told me that Segovia tested guitars in the same way, playing down the first-string fret by fret to see if each note "sang". There could be no dead notes, and I was looking for a warm, beautiful, rich tone. After I narrowed the over 300 instruments down to about 50 "gems", I started to play them longer. I used five pieces, playing the same passage on two or more guitars back-to-back. One of the passages was the beautiful middle section of Prelude No. 3 by Heitor Villa-Lobos, which has a high melody, and is a great test for the first and second strings.

Finally on the last day, I settled on one particular instrument. At that point, Jim said, "OK, now I am going to bring you a few guitars that I set aside for Andrés Segovia when he comes to town to play at Orchestra Hall next week." Jim explained that he had me do all that work in case he had missed a great instrument. Back at home, I waited nervously to see which instrument Segovia selected. When Jim called the next week, he said, "Well . . . I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that he picked your favorite instrument. The good news is that he also said the instrument was too much like the guitar he’s already playing on tour, so it wasn’t necessary for him to get another one." I asked if I could purchase that instrument, and Jim said, "No—I am going to give that guitar to you."

That guitar had the initials "MT," which—I learned years later—indicated that it was made by Mariano Tezanos Castro, the legendary luthier who built many of the Ramirez guitars that Segovia played.

This guitar was used to record my best-selling album, Parkening Plays Bach and for that reason, even today, I refer to it as the "Bach Guitar."

The Bach Guitar was used to record all or part of the following albums:
Romanza (1969)
Parkening Plays Bach (1972)
The Christopher Parkening Album (1973)
Parkening and the Guitar (nominated for a Grammy® award in 1976)
Portions of In the Spanish Style (1986)
Portions of The Artistry of Christopher Parkening (1993)

The Bach Guitar is featured on the cover of Parkening and the Guitar, The Christopher Parkening Album, Romanza, Simple Gifts, and The Artistry of Christopher Parkening. It also was my principal concert instrument for much of my performing career, which encompassed appearances with a host of renowned orchestras, and in recital in major venues around the world, as well as for many prominent collaborations with artists such as Placido Domingo on "Live from Lincoln Center," the CBS Grammy® Awards telecast with Kathleen Battle, and for solos on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.

#El Mestre by Miguel Llobet, played by Vladimir Gorbach, 2013.



  1. El Mestre by Miguel Llobet, played by Vladimir Gorbach, 2013.
  2. Sonata in b minor, K87, by Domenico Scarlatii, played by Vladimir Gorbach, 2013.
Guitar, José Ramirez III (Spanish, Madrid 1922–1995), Spruce, rosewood, ivory or bone, ebony, plastic, Spanish

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