Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

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souldier
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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by souldier » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:22 pm

celestemcc wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:30 pm
I know so many people argue that scale length doesn't matter, but it truly does in my case. I don't even have particularly tiny hands, but much as I love this beautiful guitar, it's still a beast for me. My college teacher (a guy with good sized hands) used to say it was like playing a 2x4, and he wasn't wrong! But I bought it for *that sound*.
I currently play a 660 scale guitar and I have smaller than average hands, though my fingers are slender and flexible. I personally think that apart from the scale length of old Ramirez guitars, the neck shape and thickness plays a big role in perceived lack of playability. When I play certain Ramirez guitars I immediately notice the thick and boxy feel of the neck, which I feel contributes the most to its perceived lack of playability. My 660 scale guitar has a thinner and more comfortable neck and is quite a breeze to play in comparison to a 660 scale Ramirez 1a I got to try recently.
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celestemcc
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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by celestemcc » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:45 pm

Agree, Souldier, there's so many factors involved! When you add long scale to boxy neck, wide flat fingerboard and high action... whew!
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

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Beowulf
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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by Beowulf » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:53 am

souldier wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:22 pm
celestemcc wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:30 pm
I know so many people argue that scale length doesn't matter, but it truly does in my case. I don't even have particularly tiny hands, but much as I love this beautiful guitar, it's still a beast for me. My college teacher (a guy with good sized hands) used to say it was like playing a 2x4, and he wasn't wrong! But I bought it for *that sound*.
I currently play a 660 scale guitar and I have smaller than average hands, though my fingers are slender and flexible. I personally think that apart from the scale length of old Ramirez guitars, the neck shape and thickness plays a big role in perceived lack of playability. When I play certain Ramirez guitars I immediately notice the thick and boxy feel of the neck, which I feel contributes the most to its perceived lack of playability. My 660 scale guitar has a thinner and more comfortable neck and is quite a breeze to play in comparison to a 660 scale Ramirez 1a I got to try recently.
What neck thickness are you referencing with respect to reduced playability? My GC-10 is a 662mm scale and the neck is about 23mm at F1. Is this thick, thin or average?
1971 Yamaha GC-10

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souldier
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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by souldier » Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:35 pm

Beowulf wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:53 am
souldier wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:22 pm
celestemcc wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:30 pm
I know so many people argue that scale length doesn't matter, but it truly does in my case. I don't even have particularly tiny hands, but much as I love this beautiful guitar, it's still a beast for me. My college teacher (a guy with good sized hands) used to say it was like playing a 2x4, and he wasn't wrong! But I bought it for *that sound*.
I currently play a 660 scale guitar and I have smaller than average hands, though my fingers are slender and flexible. I personally think that apart from the scale length of old Ramirez guitars, the neck shape and thickness plays a big role in perceived lack of playability. When I play certain Ramirez guitars I immediately notice the thick and boxy feel of the neck, which I feel contributes the most to its perceived lack of playability. My 660 scale guitar has a thinner and more comfortable neck and is quite a breeze to play in comparison to a 660 scale Ramirez 1a I got to try recently.
What neck thickness are you referencing with respect to reduced playability? My GC-10 is a 662mm scale and the neck is about 23mm at F1. Is this thick, thin or average?
I haven't really taken concrete measurements so it's hard to say. But perceptively I can easily tell when a guitar has a thicker or thinner neck. Neck thickness and playability is a very personal and subjective thing. I'd imagine players with very large hands will much prefer a thicker neck, wider nut width, wider string spacing, etc. With guitars it isn't a one size fits all.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

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Beowulf
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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by Beowulf » Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:19 pm

souldier wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:35 pm
I haven't really taken concrete measurements so it's hard to say. But perceptively I can easily tell when a guitar has a thicker or thinner neck. Neck thickness and playability is a very personal and subjective thing. I'd imagine players with very large hands will much prefer a thicker neck, wider nut width, wider string spacing, etc. With guitars it isn't a one size fits all.
Lacking any other data source, I used the measurements of 82 guitars in "A Collection of Fine Spanish Guitars from Torres to the Present" by Sheldon Urlik.

At F1:

Range: 19mm-24.5mm
Average: 22mm
Median: 22mm

67 of the guitars fell into the range of 21mm-23mm. So, perhaps we can say that 21mm-23mm is average, below 21mm is thin and above 23mm is thick. Though as you say, this will depend upon individual hand size (and shape) and personal preference.

Segovia had pretty large, powerful hands (though with small fingertips) and his 1937 Hauser is 21mm at F1.

In this thread: viewtopic.php?f=107&t=109801&start=75#p1226978, Reymundo rated his 2016 1A Elite as the least "playable" of his 4 instruments. I wonder if it has anything to do with the neck thickness...or simply the longer scale?
1971 Yamaha GC-10

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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by Philosopherguy » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:03 am

I don't think it is easy to assign the term playability to any one factor. It is a number of factors, of which scale length and neck thickness are just one variable in amongst a number of other factors. Some factors off the top of my head are:
-the flexibility of the top (I once had a guitar with low action and where all the factors were very good. But, it had a VERY stiff top and I think the guitar just about gave me muscle issues in my arm after playing it. I didn't enjoy playing the guitar, even though it sounded very beautiful. My opinion is that if the top "gives" a little as you depress the strings, the overall hand tension/string tension will be a little lower)
-the string height at both the nut and the saddle. So many people just think of the saddle and forget the nut height. I don't know how many guitars I have played over the years where people had adjusted the saddle and left the nut a mile high to ruin the lower fret action. And they wondered why they were getting frustrated with their guitars?!)
-string spacing (I think a very important variable)
-amount of space from the string to the edge of the fretboard/bevel on the frets (causes tension in the hands if it's too close for me)
-scale length(nowhere near the most important variable. I can easily switch between 650/640/658 the 664's I have played. The issue for me on the longer scales was the string spacing on the wider nut more than the distance between frets... I have very regular sized hands. But, they are very flexible from playing the guitar for so many years.)
-neck thickness (too thin isn't very comfortable to me, neither is too thick. However, my guess would be that 90% of all guitars fall within an acceptable norm. Every older 1A I have played I didn't find the neck overly cumbersome to play)
-neck shape

The old Ramirez suffered from a few of these things: wide string spacing from the 54mm nut(easily fixable), high action (debatable if you can fix it on certain guitars), and a long scale. If you can fix the first two, I don't think the scale will be too bad for MOST people, not all of course as there are always exceptions from people who have different issues.

I'm sure there are more variables if you keep breaking things down, but these are the most noticeable for me on guitars.

Martin
*************************************************************
2013 Ramirez 130 Anos - Spruce
2013 Ramirez 4NE - Cedar
1998 Dean Harrington - Spruce
1977 Kuniharu Nobe - Spruce
1971 Yamaha GC3 - Spruce

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Beowulf
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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by Beowulf » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:45 pm

Philosopherguy wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:03 am
I don't think it is easy to assign the term playability to any one factor. It is a number of factors, of which scale length and neck thickness are just one variable in amongst a number of other factors. Some factors off the top of my head are:
-the flexibility of the top (I once had a guitar with low action and where all the factors were very good. But, it had a VERY stiff top and I think the guitar just about gave me muscle issues in my arm after playing it. I didn't enjoy playing the guitar, even though it sounded very beautiful. My opinion is that if the top "gives" a little as you depress the strings, the overall hand tension/string tension will be a little lower)
-the string height at both the nut and the saddle. So many people just think of the saddle and forget the nut height. I don't know how many guitars I have played over the years where people had adjusted the saddle and left the nut a mile high to ruin the lower fret action. And they wondered why they were getting frustrated with their guitars?!)
-string spacing (I think a very important variable)
-amount of space from the string to the edge of the fretboard/bevel on the frets (causes tension in the hands if it's too close for me)
-scale length(nowhere near the most important variable. I can easily switch between 650/640/658 the 664's I have played. The issue for me on the longer scales was the string spacing on the wider nut more than the distance between frets... I have very regular sized hands. But, they are very flexible from playing the guitar for so many years.)
-neck thickness (too thin isn't very comfortable to me, neither is too thick. However, my guess would be that 90% of all guitars fall within an acceptable norm. Every older 1A I have played I didn't find the neck overly cumbersome to play)
-neck shape

The old Ramirez suffered from a few of these things: wide string spacing from the 54mm nut(easily fixable), high action (debatable if you can fix it on certain guitars), and a long scale. If you can fix the first two, I don't think the scale will be too bad for MOST people, not all of course as there are always exceptions from people who have different issues.

I'm sure there are more variables if you keep breaking things down, but these are the most noticeable for me on guitars.

Martin
Quite so Martin...I just wondered if the neck thickness was a significant parameter. On further checking, unless a 664mm was specifically requested, the 2016 1A Elite would be 650mm. My 662mm GC-10 was a bear to play at first until I dropped the action. A couple of other factors: technique and body position.
1971 Yamaha GC-10

JohnH*
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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by JohnH* » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:18 pm

About five years ago, I asked Dave Collett at GSI pretty much the same question:
Was there a span of years when guitars from the Ramirez shop were less than stellar, or perhaps there were fewer stellar guitars coming out of the shop than in the mid-60's to mid-70's?
Dave's reply:
The 70’s and 80’s were high production years for Ramirez. They had something like 35 builders working on the 1a models, and were doing over 1000 concert guitars per year. This period is regarded as hit-or-miss by most buyers (there were some great guitars being built in these years, but not all guitars). Also, playability at this time can be difficult depending on the guitar, they had long necks, wide fingerboards and extra relief in the way the neck angles are attached to the box. Since 1992, this has all been corrected – the necks were re-engineered and Ramirez downsized to 6 workers, producing just over 100 concert instruments per year. The quality control from the mid-90’s until now has been pretty much airtight and playability has never again been a concern.
Until recently, I owned a 1973 Ramirez 1a stamped "CLL" inside. It had all the negative attributes often associated with guitars from the Ramirez "Golden Years": high action, clubby neck, difficult neck angle... in short, it was a beast to play and, to be honest, it didn't even sound very good. It now has a new home somewhere.
JohnH*
2013 Anders Sterner BRW/Spruce
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DTut
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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by DTut » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:28 pm

As far as which years are best for 1a's , I think it is really hit or miss. I've had a few 60's and they were 'ok'. I've had a '72, '78, '84, which were better. I had a '77 which sounded like it had cotton stuffed in it. I now how have a 1980 which is by far the best that I've ever owned. It was built by "5" FWIW.

(I should mention I've never had a 60's M.T. or A.M. which would probably be superior to anything)
Fort Collins, Colorado
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zavaletas
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Re: Consistency of Ramirez 1As of Various Vintages

Post by zavaletas » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:32 am

Playability of many of the 1a is often a problem. Segovia apparently preferred a long scale 664mm, and has he had powerful hands, liked a high action 5 or 6mm at the 12th fret, compared to modern standards of 650mm and under 4mm. If there is enough bone showing above the bridge, the action can be adjusted (but 2mm of bone is needed to lower the action 1mm at the 12th fret). While it is possible to bring the action of problematic 1a guitars into modern ranges, lowering the action changes the break angle over the saddle, and so alters the guitar's musical character. There are two other common fixes. The first involves planing the neck or fingerboard, essentially changing its angle. The second, accomplishes the same thing but involves heating and bending the neck, both of these take expertise. Personally, I prefer the heat treatment as the least invasive, and can conserve the break angle of the strings over the saddle.
James, Zavaleta's La Casa de Guitarras

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