Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
630mm
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Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by 630mm » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:00 pm

Dear Ramirez Sound Fans,

I am feeling severely underrepresented in the Ramirez 1a sound department. I am certainly willing to deal with the larger body size, depth, scale length and nut width that often accompanies this design in order to get that Ramirez tone. A 4.5mm or less bass action is also fine.

Some of the Japanese copies I'm aware of are Tamuras, Matsuokas, higher model Takamines and Yairis from the late 60s and 70s. Can I also assume the Taurus made 70s student guitars would also qualify? Or the Hernandis/Garcia Concert Sherry-Brenner copies? How important is the transverse bracing to the tone? Should it probably be cedar topped? Or have added side stiffness?

In short, what would be the current best value, best likelihood of getting that tone short of buying the real thing?
2017 Benito Huipe "Bouchet" Spruce 655mm
2015 Francisco Navarro Concert Cedar 630mm
1977 Yamaha GC-5S Cedar 658mm
1972 Yamaha GC-6D Ezo Spruce 662mm

630mm
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by 630mm » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:34 pm

Sorry, maybe this should have gone in the advice subforum.
2017 Benito Huipe "Bouchet" Spruce 655mm
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1977 Yamaha GC-5S Cedar 658mm
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Jacek A. Rochacki
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by Jacek A. Rochacki » Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:23 pm

The Kenny Hill model Madrid has been described as "inspired" by Jose Ramirez 1A; some say for short that it is a copy of JR 1A. Well, I play one and it is a very nice guitar, surely not a Jose Ramirez but I do not regreat acquiring it.
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by dandan » Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:42 pm

In terms of Japanese guitars, you might try Matano, Cervantes or Takeo Koba. All are excellent Ramirez copies.
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es335
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by es335 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:28 pm

Yairi YC 130/135/140 models from the seventies as well including traverse treble bar. My recntly sold YC130 had quite some of the Ramirez timbre, not really par to the real JR 1a but sufficiently close to attest her being a Ramirez copy.

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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by 630mm » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:10 pm

Thank you for the responses. For the folks who have a real 1a or 2a and also a ramirez copy, are there any that on occasion outshine the originals?
2017 Benito Huipe "Bouchet" Spruce 655mm
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1977 Yamaha GC-5S Cedar 658mm
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rinneby
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by rinneby » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:14 am

First, if you are looking for the "true" Ramirez 1A sound, there is really only one way to go. A real vintage Ramirez from the 60-80s. With that said you have a few options.

1. Ibanez Andorra 2850 (the one with rosewood back and sides) - An all laminate, but high quality, guitar. Not a true Ramirez 1A copy by any means, but inspired of it and a nice guitar on its own.

2. Masaru Matano/Cervantes - Made true copies of the 1A with scale from 662-650 mm. These guitars are from the late 60s to the early 80s. The earlier (usually) the better and they are named "Clase" depending on year and woods/decorations. A Clase 250 from the 1969 could be equal or even better than a Clase 800 from the 80s.

3. Kazuo Yairi - Many different guitars, from student models to high end. Keep an eye open for the 70s YC-models. The higher the better. I have the top model YC-250, that is very nice Ramirez 1A copy, strong voice and great sustain. Stay away from anything below YC-100, to be on the safe side.

4. Ryoji Matsuoka - Almost always good guitars from the 70s and 80s. Also inspired by the 1A, but often with normal scale of 650-655 mm. The Matsuoka's from the 70s is usually a great buy and higher number means "better" guitar, but the same applies here as for the Matano/Cervantes guitars. An early low number model could be better than a higher later one. They are not quite as bright as the guitars mentioned above, but usually have a warmer, fuller, more midrange type sound.

Common for all the Japanese copies I tried is that they don't have quite the deep voice and round trebles that only a real 1A has. However, many prefer the sounds of these guitars more than the original. With this said, they could be great instruments anyway and you could always experiment with strings.

Regarding scale I would care too much about it. I played good sounding 660s and bad sounding, and easy playing and hard playing. Scale doesn't matter much in my opinion, the same goes for woods - Indian or Brazilian doesn't matter much. Spruce or cedar is just a matter of taste.

It's not uncommon that these old Japanese guitars comes with a thick layer of lacquer and many times they wake up with a total re-polish. Good luck with the hunt.

All the best from Sweden
/Jon
1965 - Masaru Kono No.5
1975 - Atushi Nakamura No.15
1977 - Kuniharu Nobe No.15
1996 - Masaru Kohno Maestro

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

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souldier
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by souldier » Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:13 pm

I've tried a Cervantes 800 which is a 1a copy and thought it was fantastic. Recently got to try a 1972 Ramirez 1a Cedar/BRW and the Cervantes was miles ahead of the 1a. The '72 1a I tried strangely lacked a firm and deep bass response and almost sounded choked, but had decent trebles. I suspect there is inconsistency among many 1a's out there - some are amazing, while some are just average or below. The Cervantes 800 on the other hand had it all - great balance, beautiful trebles, deep basses and great projection.

Each guitar is different, even among the same models with a wide spectrum of inconsistency.
Last edited by souldier on Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by 630mm » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:10 pm

Great information from both of you, thanks so much.

Souldier, did the Cervantes 800 you tried have a long scale, ced/brw lam? Do you remember what year it was?

Jon, do you think your 1a is a very good one or a representative sample? You would probably be one of the best qualified to make a comparison. Maybe I'm being a bit over optimistic shooting for a 1a sound without buying a 1a/2a.

Has anyone compared the box resonances between the 1as and copies? My Yamaha Grand Concerts all have box frequencies between G# and A. They sound great, balanced and bright, but they lack the bass and the roundness in the trebles I'm looking for when playing spanish music.
2017 Benito Huipe "Bouchet" Spruce 655mm
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by rinneby » Thu Sep 07, 2017 6:32 am

630mm wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:10 pm
Jon, do you think your 1a is a very good one or a representative sample? You would probably be one of the best qualified to make a comparison. Maybe I'm being a bit over optimistic shooting for a 1a sound without buying a 1a/2a.

Has anyone compared the box resonances between the 1as and copies? My Yamaha Grand Concerts all have box frequencies between G# and A. They sound great, balanced and bright, but they lack the bass and the roundness in the trebles I'm looking for when playing spanish music.
Yes I believe my Ramirez 1A was (it's now sold) a good example. In comparison with the Japanese copies I tried, I would not say it sounded "better", only different, it had softer trebles and a more "earthy" sound to it. Some 1A sounds fantastic, some doesn't, they can differ quite much to my understanding.

I think its hard to look for the "Ramirez" sound simply because: What is the true (if any) Ramirez sound?

My advice is to look for a guitar that makes you happy when you play it, rather than hunt for the particular sound of a 1A, whatever that is...

With that said you are on the right track with guitars from: Matano, Cervantes, Yairi and Matsuoka. I would also like to add Asturias (70s to early 80s) to that list, just because they almost always sounds and plays good.

All the best
/Jon
1965 - Masaru Kono No.5
1975 - Atushi Nakamura No.15
1977 - Kuniharu Nobe No.15
1996 - Masaru Kohno Maestro

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

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souldier
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by souldier » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:26 am

630mm wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:10 pm
Great information from both of you, thanks so much.

Souldier, did the Cervantes 800 you tried have a long scale, ced/brw lam? Do you remember what year it was?
Sorry I can't answer with certainty. I think it was from the 70's, indian rosewood, and I don't know the scale but it seemed to have decent playability. I have smaller than average hands but I currently play on a 660 scale without issue.
"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

630mm
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by 630mm » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:21 am

rinneby wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 6:32 am
I think its hard to look for the "Ramirez" sound simply because: What is the true (if any) Ramirez sound?

My advice is to look for a guitar that makes you happy when you play it, rather than hunt for the particular sound of a 1A, whatever that is...

With that said you are on the right track with guitars from: Matano, Cervantes, Yairi and Matsuoka. I would also like to add Asturias (70s to early 80s) to that list, just because they almost always sounds and plays good.

All the best
/Jon
I agree. Finding a sound characteristic you like, and then buying guitars over the internet in order to achieve it, seems like a risky/difficult proposition. I like to look at it as I am just trying to increase my odds with good information.

My biggest worry is acquiring too many guitars on the hunt, only to end up with the one I should have bought in the beginning.
2017 Benito Huipe "Bouchet" Spruce 655mm
2015 Francisco Navarro Concert Cedar 630mm
1977 Yamaha GC-5S Cedar 658mm
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by JohnH* » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:17 pm

Until recently, I owned a 1973 Ramirez 1a stamped "CLL" inside. I can agree whole heartedly with Jon when he noted that they can (and do!) sound quite differently from one to another. Mine 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. I replaced it with a 1991 Yairi CY140. Not sure where it fits in today's Yairi lineup, but in 2007 the CY140 and the CYM95 were Yairi's top guitars and both were Ramirez-based. Others in the lineup had Torres-style bracing. Mine is a beautiful guitar with solid Rio-grained and spider webbed rosewood back and sides and a very fine grained cedar top. It's sound is everything I had hoped the Ramirez would be and it is far more comfortable to play.
JohnH*
2013 Anders Sterner BRW/Spruce
1973 Ramirez 1a BRW/Cedar
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630mm
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Re: Japanese or Other Quality Ramirez 1a Copies

Post by 630mm » Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:29 pm

JohnH* wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:17 pm
Until recently, I owned a 1973 Ramirez 1a stamped "CLL" inside. I can agree whole heartedly with Jon when he noted that they can (and do!) sound quite differently from one to another. Mine 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. I replaced it with a 1991 Yairi CY140. Not sure where it fits in today's Yairi lineup, but in 2007 the CY140 and the CYM95 were Yairi's top guitars and both were Ramirez-based. Others in the lineup had Torres-style bracing. Mine is a beautiful guitar with solid Rio-grained and spider webbed rosewood back and sides and a very fine grained cedar top. It's sound is everything I had hoped the Ramirez would be and it is far more comfortable to play.
Thanks for the benefit of your 1a experience. I ended up winning a '76 Matano 600 and it seems like it will be a great guitar for spanish music. It is light in weight with good rich basses with some low end, good mid range presence/resonance without being overly muddy, and round and warm trebles. The harmonics are also surprisingly good.

There were a couple of JR 2a guitars I was watching, but this was much easier on the budget and hopefully easier to play.

I will probably also try the Alvarez/Yairis and Takamines/Hirades when the opportunity presents.

I'm still in the honeymoon period with the Matano, but with fresh EJ45s with a Seaguar Manyu 90lb g string it is sounding very nice.
2017 Benito Huipe "Bouchet" Spruce 655mm
2015 Francisco Navarro Concert Cedar 630mm
1977 Yamaha GC-5S Cedar 658mm
1972 Yamaha GC-6D Ezo Spruce 662mm

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