Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

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David_Norton
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Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by David_Norton » Wed Jul 01, 2015 12:25 pm

What information is known about the Spanish builder Jesus Marzal? A few websites claim that Marzal worked at the Ramirez shop, but that tale has been applied to so many people that it's hard to know facts. Marzal guitars come from the Valencia area, so it seems possible that this is a fictional name.

Any input is appreciated.
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by simonm » Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:47 am

This is an intriguing puzzle. I have no doubt seen the same references as you. So I though I would summarize what I found and see if it inspires someone else to do some detective work.

Everything suggests he worked for Ramirez at some point however his initials are not in this list: http://www.guitarsalon.com/articles.php?articleid=40 which of course is not necessarily complete and I assume only a small proportion of employees were allowed to sign in any case. Siccas who are a reasonably well know dealer in Germany also repeated the worked for ramirez story on at least one JM guitar.

Most of the stories refer to a factory called " Fabrica de guitarras Safor": this seems to have been in action in the 1970s & 1980s in Xeraco which is about 50-60km south of Valencia. Safor is a district name. There are comments in various places to the effect that some of the guitars were very good including David's own on another forum: "The American guitarist Lawrence Johnson used a Jesús Marzal instrument for his Complete Sor recordings in the mid 1980s."

This pdf http://www.jedistar.com/pdf/Valencian_l ... panish.pdf lists Jesus Marzal as being in Senia Ferer 4 in Xeraco in 1983. Not sure if the address refers to his home or the Safor workshop. The pdf also has the quite recent email address of the guy (Ton Bogaard from Holland) who compiled the list who might have additional information. The pdf has almost 6 pages of names of historical Valencia guitar makers.

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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by David_Norton » Fri Jul 03, 2015 1:25 pm

Thanks for this, Simon.

The Lawrence Johnson connection is what spurred this thread. I have not heard/known of anyone else using a Marzal guitar. "Worked for the Ramirez shop" could include a non-luthiery role as well, perhaps he was an office boy for a summer internship or some such. The few instruments I have seen for sale online have an interesting numbering sequence, date-month-year.

It certainly SEEMS plausible that Marzal is/was an individual builder (why would a factory use such a numbering scheme?) but there's not much solid evidence one way or the other.
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by simonm » Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:11 pm

My best guess is that "Fabrica de guitarras Safor" had one or more named "luthiers" and that some guitars were signed models much like Esteve and Adalid or Ramirez with its signed models.
I wonder if someone on Spanish forum knows a bit more.

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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by tmblweed1 » Fri Jan 22, 2016 7:09 am

Seems to me the "Siccas" reference should put an end to any doubt about this man.
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by EricKatz » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:09 am

I have contacted Ton Bogaard.
He has sent me some information. This two labels seem tp prove that Marzal is a real luthier.
Marzal (1).png
Marzal (2).jpg
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by David_Norton » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:28 pm

Sorry, labels prove nothing. Here's a "signed label" by Antonio Loriente, a thoroughly fictional name admittedly created by Tim Miklaucic at GSI.
870111699_o.jpg
And the fact Sicca's repeats the Ramirez story also is hearsay second-hand evidence.
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by Intune » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:11 pm

David, maybe you can direct your question to James Greenberg, proprietor of Zavaleta's guitars in Arizona, who has wide knowledge of historic and contemporary Spanish luthiers. I bet he'd know the answer. Good luck.
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by EricKatz » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:45 pm

Hi David,

I'm a bit surprised by your answer about the labels I posted yesterday. It proves nothing, you say. Labels can be falsified.
Yes, that's theoretically possible. But can you think of a reason why a factory would produce a false label with a fake name and an existing adress? Quite risky for their reputation, isn't it. And much ado for a handfull of guitars!

Ton has provided some labels that are at least strong evidence that there is a real luthier, by the name of Jésus Marzal.
Maybe it's your turn to come up with evidence for your suspicion that this could be a scam. You have formulated it as a question, but it implies that you are taken this possibility very serious. If I was Marzal (or his son) I would feel insulted.

I don't want to say much about the question if Marzal did work in the Ramirez shop. I really don't know. The source of this information might be Dream Guitars: "When you play this guitar you hear Marzal's roots in the Ramirez shop of Madrid." Paul Heumiller (the owner of Dream Guitars) writes: "Jesus Marzal learned his craft in the famed Madrid shop of Jose' Ramirez."
Maybe you should ask him. Anyhow, the fact that Marzal is not on a list of former Ramirez employers doesn't prove the hypothesis that he never work there.

-------------------

Here is the information I got from Ton Bogaard, an guitar afficionado who did some hobby research, made a website and published a list of Valencian guitar builders. It was an existing list, Ton added Jésus Marzal after finding five advertisements on the internet. But Marzal will soon be removed from the list, because Ton wants to focus on luthiers strictly from the town of Valencia.

The website of Dream Guitars has sold two Marzal's in the past. A Grand Conconcierto from 1987 with a signed label, date and the adress Senia Ferrer 4, Xeraco (Valencia) and the text "Jésus Marzal, luthier". There a YouTube Video dated 5 dec 2013.

The other one is a Grand Conconcierto from 1987. The picture of the soundhole doesn't show a label, the background of the hole is made black. There a YouTube Video also dated 5 dec 2013.

Ton Bogaard also spotted an advertisment in Holland for a Estudio model, dated 1983.

There was an auction in 2009 where they sold an Estudio 1984.

The last one is a Marzal 1988 on Siccas Guitars (3800 euro's, so it might be the Concierto model). The picture of the soundhole doesn't show a label, the background of the hole is made black.

The adress in Xeraco is not fake. Such an adress really exists as Google maps show. It's clearly not a factory. There no sign on the outside, though at the back of this private house could have been a workshop. But since all the guitars mentioned above are from the period 1984-1988, more than 27 years ago, Marzal has probably past away in the meantime.


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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by Tom » Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:38 am

until today I still cannot understand why someone so well respected like Tim of GSI would do something like that for the Loriente brand.

I feel the fictional name is still not as bad a so someone try to fraud a signature of a non existence "luthier".

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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by tmblweed1 » Sun Jan 24, 2016 1:52 pm

Here is an ad from craigslist in the triangle area of NC..

1988 "Gran Concierto" nylon string, made by Jesus Marzal in Valencia, Spain
Cedar top, Indian Rosewood back and sides. Clear tap plates above & below sound hole.
Purchased from the guitar shop in DC in '97 for $6000.
Most incredible booming bass range I've heard on a guitar, can sound like a cello.
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by David_Norton » Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:11 pm

Intune wrote:David, maybe you can direct your question to James Greenberg, proprietor of Zavaleta's guitars in Arizona, who has wide knowledge of historic and contemporary Spanish luthiers. I bet he'd know the answer. Good luck.
Email sent, waiting on a reply. Zavaleta's has a fairly extensive list of Spanish builders, and Marzal is not among them.

The biggest thing which seems odd to me is a total lack of biographical info on Jesus Marzal. There's no other established luthiers I know of who are entirely invisible online. No birth/death years, no photos of a person.

Here's another example (from the GSI website) of a high grade guitar with a signed label by a fictitious builder:
ortega.jpg
Ortegatxt.jpg
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by zavaletas » Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:21 pm

I don't know much about Jesus Marzal, except what has been posted here already. The expert on Valencia makers is
Ton Bogaard <ton-bogaard@hotmail.nl> He has been doing an in depth study of the history of guitar making in Valencia for several years. The label gives an address which is a small house, which probably is a his residence. The estudio guitars I see look like typical factory fair from Valencia, and so I suspect if he made guitars he also had guitars made for him. Common enough practice among guitar makers, as few could make a living solely on their own production.
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by David_Norton » Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:44 pm

Thanks James.

As above, the fact there is no specific biographical info on "Jesus Marzal" (other than vague statements of 'working for Ramirez' yet not being on the Known Builders list), there's no photos of the man, there's no photos of a shop other than this house, and there's no website. It's possible he passed away pre-Internet, but even so, you'd think there'd be SOME sort of vital stat biography (at least his birth-death year) posted somewhere.

I haven't seen a Marzal guitar from later than mid-1990s. I also haven't seen a reference to his alleged Ramirez connection prior to Lawrence Johnson's statement posted on his Sor website. This comes from Guitar Player magazine in 1989, in which Johnson says Marzal "worked at the Ramirez workshop in Barcelona", which makes it all even more mysterious.

I'd be quite happy to learn that Marzal is (was?) a genuine luthier, and not a made-up factory name like Ortega or Loriente, but the total lack of first-hand evidence is puzzling.
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Re: Jesus Marzal: real luthier, or a fictional factory name?

Post by EricKatz » Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:17 pm

OK, David, here we go. I got some very usefull information from Nowa Randall (http://www.randolin.com), an American luthier.
I'm just trying to help, so don't **** me off again.

This is what Nowa wrote me: "I worked/studied production work, as well as guitar and finish work with BMB Guitarras in 1988, as well as imported their guitars into the USA from 1984-88. Jesus Marzal was primarily a finish man, and did very little luthier/wood working work. His finish work was some of the best I have ever seen, and I learned much from him. His brother-in-law Batiste Bofi was the principal luthier/designer. I can check with Batiste about Jesus working with Ramirez, as I have never heard him speak of this. I do not believe he is alive. Several years ago he was very ill."

"The way it worked in the shop was each luthier/major player in the shop had a guitar labeled and designed under their name. For instance there is a Bertrand Martin model, and he was a business owner, and something of a designer, but in no way could he be qualified to be a luthier in the full sense of the word. Jesus on the other hand, as I said was a superb finish man, and in modern shops this qualifies one to be called a luthier. He did do some work working, but not to the level or understanding of Batiste or myself. Bertrand was a guitar player as well, so his major contribution was in how instruments played. They had someone named Anacleto, who was a susperb luthier wood-worker, but he was ONLY an employee and never received any credit.There were a number of players that were friends and business associates who gave feedback on playability, as neither Jesus nor Batiste were or are players. In the time I was there I gave them much feedback and help in making their instruments more playable, though unfortunately this was near the end of the shops life. Batiste Bofi still builds several guitars a year in Xeraco."

Some internet research shows that the adress of BMB was: Senia Ferrer 6, Xeraco.

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