So, I just came back from Madrid where I went with my wife and spent 7 days.
First of all ART ART ART... the stock of pictures you can look at in Madrid is absolutely overwhelming: Prado, Reina Sofia, Thyssen-Bornemisza ... wow.
Visited also some luthier shops and Guitarras de Luthier. The general experience is that when you come from the street they take a rather reserved stance and don't treat you very serious.
Most strongly i got that Impression at Ramirez shop, where they barely dragged out some greatly overpriced manufacture made instruments of lessen then great quality, one of them obviously made in China and labeled for them (though this one was better than a 3300 Euro 'hand made' thing they called a 'student' model
). I'm sure they have some beautiful guitars in their vault but I wasn't welcomed to come in ...
At Conde Hermanos Atocha they showed me some flamencas (that was what I asked for) with nice sound but very poor build quality - really nothing so exciting, and then some negras which just didn't cut it for the asking price.
Guitarras de Luthier might be a well stocked shop, but they are also quite reluctant to show much. I would have had to be much more insisting, which is not so much my character.
Manuel Conde was not interested, Felippe Conde was closed when I walked there. Felix Manzanero was very friendly person and he makes decent instruments, but I didn't find there anything that really inflamed my fancy. Jose Romero was closed when I went there.
On our last day we found the shop of Juan Álvarez (actually Juan Miguel Álvarez, because Juan died some years ago, but his son continues to label his guitars with just Juan Álvarez and also to count from the beginnings of the workshop 1946). Here I spent some hours checking some flamenca blancas and also some classical guitars. I must say, Juan Miguel Álvarez is not only a friendly man with great building experience, having built or supervised more than 1000 guitars since 40 years, but also a very serious guitar maker.
He works in his own workshop (I could watch him french-polishing a gorgeous Brazilian Rosewood classical) and has 6 makers under him who do the less critical works in lower category models. He is not outsourcing his guitars to other makers or factories for greater output. His work is relatively high standard by Spanish standards, and the guitars are of great sound. I bought a flamenca blanca which was by far the best guitar I played in Madrid and also what I know else. Also I tried a cedar/EIR classical which was absolutely gorgeous sounding - it reminded me very much of my Sascha Nowak cedar/EIR . I think, if you are in Madrid, this is an address worth checking out! (Juan Alvarez, Calle don Pedro, 7)
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...
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