New York, USA, 1956
German Spruce Soundboard, Brazilian Rosewood Back and Sides
Ebony fretboard with 650 mm string length
$ 10000 SOLD
In fine condition, this is a superb guitar constructed by the first great American master luthier in 1956. Finished in the warm glow of French polish, the look of the guitar is elegant, along the lines of Hermann Hauser Sr., and the tone is enchanting with crystalline singing trebles and deep resonant basses.
Manuel Velazquez was born in Puerto Rico in 1917. He began his career as a furniture maker, and built his first guitar at the age of 12. He learned the craft from a brother who repaired violins and guitars, and from a relative in Spain who sent him written instructions. Impressed by Velazquez's developing workmanship, guitar maestro Jorge Rubiano encouraged him to devote himself entirely to guitar making.
In 1942, Velasquez moved to New York City where he initially worked at a shipyard, and later opened his workshop. Here he developed a fine reputation as a luthier due to the brilliant tone and impeccable craftsmanship of his guitars. In order to satisfy the growing demand for his instruments, he quit his cabinet making job in the shipyard and established his workshop in Manhattan where this guitar was made.
Velasquez returned to his native island of Puerto Rico in 1962. Here, sponsored by a government agency, he began to build guitars again in larger quantities until his return to New York in 1966.
After his return to New York in 1967, Velasquez worked alone, limiting his production to 10 to 15 guitars a year. Due to personal reasons, Velazquez again moved back to Puerto Rico in 1972, with his wife, three daughters, and son. He continued to produce guitars with the same dedication and quality that has given him worldwide recognition.
In 1982, Manuel Velasquez again returned to the United States, this time settling in Arlington, Virginia, to be close to his first grandchild. Here he furthured his reputation as one of the master luthiers, gaining honorable tribute in 1989 by the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society, Inc.
Velasquez moved to Florida in 1991 to retire. Here he has helped his son, Alfredo, begin a career as a guitar maker, and is now teaching one of his daughters, Graciela, as well. Due to the continuous demand for his instruments, he has returned to his workshop to fulfill "a few special orders". The shape of the guitar and the depth of the body remain traditional, patterned after Hauser's guitars.
Manuel Velasquez is a world-class builder of the Spanish style guitar. Today, his guitars are sought and praised by professional guitarists from all parts of the world, many of whom consider his work second to none. A number of his colleagues have rated him as perhaps the greatest living luthier working outside of Europe. Velazquez guitars have been owned by many notable guitarists, including Paul Simon, Jorge Morel, Rey de la Torre, Harry Belafonte, Ichiro Suzuki, Earl Klugh, and Eliot Fisk.
There is playing wear, including a bare patch on the bass side of the top made by thumb nail abrasion, but his Velasquez is in excellent condition structurally.The bearclaw German spruce top was repaired by Velasquez 20 years ago and refinished by him. The Brazilian rosewood back and sides show some wear but have no cracks or repairs.