c.1895 Tomas Estevan 11-string Guitar
A rare part of harp guitar history, and full of character


Click to expand photos to maximum size
NOTE: I always strive to represent instrument's color and condition as accurately as possible

Provenance: Some years back, a small cache of South American guitars was discovered, purchased and brought to the States. I eventually wound up with two 11-strings, including this one which I acquired from Randy Osborne of Fine Fretted String Instruments. You can see and hear it being demonstrated by a colleague of Randyís on this extended YouTube video. Sounds pretty nice, doesnít it?

Floating bass string guitars of Spanish influence were commonly played by the community of virtuoso guitarists that settled in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay in the late 1800's.  Surviving instruments are exceedingly uncommon, especially (obviously) in the States.

I havenít discovered anything on Estevan, but I do love his slightly ďfolkĒ aesthetic. Itís a delightful and unique small-bodied nylon-string guitar, being just 11-1/4Ē wide, but 5-1/4Ē deep! (4-1/2" deep at the neck) Upper bout is 8-5/8" wide, scale is 25-1/4" and total length is 38-1/2".

Iím guessing cedar for the top. Back, sides and headplate are Brazilian rosewood; the back is quite nice, the other pieces are fairly non-descript. Mahogany neck and some unknown light speckled local wood for the fingerboard. Wood and pearl embellishments.

The photos show the condition pretty well. The center back repair is open and there are some loose back braces. I havenít addressed it, and for all I know it was like that during the above video. The rest - a bit of side damage and the top cracks and bracing are stable. It plays incredibly easy as well, though one must of course deal with eleven friction tuners. Current stringing (by FFSI) as in the video, though various performer tunings were used and are possible. It has a padded soft case.

All in all, an extremely rare and charming piece of South American harp guitar and Spanish guitar history!

Price: SOLD


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