History of the Handcrafted Guitar's Workshop | Felipe Conde

1887 - 1937

HAVING BEEN TAUGHT BY MANUEL RAMÍREZ, DOMINGO ESTESO CREATES BEAUTIFUL GUITARS CONSIDERED MASTERPIECES NOW DAYS.

Read more

1887 - 1937

First epoch “Domingo Esteso”

Domingo Esteso is one of the great figures in the history of the Spanish guitar. He began as an apprentice at the workshop of the celebrated Manuel Ramírez, one of the founders of the so called Madrid School of Spanish guitar construction. When Ramírez died, Domingo Estesto continued working at the workshop for his widow adding his name on the guitar labels.

During this time, Esteso coincided at the above mentioned workshop with other greats of the Spanish guitar construction such as Santos Hernández and Enrique García. The three of them together went on to become the most notable and celebrated disciples of Manuel Ramirez.

The guitars constructed in this period are still distinguished from all others either for the exquisite work or their outstanding sonorant qualities.

In 1915, Domingo Esteso, together with his wife Nicolasa Salamanca (who was in charge of varnishing of the guitars) establishes his own workshop at the Nº 7 Gravina street at the heart of Madrid. This was the most prolific period of Esteso’s creative career. Many guitars from this period of impeccable workmanship, beauty and sound can still be seen thanks to careful preservation by their owners.

Many of these guitars were destined for the Argentine market (there was a special label fashioned especially for Romero y Fernández of Buenos Aires) due to the difficult political and economic situation in Spain of the time and the high price of the guitars.

In 1926, the nephew of Domingo Esteso and my uncle Faustino Conde enters the workshop as an apprentice. Three years later my father, Mariano Conde becomes an apprentice at the workshop as well. This point in the history of our family tradition marks the passing down of the art of guitar construction to the second generation.

Under the guidance of Domingo Esteso, my uncle and father learnt the trade and art of guitar construction. They learned the trade and worked together until Esteso´s death in 1937 in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. He died of a respiratory disease purportedly caused by a draft on the workshop and chronic scarcity of penicillin at this difficult time. The construction of the guitars continued under Esteso’s name until 1939 but on a very small scale due to the Civil War.

1940 - 1960

DOMINGO ESTESO'S NEPHEWS INTRODUCED SMALL CHANGES ON THE GUITARS TO ACHIEVE THE BEST SOUND AND QUALITY.

Read more

1940 - 1960

Second epoch época "Viuda y sobrinos de Esteso"

Following the Civil War, the workshop continued work under the new name VIUDA Y SOBRINOS DE ESTESO given the great respect the Conde brothers had for their aunt Nicolasa Salamanca who continued working with them until her death in 1959.

At this time Faustino and Mariano’s younger brother Julio entered the workshop.

They continued with the methods of their uncle but introduced some small changes and improvements in the general design.

Before 1953 they designed a new headstock shape that would later become known as “Media Luna” now made famous in the flamenco world. They used this design side by side with the traditional Esteso design. At this time they also introduced a few new rosette designs.

This epoch is characterized by the warmth of the sound of these guitars, a fruit of the union between the tradition and continued search for improvements in the quality and projection of the sound.

The professionals that played the guitars from this epoch are Regino Sainz de la Maza, Alirio Díaz, Quintín Esquembre, Manolo de Huelva etc...

In 1957 an additional workshop was opened at Pozuelo de Alarcón in the vicinity of Madrid. At its peak it had five guitar constructors trained by the Conde brothers. Guitars constructed at this workshops were meant for beginners and students and did not sport a hand signature and interior seal and came to be known as “second class” guitars.

1960-1989

CONDE GUITARS BECAME WELL-KNOWN FOR THEIR GREAT PERSONALITY AND SOUND: THEY WERE DEMANDED BY THE BEST PROFESSIONALS.

Read more

1960-1989

Third epoch “Hermanos Conde Sobrinos de Esteso”

After the death of Nicolasa Salamanca the Conde brothers opted to change the name into SOBRINOS DE SOMINGO ESTESO CONDE HERMANOS and later into HERMANOS CONDE- SOBRINOS DE DOMINGO ESTESO.

This period was the most prolific in the body of work of the two brothers and the guitars constructed at this time were demanded by the likes of the following artists: Niño Ricardo, Sabiacas, Melchor de Marchena, Mario Escudero, Paco de Lucía, Paco Cepero, Enrique de Melchor, los “Hbichuela”, Oscar Herrero, Gerardo Núñez, Rafael Riqueni, Tomatito, Al di Meola, John McLaughlin, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen and many others.

In 1960, the use of the “Media Luna” headstock design was generalized for the first class guitars and it became the emblem of this house. Some general design modifications were introduced as well as the interior bracing. Also some new mosaic designs inspired by last century embroidery was introduced, namely the famous rose rosette.

At this time my father and uncles introduced for the first time the use of rosewood for a flamenco guitar, traditionally only employed on classical guitars. This model was made famous by Paco de Lucía as the first flamenco guitar built for a concert setting. In the flamenco world this type of guitar is usually named “negra” as opposed to “blanca” built with cypress for back and sides.

In this way a new sound was achieved, with a great volume and own personality widely recognized in the flamenco world.

In 1971 I commenced my apprenticeship at the Gravina 7, workshop under my father and uncle marking the beginning of the next generation in our family history.

Fundamentally my father imparted me with two most important things: the respect for tradition and impeccable workmanship, and the all important contact with the clients and professionals which would in turn guide me to seek constant improvement in the sound and construction of my guitars.

One year later, my brother Mariano enters the workshop as an apprentice.

1980 - 2010

AT THIS TIME WE CONTINUE BUILDING GUITARS ACCORDING TO THE TRADITIONAL METHODS, BUT AT THE SAME TIME WE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NUMEROUS TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS TO STREAMLINE CERTAIN ASPECTS OF OUR WORK.

Read more

1980 - 2010

Fourth epoch "CONDE HERMANOS SUCESORES SOBRINOS DE ESTESO"

In 1980, my father Mariano Conde opens a new workshop at the Felipe Vº 2 street together with his two sons and begins a new era in the Family history.

Until 1988 and the death of my uncle Faustino, the two workshops worked in unison. From this moment on the Felipe Vº workshop continues being fully independent.

The following year, my father, Mariano dies and my brother and I take over the family tradition.

In the first phase of this era there was a full continuity with the way things were done before, but soon we took advantage of better materials, improved tools and technology to better the guitar construction process but never deviate from the traditional sound and artisan construction creating each guitar with great care and own personality.

New models are introduced at this time:

The Felipe Vº Model: a guitar constructed with only the best tone woods, especially selected for their beauty and sonorant qualities. It stands out for its impeccable inlay work and perfect finish.

Domingo Esteso and Viuda y Sobrinos de Espeso 1953 reedition models: These models were inspired by the basic models constructed in the first two epochs of the Family tradition and the Second, for the first time constructed for Tim Miklaucic (founder of the Guitar Salon Int’l.) based on a 1953 specimen. Both models are constructed using the original plans, the same old moulds, very old especially selected tone woods.

Many professionals who play our guitars today are the same ones as in the past since they have stayed faithful to our sound, however many new artists has since acquired our guitars such as, javier Conde, Roberto Morón, Lenny Kravitz, David, Byrne, Sergio Vallín (Maná) and many others.

At this era, I solidify my skills as a constructor and also embark on taking our name and brand outside of Spain to various trade fairs of pivotal importance for the music world such as Frankfurt Musikmesse, NAMM, Japan, Music China and many others, taking advantage of the resurgence of interest in the Spanish culture all over the world.

2010 - 2016

THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW ERA REQUIRES THE THE CONSTANT DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE GUITARIST AND THE ARTISAN, WITHOUT NEGLECTING TRADITION.

Read more

2010 - 2016

Fifth epoch "FELIPE CONDE GUITARRERO"

In 2010, in the midst of my personal and professional maturity I decided to embark on a new era together with my son and daughter Felipe Jr. and María, with great energy and excitement.

The memory of my father is very much present at this time. From him I learned everything there is to know about this trade, and above all, the taste for a job well done as well as fostering a close relationship with the artist.

I come from a family tradition where I gained decades of experience and acquired a passion for this trade. I began my apprenticing at the 7 Gravina St. workshop in 1971 when I was only 14 years old. I was taught the art of guitar building principally by my father Mariano and my uncle Faustino, combining this work with my studies. At this time I got the chance to get acquainted with guitar players such as Niño Ricardo, Regino Sainz de la Maza, Sabicas, Mario Escudero, Melchor de Marchena, Paco de Lucía and many more. A close relationship with the artists is something that drives my passion for this trade and also the constant improvement of the instrument.

At this new stage of our history I am accompanied by my son and daughter Maria and Felipe Jr., they have both been apprenticing at the workshop for several years now. Being able to teach my son and daughter what I am most passionate about is both a privilege and source of great pride. María and Felipe are very much implicated at the workshop and have chosen this trade as their future calling. They built several guitars already and are slowly developing their own style underpinned by the great tradition that precedes them.

Since 2010 the workshop has moved to 4 Arrieta St. very close to the 2 Felipe Vº St. workshop. The new space is intimate and ideal for any professional or aficionado who wishes to test out the guitars and see firsthand the process of guitar construction.