Building a replica of a very early Torres
Updated: Feb 7, 2019
Alberto Martinez, in his wonderful online magazine Orfeo, which is devoted to the classical guitar, published an edition in the Spring of 2017, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Antonio de Torres' birth. One of the instruments featured was from Torres' earliest known period of guitar making, 1852. I had only before ever seen partial photos of the rosette from this instrument, never the entire instrument, and my impressions at the time were that it was a fake. However, after seeing this edition with Alberto's incredibly detailed photography, and reading that the instrument is currently housed in the Musée de la Musique in Paris, France, I began to do some research into this most unique of all known Torres guitars. It's scroll-shaped headstock set it apart from every other Torres guitar I had ever seen.
Photos shown above are by Alberto Martinez.
One of the facts I uncovered on the Musée de la Musique website was that the guitar had a lower bout width of 298mm. That is less than 12 inches across. Quite small, even for most of Torres' guitars...but I recalled that I had previously built another Torres of similar size - the 1864 FE18. I grabbed my well-worn copy of Romanillos' "Antonio de Torres Guitar Maker - His Life & Work", my go-to-book for all things Torres. There it was...the lower bout of FE18 is 295mm. Virtually identical. Armed with this knowledge and Alberto's incredible photography (along with the excellent photography of Jean-Marc Angles on the museum's website), I downloaded the photo images, blew them up to life-size and compared them to the templates I had previously made for my FE18 replica...the identical plantilla! What a cool, and very unique instrument!
It was time to challenge myself and see if I could create a credible replica.