Among the guitar makers who highly contributed to the development of the traditional classical guitar, there are José Ramirez, Paulino Bernabé, and Manuel Contreras. Manuel Contreras I (1926-1994) was surely the most inventive of the Madrid luthier – he invented a Harp guitar, an Alta guitar, the Carlevaro guitar, and last but not least the Doble Tapa concert models. Contreras earned a reputation as one of the finest and most innovative luthiers in Spain. The Doble Tapa model includes a ‘double-bottom’ which is aiming at increasing the loudness of the guitar. The Doble Tapa has been played by prestigious players such as the Romero family.
This one is in close to very condition. A small crack has been professionally repaired on one of the side.
The sound is loud and warmer much louder than a Spanish guitar but keeps the same tone color as Madrid luthier guitars. We strongly recommend listening to the review video.
Here is some Bio information borrowed from Manuel Contreras’s website:
Manuel Contreras, born in Madrid in 1928, started his professional activity as a guitar maker from the advantageous position of being a much sought-after cabinet maker.
It was José Ramírez the third who in 1959, knowing of Contreras’s great reputation, invited him to join his guitar workshop. In three years he had developed his craft sufficiently to set up, in 1962, as an independent guitar maker in Madrid.
Although Contreras should not be considered as being a luthier opposed to tradition, his work reveals us a maker who was much more open than most of his contemporaries to new ideas and developments, which led him to work, from the early 70s, on various unusual instruments.
His first achievement, in this sense, was the design of the model “Double Top”, which Contreras presented in 1974, after a number of experiments in order to improve the tone, volume, and projection of the instrument. The great acceptance this model immediately got in the professional guitar world (the first Double Tops, were closely followed during their process of construction and afterward used by the four mythical guitarists members of the Romero family) encouraged Contreras to continue with this innovative way of working, far away from the mainstream of classical guitar design.
To this period also belongs the “Guitar-Harp”, a very elaborated model in its construction, with a design of great beauty and a very powerful sound. As well as the “Alto-Guitar” model, a smaller instrument with a higher tuning than the conventional guitar. This instrument has been mainly sought after and appreciated, since then till nowadays, by the members of the prestigious Niibori Guitar Orchestra of Japan.
Contreras constructed the “Carlevaro” model in 1983. Based on the idea of the Uruguayan master Abel Carlevaro, it introduces a number of very original new elements, like the missing waist on the bass side and the lack of soundhole on the harmonic top.
In the mid-1980s, Contreras thought up the “Sounding Back Support”, a design that he developed, side by side with his son Manuel Contreras the second for some years, up to the moment when they definitively incorporated this item into their top-line guitars. It was thoroughly designed to improve the sound response of the guitar in large halls, chamber ensembles, and performances with orchestra.
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