c. 1785 Juan Pagés 

Cádiz, Spain

Juan Pagés (1741–1821) was one of the founding members of the Cádiz School of guitar makers and the father of four sons who built guitars under their own label, including the famed Joséf Pagés (c. 1760–c. 1822). Pagés guitars were highly regarded and mentioned favorably by guitar virtuosos Fernando Sor and Dionisio Aguado. 

Date 1785
Location Cádiz, Spain
Length of Guitar 1000mm
String Length 644mm
Upper Bout Width 217mm
Waist Width 173mm
Lower Bout Width 290mm
Side Depth at Waist 109mm
Soundboard: Spruce | Back: Brazilian rosewood | Sides: Brazilian rosewood | Details: Six-course guitar with bracing running roughly parallel with the grain.

Juan was born in Écija in the province of Sevilla to parents who owned a bakery business. In his late teens, he journeyed to the nearby city of Osuna to work in the luthier trade. By the mid-1770s, Pagés was working in the port city of Cádiz as a maestro violero (master luthier).

Pagés was an early adopter of supporting the guitar’s soundboard with braces that ran roughly parallel to the grain (a precursor to fan bracing) vs. the commonly used ladder bracing found on the majority of guitars from this period. He fitted his guitars with six courses (a Spanish convention) at a time when the rest of the continent was still producing five-course instruments in the baroque style and beginning to experiment with single strings.

The Juan Pagés guitar in this collection dates from the 1780s and is an early example of his work. The soundboard is made of spruce, the back and sides are of rosewood, and the rosette is a typical Spanish design featuring two satellite rings of mother of pearl diamond shapes. This motif is found on two other guitars in this collection including the 1803 Manuel Martínez and the 1822 Louis Panormo.

The lower bout below the bridge is inlaid with an intricate floral arrangement of ebony and mother of pearl. The bridge is adorned with seven mother of pearl round dots situated between the courses. The carved bridge mustachios are shaped in a floral design.

The three-piece back is made of rosewood and the very deep single-piece rosewood side is typical of Spanish guitars from this period. The neck and head are scarf joined with a V-shape at their junction. The rosewood fingerboard has eight metal bar frets and an additional seven frets are inlaid into the soundboard.

The guitar is fitted with two vertical braces beneath the sound hole running parallel with the grain of the soundboard and two smaller parallel braces on either side of the sound hole. The area above the sound hole is reinforced with two struts arranged cross-wise. True fan bracing would have to wait a bit longer.