1837 Manuel Gutiérrez

Sevilla, Spain

Little is known about Manuel Gutiérrez Martínez of Sevilla (c. 1773–1857) and his work; his father was a silversmith, but we have no knowledge of where, or from whom, he learned his craft. The most famous violero working in Sevilla in the eighteenth century was Francisco Sanguino, but their incoincident dates meant that Gutiérrez and Sanguino could never have met.

We take up Manuel’s story sometime in the mid-1830s. Already in his early 60s, he was working in Sevilla on Calle de la Cerragería with an apprentice, María Dolores Gómez Sanchez. Manuel crafted guitars at various locations on and around Calle de la Cerragería for the next two decades until his death in 1857. His name still appeared in trade magazines until 1867, so it is likely that María Gómez carried on Manuel’s business under his name. Neither Manuel nor María ever married or had any children to apprentice; and when María retired in 1868, she sold the business to Manuel Soto y Solares (1839–1906).

Date 1837
Location Sevilla, Spain
Length of Guitar 975mm
String Length 645mm
Upper Bout Width 235mm
Waist Width 185mm
Lower Bout Width 300mm
Side Depth at Waist 102mm
Soundboard: Spruce | Back: Brazilian rosewood | Sides: Brazilian rosewood | Details: Fitted with a bull’s horn headstock.

Of significant historical interest is the association between Gutiérrez and the young Antonio de Torres, considered by many to be the father of the modern classical guitar and arguably the greatest guitar luthier of the modern era. Both Gutiérrez and Torres worked on Calle de la Cerragería at the same time (Gutiérrez at Cerragería 36, and Torres just a few doors down at 32). There is speculation that they were good friends and that the elder luthier may have influenced the work of the younger prodigy. Their close proximity and similar building styles during this period support this view.

A Torres guitar from 1857 (FE 07) in the Yale Collection, for example, shares much in common with Gutiérrez guitars. Both makers use five radial struts and a similar bull’s horn headstock. In fact, there are several guitars attributed to Torres which have the same style headstock as that of the 1837 Gutiérrez. Perhaps Torres recycled old Gutiérrez necks or was inspired to copy them – or perhaps the guitars are originals by Gutiérrez with a Torres label inside or possibly all of the above; nothing is certain.

Just as noteworthy as the Gutiérrez-Torres connection, is what the 1837 Gutiérrez represents in the evolutionary journey to the modern guitar: it embodies the developmental link between the six-course guitars of Joséf Pagés and the six single-string guitars of Antonio de Torres. The 1837 Gutiérrez in the Austin-Marie Collection has back and sides made of Brazilian rosewood with a soundboard of German spruce. The bridge has been replaced.