Jose Oribe world-class concert-quality classical guitars and flamenco guitars. Handmade craftsman quality professional guitars since 1962

 

     

 
SUHAI'L SHAH, CHICAGO, IL / BOMBAY, INDIA
"Dear Mr. Oribe,
I had promised to write a few words expressing my satisfaction upon receiving your guitar - a Gran Suprema with cedar top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides - but decided to wait until the stiffness in the upper registers of each string, a problem I find universally in new guitars, lessened. After some strong playing, in the mere span of eight weeks the sound is now consistent and 'open,' as though it had been played for a decade. What better recommendation can I think of for this wonderful instrument?
 
Perhaps the idiosyncrosy of handmade instruments allows for the rare phenomenon of a masterpiece being made. The unique blend of high-developed clarity, commending volume and grand resonance of this particular guitar recommends its place in the highest tier of musical instruments. The projection in each string is brilliant, the piercing ring of each harmonic razor-sharp. (The sheer confidence of the harmonics on the 3'12 fret has to be experienced to be believed.)

Certainly this is not an instrument for the superficial interest of the casual guitarist. Rather it is for the refined sensibility of the discerning professional to appreciate the worth of every sonic quality in an instrunemt being pushed to its limit.

Visually, the guitar could hardly be more thrilling. I am natively a sitar-player, and spoiled by the beautiful carving and inlay work of a good sitar. But I feel the stunning grain of each wood in your guitar, its lustrous finish and extensive inlaying would appeal to even die-hard sticklers for detail, of which I am one of the worst, honestly!

Thank you for making my guitar a special one. Wishing for you and your family the highest success."

Regards, Suhai'l Shah, from Bombay India
 
A FOLLOWING LETTER

I thought I would write to you with my impressions of the bird's eye maple gran suprema that you recently mailed me, as well as my thoughts on the flamenco gran suprema I have been playing for some time now, and the rosewood gran suprema, my primary instrument, that you recently repaired after years of use.

For years, I never thought I would need another nylon string guitar other than the rosewood gran suprema. The instrument has wonderful qualities that are hard to find anywhere else. It responds in tone to the smallest change in the angle of attack on the string. It requires minimum effort to play at high volume. It has a long sustain with a deeply musical tail. It achieves a consistent tone between strings at any register up and down the neck. And it is so easy to play, it could probably play itself. No other instrument, I believed, made by you or anyone else, could match it.

And yet, in certain situations, but mostly to accompany the dance, I needed a slightly more percussive tone with less sustain that would be stable when playing rasgueados at a high volume. And the cypress gran suprema is perfect for that. It has a beautiful sound, perhaps a bit metallic, and the action setup is well suited for extended ligado passages. Finally, the bird's eye gran suprema, which does everything well. It has a strong, deep tone, a fast response, and is great for classical or flamenco playing, or I imagine, any genre of music. Like the rosewood instrument, it is a delight to record. It sounds completely different, but equally captivating.

The repair work you did on my rosewood guitar, damaged as it was by nail marks all over the soundboard, is remarkable. The instrument looks and plays as though it were completely new. It is a tribute to the superb care and attention you devote to making the finest instrument that can possibly be made. I just hope that all those really into playing the guitar would one day own an oribe gran suprema. I think it'll remind them of how right they were to choose to play the instrument they did.Best Wishes,
Suhai'l Shah

A FEW EXCERPTS CHOSEN FROM  HUNDREDS OF LETTERS RECEIVED THROUGH THE YEARS

BYRON TOMINGAS, JACKSON HOLE, WY "...I would be more communicative except that I have this new Oribe guitar and I can't pull myself away for more than five seconds at a time. I'm not getting much sleep either, but I have been having so much fun it's almost unbearable, we're getting to know one another. I don't remember which of your friends who heard us that night said this, but they had it exactly right, "this guitar actually sounds more like a Grand Piano". Even all the way up the neck to the very end, bright and resonant, perfect in single note playing, perfect in chord balance and incredibly persuasive and pervasive in sound and if you need loud, I've never heard one with more usable dynamic range. This Oribe truly sounds to me like it is a single, solid piece of perfectly resonant wood, beautifully carved rather than a collection of parts put together. There's going to be a lot of brokenhearted guitarists when they hear this one because it's mine, not theirs, they will just have to get their own Oribe."

JOHN KOVACH, NY"...I've just arrived home on Long Island from San Diego. I had to write to you both, before I do anything else...to thank you for everything. I spent a memorable evening with you. I can tell you that it was a real delight to meet you both. I don't get the opportunity to meet such talented people that often.
 
The Oribe guitar is the finest I have ever seen or played...and I have played many throughout the US and Europe. I'm planning now with Doris what I have to do to buy the Gran Suprema. You were right about that...I don't want to compromise at this point in my life. I want the best guitar in the world...and I found it in Vista, Ca. Thank you for your time and warm hospitality. I'm looking forward to seeing you both again on my next visit.
All my best, John Kovach
PS: Nadia is adorable.
 
JOHN KOVACH, NY "...What I had written about the guitar in April is even more true now after having three months to get fully acquainted. It is a gem of an instrument ...in every way. I am convinced that I could not have invested in a finer concert guitar... Every one who knows anything about world class guitars is amazed by the sound of this guitar. The workmanship is like nothing I've seen. Players have a hard time believing that this is not a lacquered instrument. The finish is so perfect that most are amazed when I tell them that this a French polish finish. I couldn't be more pleased or more proud of this guitar. As we both know it was not inexpensive...but rarely have I bought anything that I've been this satisfied with. I'm glad I followed my instincts after reading your book and made my trip to Vista. Your appreciation of the guitar is right in step with my own and I feel fortunate to have met you both and to have found such a magnificent instrument...Thanks.
Warmest regards to you both, John

Jose and Juanita, I hope this note finds you well and enjoying the Labor Day weekend. It is a gorgeous morning here on Long Island. I was thinking of you both. I was reading a collection of old Guitar Review editions that I have saved for years. One copy (from 1954) had an article about Herman Hauser...and contained a quote by Segovia that made me think of you. When speaking of Hauser he said:" Few realize the influence of the luthier on the life and career of the artist. Without the existence of an adequate instrument, the fantasy, the emotional richness, the technical precision and the essence of musical interpretation - all these would remain latent. They might never be revealed, or at best, be imperfectly revealed."

Segovia was a bit stingy with praise...but this sentiment agreed with my own thoughts very strongly. The same words apply to you. I play every day...and everytime that I pick up my guitar I think of its makers with admiration and appreciation for what you do and the marvelous way you do it. Ironic (or serendipitous) that I would come across this reminder today...on Labor Day. All my best, John

DR. WILLIAM D. FUSFIELD "...I am writing to tell you how completely overjoyed I am with the 7-string Calidad Suprema guitar I recently acquired which you built for Aaron Shearer back in 1978! I could go on and on about how well this guitar performs and sounds, but I think it should suffice to say that I have been playing guitar for over 40 years now, in which time I have had the opportunity to play and own dozens of excellent guitars, from some of the finest luthiers in the world, and I have never playeda guitar that matches the quality of this instrument. Switching back and forth between this instrument and all of my other guitars there is simply no comparison. Your instrument is in a league of its own. Indeed, I simply did not know that it was possible for a guitar to sound this good! You are truly a great craftsman and artist...Sincerely, Dr. William D. Fusfield

STEVEN MITCHELL, Japan "...Thank you for sending out the Pro A.  Despite having a new Gran Suprema, I miss the Pro A which has been with me day in and day out for the last 10 years.  I'm very excited to see what you've done to it.  As for the Gran Suprema, what else can I say that hasn't already been said by others?  It's the most beautiful thing I've ever heard or seen.  Old pieces sound new and vibrant, difficult passages flow easier, and it's hard to put the guitar away at the end of each practice.  I want to buy more Gran Supremas from you in the next few years.  I hope they will still be available.

RON RAVENSCROFT, FL "...For over thirty years, I have been playing Oribe guitars professionally in concerts and in studio recordings. I am grateful to you for creating what are in my opinion the finest classic guitars obtainable.

During worldwide concert tours, I have been approached by luthiers asking me to audition their handmade guitars, and after experiencing countless instruments, including those fashioned by legendary luthiers of the past, I can confidently say that the Oribe concert guitar reigns supreme in both beauty of construction and in tonal quality. I am profoundly inspired by the exquisite sound of my Oribe classic guitar, and feel privileged to own and play Oribe guitars exclusively.

Thank you maestro, for developing and using your gifts in service to others through the art of music". With Best Regards,

MARK MANCINA, Film Score Composer, CA "...Jose, I want you to know how truly special your guitars are and will forever remain to me. Having had several guitars custom made for my work (film scoring and production) only makes me more of an "expert" on quality and consistency in nowadays "golden age" of guitar making. Your instruments are unparalleled. But how can I describe that? The only way is to say that your instruments -- (and I now own four!) have a soul deep inside them. Maybe part of it is your incredible selection of properly aged wood. NO guitar maker has this wood available to him. Maybe its also your relentless attention to detail in every instrument you make. But I tend to think of it in more simple terms. Most well made guitars nowadays have balance and consistent tone. Most are nice to look at. But I must say, your guitars have all of that and one thing more--magic. That inexplicable soul that one can only experience by playing one--any of your guitars. I have brought several people to your shop to experience this. They have all left with one of your guitars. And those guitars remain their favorites. If that doesn't say it all...thanks Jose." Mark Mancina

BYUNGTAEK CHOI, KOREA "...I am a classical guitarist in Korea. I have Gran Suprema cedar top made in 1990 which has 658 mm length. I been using it in every concert since then. I, recently, found that your guitar is very stable and consistent though it is 12 years old. Through the past thirty years of my career I tried so many guitars but most of them disappointed me with their distortions. I hope Gran Suprema would be the first long lasting one like violin or cello that can go down many centuries."

RUBEN ROMERO, SANTA FE, NM "... I want you to know that your guitar has been performing extraordinarily well. It has been to Washington, D.C., Colorado Springs, Keystone, CO, and I am currently in Austin, TX getting ready to perform down here. I find the marvelous sound and beauty of your guitars have been admired by many people that I have performed for."

LOUIS VALENTINE JOHNSON, GRASS VALLEY, CA "...This letter is to thank you for our visit together at your shop in Vista, California. I will always remember seeing for the first time your Gran Suprema 664... When I played your guitar, it sang with a voice of unparalleled class, charm, and beauty. The crystalline trebles, rich basses, and perfectly balanced clarity of its middle ranges were and are capable of filling any concert hall! Your Gran Suprema 664 is very easy to play, and demonstrates beautiful projection with terrific tone and a rich sustain. I found the fingerboard action smooth and effortless. Other famous makers around the world have produced difficult to play (Ramirez especially!) 664mm instruments. With your guitars, I feel that I am playing a 650mm scale instrument, but the sound is so much better! Your workmanship and art are of the highest levels and you have clearly perfected a 664mm scale guitar with a beautiful, strong and balanced sound.

I appreciate and am grateful that you and your beautiful wife Juanita have combined your years experience to make these concert guitars with your own hands. I now perform and record with your Gran Suprema 664mm Brazilian Rosewood model. I thank you both and am most pleased to be playing one of the best instruments in the world!" (Web Site: www.dosalmas.com)

PETER WOLK, MASSACHUSETTS "...I doubt you remember me but I studied with Howard Heitmeyer (1967-69) at your Inglewood studio and during that time bought one of your magnificent guitars (May, 1968-A-167).

Without question, that guitar was one of the essential acquisitions of my life. I entertained my friends with it, wooed women (including my wife) with it, entertained and put my children to sleep with it - and, much less importantly, gave a few concerts with it in England and Ireland as well as in this country. It has been such a joy to me, and is still the most beautiful guitar I have ever seen.
I was so glad to see the picture of you and Howard on your site. They brought back such warm, valued memories of that time. It's not an exaggeration to say that your guitar and Howard's teaching made my life richer and happier - but brought much pleasure to many, many other people as well.

Thank you so much for creating - not only musical instrument - but a life's companion."

ANTONIO MONTESIONE, PASADENA, CA "...Words can not express my excitement. I have been playing my Oribe flamenco for the last three hours and I can not tell you how thrilled I am. The sound is big and beautiful. The action is very easy. Fingering bar chords are a breeze. Your frets seem higher than what I was accustomed to. They apparently help make playing chords much easier. It takes about 40% less effort on my part to get a great rasqueado. I developed very strong hands from playing inferior guitars with thick sound boards. I had to use very high tension strings to get a sound I liked.

Through your beautiful instrument, you have given me a way of expressing my feelings that words could not express. I am inspired once again. I am walking on the clouds with a smile on my face, knowing I now own an Oribe. I hope someday in the near future to buy another Oribe flamenco with a cedar top.

JOSEPH THOMPSON, ASHLAND, OR "...I wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my guitar since your recent restoration work. I am falling in love with my (1972) Oribe guitar all over again. The work you did is easily the best investment I have ever made in an instrument...I never dreamed it would come back sounding better, but it has. All my guitarist friends and students are in awe of the look and sound. One of my students, after playing my Oribe, is now dissatisfied with his Humphrey guitar and is considering a change.

By the way, some time after a recent duo guitar recording with James Edwards, James sold his Ramirez 1A and bought an Oribe. He said that after playing my guitar, his just felt too hard to play. He said playing my guitar felt like cheating. Well, now I know it's not cheating. That's just how a great guitar should feel and sound."

STEVE SOHNER, MORAGA HILLS, CA"...As for the Gran Suprema, I've come to the conclusion that you have accomplished what I had previously thought was impossible, you've made a Rolls Royce with strings!. The GS is by far the absolute most complete instrument I've ever seen or played. I was concerned about purchasing a guitar with the 664 scale length because the Ramirez I had was a 664 and was not entirely easy to play, with the GS playing is effortless. The design, craftsmanship, balance, sustain, detail and finish are just superb. The GS is truly an incredible guitar. I've been wondering why anyone would want to play anything other than an Oribe! ...Sandy and I would also like to thank you for showing us your shop and beautiful home. I've spoken to other builders who were hard pressed to give any information, who will not return calls or just do not want to be bothered. Spending the afternoon with you was very much appreciated."

ERIK SCHELBERT, MD., HIGHLAND PARK, IL"...I want to thank you for building a wonderful instrument. It has been about six months since I acquired a cedar/rosewood Gran Suprema, and I still believe that I have a truly great instrument. As you know, I had played many guitars before I selected your guitar. The list includes Fleta, Hauser I, Friederich, M. Lopez, Marin, Blochinger, Bernabe, and many other great makers. I did not sample every maker, but it must have been close. I remember feeling very connected to your guitar. This was IT! It seemed so alive and rich with tremendous presence--like a grand piano. I was seduced, and after searching so thoroughly, it was not a difficult decision to make.

I am impressed by the extraordinary richness of tone-neither too dark and woody nor too bright and piercing. Its simply sounds beautiful. The tone is full bodied yet still bright and it projects wonderfully. Major reserves of volume are available. Treble, midrange, and bass notes are perfectly balanced, and I love the way notes resonate and linger during slower passages. The refined sound ultimately compelled me to acquire a Gran Suprema. It was just irresistible.
Before I visited your shop, I had acquainted myself with your style of guitar construction. I do not think there is a more rigorous maker. The Moorish rosette and purfling are elegant and distinguished by colors that complement the cedar perfectly. Who French polishes better? What beautiful Brazilian rosewood-perfectly quartersawn. I must say, the rosewood v. maple dilemma is a very, very tough decision. (I think the only solution is to get one of each).
Once again thanks for dedicating yourself to this beautiful art. I love it. I wish you continued success for the next millennium."

ANOTHER LETTER ONE YEAR LATER: "...For me, playing my Bird's-eye and Brazilian Gran Supremas are a privilageindeed. They are treasures. Thanks for all the hard work and dedication that went into their construction. I remain thrilled to have them. If the shop is ever to close, give me fair warning-I would love to have a spruce top someday... As I am sure I have said before, I think what you do is high art, and I am happy that you can pull it off in a world that has become so high tech. There is something timeless about the guitar, and I'm sure they will endure for many, many decades. I think museum when I get mine out of the case, and am determined to keep them pristine for the next generation(s)."

LUIS A. GARZON, FULLERTON, CA "...I only play Oribe guitars! I have played every other kind of guitar from Hauser to Romanillos to Ramirez and they just don't cut it. There are some guitars I like but even though they sound good the playability lacks. When you have to play solo for three to four hours and then go to the next gig and do it again, that matters. I don't need a guitar that makes me look like a fool. I need one that gets me more work and compliments. The Oribe Guitars sound better than any others and play better than any others. I have had a Ten String. I have a Pro "A" which I love and a 1963 Flamenco, that I saw built when I was ten and it's not for sale."

ANOTHER LETTER FROM LUIS AFTER HIS GRAN SUPREMA PURCHASE:
"...I have taken the Pro A to judge guitars that were $12,000 or more and it made them look weak. This Gran Suprema is a Cannon. I am thinking of using it on my next job with no mike, because it does not need it. It is as loud as my Pro A with an amplifier. The highs are like bells and the lows rich and clear and the midrange is perfect not overbearing and not missing in action­just powerful and clear. Every note is perfect and now I have to practice so much just to be worthy of the guitar and just to keep up with it—and I'm no slouch on the guitar. This is the greatest thing since the first time you came by with a guitar, oh 43 years ago. Yikes! I was five. Once I heard you play Recuerdos de Alhambra and I had to play it.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this wonderful instrument. Thanks to you and Juanita for your patience all these years.

I am not a doctor or a lawyer who has the kind of money that these instruments cost, but as a musician this is exactly what I need. It just took a while to save the money. You need to raise your prices­$18,000 to $20,000 would be fair. There is nothing to touch this guitar save perhaps another one.
I don't think people realize the intensity and diligence it takes for a master craftsman to make a guitar of this magnitude. Even if you tried you may not be blessed with the endurance, tenacity and talent to build like this. It's like watching Paco de Lucia play or Michael Jordan play basketball. You say wow! But you can't go home and do it. Well, I have to go play my guitar now so I must go, but thanks again."
 
AARON SHEARER, N.C. SCHOOL OF THE ARTS, WINSTON-SALEM "...How can one establish a fair price for so extraordinary work of art? Sustaining power, color, and fullness of tone, projection, evenness of response throughout, playability, and last (which would be of little value without the first mentioned) absolutely impeccable craftsmanship; this guitar seems to possess them all and it is yet a new instrument. ...Your work is individual, unique and indicates the highest level of progress in the development of our instrument. I sincerely believe this to be the finest guitar, in every respect, that I have ever played."

PETER A. MORGANROTH, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA "...Sir: your craftsmanship is superb. The Japanese revere their master craftsmen and artist as national treasures and bestow that title upon them. Were this practice be adopted in U.S.A., I am certain that you should be included in that elite group. I have compared your instrument to the best examples of guitars made in the world and find it musically equal or superior to the best and far superior in craftsmanship, attention to detail, several engineering considerations (i.e. the bridge) and aesthetic appeal. I applaud you most sincerely."

BLAKE M. MITCHELL, SANTA ROSA, CA "...The response of the instrument is so immediate as to be startling. ...Slowand stately passages become things of transcending beauty; ...to say that I am happy with this instrument would be some kind of world record for understatement."

AL FRANKY, LAS VEGAS, NV "...I've been performing here in Las Vegas for over twenty years...I am always trying out guitars and I don't think there's one single well known guitar made anywhere in the world that I have not owned at one time or another. But I must say that none can compare to your guitars. In my opinion, your guitars are the best sounding and most complete instruments I've ever played."

J. WILL ADAMS, MEREDITH COLLEGE, RALEIGH, NC "...thanks also for your daily dedication to guitar construction. It's good to know that, as I strive to perfect my art, I'm playing on a state-of-the-art instrument."

JEFF BETTINGER, SMITHFIELD, UT "...I've played thousands of guitars and I seek out every guitar shop I can in my travels. I finally have purchased one made by you and it is by far the most superior classical guitar I've played."

FANA CORPORATION, TOKYO, JAPAN "We LOVE the Oribe guitars. ...The users in Japan demand perfection and both they and we recognize that your guitar is perfect. ...The two Gran Suprema guitars bought recently were really beautiful and splendid!!! ...and sold out in an instant."

JEFFREY HEFFERNON, M.D., ELK GROVE, CA"...Your Gran Suprema has not only exceeded my expectations but it has redefined my expectations. ...The tone of the guitar is fantastic the balance of the strings, particularly in the mid range, is like a grand piano. The playability of the guitar is wonderful. ...l feel very privileged to own such an instrument. I feel like a person who just bought a freshly painted Rembrandt."

GABRIEL HANDY, WINSTON-SALEM, NC "...I hold a special place in my heart for the "Oribe Guitar," an instrument in which sound and quality is second to none. It would be impossible for me to express in words how much joy this guitar continues to bring me and the audience."

MAURICE KHAWAM, LAKEWOOD, CA "...Although you have an enviable niche in the guitar manufacturing industry, you also, as far as I am concerned, have taken this art to a level never before attained. To dedicate one's life to this endeavor and realize such results conjure in my mind the names and achievements of the greatest and most renowned people in the history of music. With my scientific background and appreciation of highly refined instruments, the precision of your guitars whether in execution or sound delivery amplified the enjoyment of the playing experience."

BYRON TOMINGAS, CA "...My Dearest Friend from all these years (1968) is still sounding gorgeous and brings forth full emotions for all lucky enough to hear it. My best to you and yours."

DR. WILLIAM C. MARTIN, CONCORD, NC "...I have a 1966 Oribe classical guitar (no. B-84) that I bought from your shop in Inglewood in 1966. Everyone who's played it wants it, even the teachers l've had. I've kept it like new, and it sounds great. I also had an Ignacio Fleta of the same period, but sold it because yours is at least as good and probably a little better sound. Yours was also easier to play. ... I'm also happy to say that after all these (30+) years, the original finish is still excellent and the integrity of the construction is, too--no cracks, etc. This is the Brazilian rosewood model with spruce top, and I remember you told me you were using a special finish developed for you. I'm happy to reoport that the finish has withstood all these years. I can't say enough for the quality of your workmanship. Just thought you'd like yet another testimonial. Cheers."

GENE FORD, NASHVILLE, TN "...A special note of thanks for making instruments of such fine distinction. Even after 23 years, I continue to be amazed at the tone, playability, and physical beauty of my Calidad Suprema. I consider it a high privilege to own an instrument to which I make a personal connection every time I play it. It was really a pleasure to meet you after all these years and thank you personally. I know that anyone who owned one of your instruments is capable of this same depth of enthusiasm because of the consistency of your craft. Nevertheless, it does not diminish the sense of joy I have knowing that on any day, I can pick up and play the best classic guitar in the world."

CHU CHAO 1, TAIWAN "...I've received the pretty guitar that you made, I really love and enjoy it so much, it sounds so nice, even and loud, being possessed of all the character of nobility, since my poor English, I can't describe all it's beauty by words, my colleagues envy me very much, they all acclaim this instrument, thank your understanding craftsmanship!