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.)
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.
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.
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.
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,
FEW EXCERPTS CHOSEN FROM HUNDREDS OF LETTERS RECEIVED
THROUGH THE YEARS
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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."
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."
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
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).
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
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.
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
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
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)."
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
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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
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!