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1967 Sobrinos de Domingo Esteso Guitar


by Craig Alden Dell

This 1967 'Sobrinos de Domingo Esteso' dance accompaniment guitar is a STAR!!! And actually always has been... but, I was graced to be able to realize how a guitar matures over the years through involvement with life's demands, not unlike a person. Luci came into our instrument gallery as one of two exact model guitars in an order, and my Dad was excited when he told me: "Craig!" Wait until you try these Esteso guitars that just came in from Spain"! They were STILL WET, just like a newborn baby!!



Well, I had to get past the smell first. The Cypress back and sides were ORANGE, and this really looked more like a paint than a shellac or varnish. But although you couldn't see the grain as well as with a natural finish, you could still smell the crazy, pungent, addictive smell of the Cypress wood. With a European Spruce soundboard, quite thin and bouncy in the diving board area, these two Esteso guitars were ready for action, as if they knew what they were created to do!

I sat with them both for weeks, and wow, talk about thunderous response!!! They were so percussive that you couldn't even TOUCH them without hearing about it. And, they were like twins. If you played one while the other was still in the room, it was like playing both of them simultaneously, as either one would come out nice and strong, HARMONIOUSLY, as if IT were the one being played!! I couldn't believe it.

I was SO happy when one of my greatest friends of the time, Pelete de Arencon, a famous and fabulous gypsy singer from Madrid, and an awesome Flamenco presence, bought one of the two. I would rather have seen the guitar in his hands than anybody I could think of. If you ever get a chance to hear an album of El Pelete's, do so by all means. You won't regret it, and on some of the pieces you could hear this guitar. The rest were aptly accompanied by Carlos Lomas, another of Santa Fe's strongest guitarists and a close friend of mine as well.

Now, Luci was as raucous and rowdy a guitar as has ever been created. For years every guitarist from Spain or from anywhere really, tried to put pressure on me to sell it to them - MANY TIMES, AT WHATEVER PRICE I WOULD ASK FOR HER!!! - (However doubtful that they could pay it to me)... Well, when you really ever played a guitar such as this, you subconsciously, if not with full awareness, tell yourself that you will never part with it. At least that's what my inner voice would say! I'm sure that their inner voice was saying: "I've got to figure out a way to get this guitar from Craig"!

I must relate to you the origin of her name "Luci"... During many years of being in the family, I played Luci with various people as an accompaniment guitar - with some REALLY great Flamencos such as the magnanimous guitarist and friend, Eric Patterson, who hailed from Albuquerque (not originally), and was of the famous two Patterson brothers - (Bruce and Eric), both amazing Flamenco guitarists; the renowned and wonderful dancer, Maria Benitez, and a slew of others to be mentioned at a later time. I was playing concerts and touring with two of my all-time best friends, the Romero Brothers, Ruben and Miguel Romero, (also brothers to Vicente, the Great American Dancer, and Jose - the easiest to relate to), after returning to Santa Fe after six hard years on the road, playing solo.

I had known them from all the way back in my teen years, and had played with them many times and in fact lived and worked with them throughout the years. We were each using 1967 Jose Ramirez "Sabicas Model" guitars. They were the best concert instruments for Flamenco that you could possibly find. Refined, but with the Spirit of Flamenco, and with considerable depth as well... which was just how the Great 'Sabicas' influence designed them to be.

At one point Ruben and I were having a tiff of some sort, which was quite common because we were close like brothers... when we got home to Santa Fe, I told my Dad that I wanted to bring Luci on the next tour... So, I packed Luci into the same case and hit the road with Miguel and Ruben. It was just amazing how piercing and growling Luci was on the stage, and how literally 'dominating' in terms of volume and presence she could be, since she was made for the rigors of dance accompaniment. I was having a blast but neither Ruben or Miguel said a word to me about it, which was a bummer!

They had the restraint to be able to wait all the way until we got home, and when I was getting out of the car, Ruben said to me: "OK Craig, now don't forget that the next tour starts in ten days, and LEAVE LUCIFER AT HOME"!!! I cracked up because Ruben was quite the expressive individual, and made it perfectly clear how he had felt about it. So, since I had a sense of 'knockaround reverence' for this guitar, I was NOT going to name her "Lucifer", but on the other hand, it was easy to understand his point, so 'Luci' she became.

Of course, such a guitar like this becomes famous all on it's own, and I have many, many other truly astonishing and even BIZARRE stories to tell of this fantastic guitar, when I am more long winded and have the wherewithal to consider thinking about them.

Luci is a full-fledged 'concert guitar' now, having grown up and acquired depth and wisdom!

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