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1953 Viuda y Sobrinos de Domingo Esteso Guitar

The Widow

by Craig Alden Dell

Have you ever later realized, absolutely for certain, that something had been brought into your life just prior to, or after you were going to need it, in spite of the fact that you had no clue that you even WOULD need it?! And delivered off to you by none other than an angel or a worker from a high universal spiritual deity?

1953 Esteso


After I spent five months on the road in 2006, and played quite a lot until my right hand, which had been bothered by a case of tendon synovitis of the CMC joint, at the sides of the trapezius bone, in the thenar eminence, fancy words for osteoarthritis of the wrist and thumb joint, became ultra inflamed and agitated.

I had told myself that surgery on it was not an option, but pain and immobility convinced me otherwise. When it came to the point that I had taken as many steroid injections as can be legally tolerated by the joint, before breaking it down and causing further problems, I was posed once again with the choice of surgery on my hand, or not! This time I was just glad that there WAS a surgery that could "fix", or even "address" the problem!!

I received the opinions of three notorious orthopedic surgeons. One said 'do not get it, simply by virtue of what you do with your hands'! I agonized over this advice because this agreed with my earlier thoughts! But, little did he know that I was ALREADY not able to play up to my critical level, which was needed in order to go further as solo, or with my duo, and even to just play again for more than 20 minutes at a time. I was used to playing sometimes for four or five hours straight! The other two hand specialists recommended going ahead with the surgery. So, since this was the case, I made the hard decision to have the procedure undertaken.

It was real dicey there for awhile, and my thumb was really lame! Since it had gotten to be so long since I could really play for any length of time, my left hand was weakened too, and this turned out to be one of the many, many times that I had to start over basically! That is so discouraging because you don't really play that well, certainly not what you are used to, which is a very substantial source of mental anguish.

ALL of my guitars were too strenuous for me to play for any length of time, and about that time, a 1953 'Viuda y Sobrinos de Domingo Esteso', in all it's glory, made it's way into my world. This phenomenal instrument has the usual Esteso power and fire , clarity, growl, and wheeze, and glass-like brittleness, but also with astounding depth and maturity - I should say 'matriarchy', and was just as easy to play as butter melting in my hands!! Echoing of Faustino Conde's creation!!!

Though it may not have the sheer power in terms of volume as Luci, for example, it's power is in the extra-terrestrial sense, such as a spirit who never knew domination, but always was the dominator, even in the wispy, subtle and guttural nuances of sound abounding... soaked in the decades of lives enmeshed in duende, and reflecting the pain and heartbroken silence of love lost in the ravages of time, and tears of loss and passion - even in this case. A true flamenco guitar - not masquerading in a supposed versatility, not having any diversified purpose, only the wail of the soul of Spain and the perpetrator of dreams lost in Duende's iron clutches - such as an anvil's tink, and a vice's bondage...

This guitar was rescuing me and allowing me to sit long hours and play with abandon, totally immersed and not worrying about tissue damage of either hand, or straining any injury or possibility of tendinitis, while I recovered, and worked my strength and speed and evenness and dexterity back into my hands, post-op. It was, and IS, a profound Godsend!!! I am only in such a grateful state to be able to play her - the Widow...

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