11/21/2013

c.1959 Christian Aubin Classical Guitar


Update: I've since spoken directly with the owner and she and her husband recalled picking the guitar up from the maker in 1959. Fantastic!

This is a pretty serious old classical guitar. Its family brought it in for a check-up on some top cracks (which I've cleated up where necessary) and regaled me with the story of how its owner (their mother) bought it in France in the 50s. They didn't know much about it except that it had been made for her while she was taking lessons.

It was made by Christian Aubin who was not only a pretty famous performer and instructor of the classical guitar but who also studied building from Robert Bouchet who's a huge name in the maker's world. Aubin, in turn, helped famed luthier Daniel Friederich get his start in building, too. These names, if you're unfamiliar with them, are right at the center of French classical guitar makes.

All that aside, before I knew anything about it, the moment I opened the case I was excited as it was obviously a finely-made guitar. Even with the top distorted from open and un-cleated cracks it was pretty clear that it would sound awesome... and it does... full, rich, balanced, and chock full of sustain despite the crusty old set of nylons on it.




The top is spruce and lightly fan-braced in the Spanish tradition. The back, sides, and bridge are all solid Brazilian rosewood and the board is ebony. It's quite difficult to see the cracks really well in the photos but there are a number of longish ones that are now stabilized.


Rosewood headstock veneer, bone nut.


The neck profile is flatter on the rear but thinner than average which makes it a comfortable player. It's currently setup with classical-height action but that could easily be adjusted down for a folk player.

I did nudge the setup slightly at the nut and saddle as the string height varied more than it needed to at the nut and a few of the strings were slightly buzzing in worn slots at the saddle (note here: I always make tiny notches in a pin-bridge saddle to hold the string snug and in place -- this aids in tuning stability, too -- the trick is that you use an under-sized notch rather than one of the string's actual diameter).


The rosette is gorgeous, no?


Rosewood bridge, nicely made.


I love the red-winey tones in the wood purfling and binding.


There's that fantastic rosewood!



The brass tuners with their bone buttons are hand-engraved which reminds me of 1800s pegs.




Handsome purfling, huh?

And yes... the neck is mahogany.





...and there's the calling-card.

2 comments:

marco valla said...

Is this guitar for sale?

Philippe Arnould said...

Glad to see one of Christian Aubin's
"bidet with strings", as he said. He was a fine man and a truly unique character , as the quality of his work and the sound of his guitars certainly show.Playing a Aubin is a privilege.