The following informative article, which we have excerpted and edited, is available on the website www.rubioviolins.com along with a professional photo of the builder looking dignified, thoughtful and suggestive of the Renaissance person that he was. “David Rubio died on Saturday 21 October, 2000 at the age of 65. Since the mid-1960s the name David Rubio has been famous in the musical world as a maker of stringed instruments: guitars, lutes, harpsichords, violins, violas and cellos. Two string quartets play his instruments exclusively, and one is named the Rubio Quartet in his honor. Most instrument makers enter the profession via formal training courses or apprenticeships, but David's route was less conventional and more colorful. From a London childhood, he went to study as a medical student at Trinity College, Dublin. Finding out late in the course that color-blindness would debar him from his chosen career in surgery, he turned to his other consuming interest of the time and did something rare outside stories and folksongs: he ran away to join the gypsies. Moving to Spain, he made a meager living as a flamenco guitarist, accompanying traditional singers and dancers. This is when he acquired the sobriquet "Rubio," after his red beard: he was born David Spink.
“He was recruited by a touring flamenco dance company. Finding himself in New York, he decided to stay. After a further spell of playing flamenco in hotels and cafes, meeting his wife, Nest, along the way, he made a career-changing decision. In his own words: ‘In Spain I had sat shooting the breeze in the back of the guitar-makers' shops, and watching them at work. I have a photographic memory, and I decided one day that I wanted to make guitars.’ He bought wood, and built his first instrument based only on his memories of what he had seen in Spain. Amazingly, within just a few years he had established a fruitful collaboration with Julian Bream and his instruments were being sought after by the world's leading players. This was the first indication of his remarkable rapport with wood and with the needs of musicians, which allowed him to shape the one to satisfy the other.
“Returning to England in 1967, he continued to make guitars and lutes, initially based at Julian Bream's country estate. Moving to his own workshop near Oxford . . . he rapidly came to excel in this new domain and many recordings of the 1970s and 1980s contain credits to him in the small print of the sleeve notes. The final move came in 1979, to a custom-built workshop in Cambridge, England and with a gradual shift to making modern set-up violins, violas and cellos alongside period instruments. This pattern persisted for the rest of his life, but his restless mind found new challenges. He became increasingly involved in research associated with instruments. He was involved in significant discoveries about the methods and materials used by the classical Italian violin makers for finishing and varnishing instruments. He took up and developed methods of acoustical testing which can help makers have greater control over quality and repeatability of their instruments. His unconventional training in instrument making led him to evolve detailed constructional techniques different from those taught in the violin-making schools. In collaboration with guitarist Paul Galbraith, he developed a radically-designed 8-string guitar. In recognition of these activities, earlier this year Cambridge University conferred an honorary degree on him, something which brought him great pleasure at a time when he was already battling with his final illness." [NOTE: you are reading an excerpt from David Rubio's website - but, perspicacious as ever my friend, and guitar hero to many, Dick Weissman writes: "Dr Stan: A rare error in your description of the Rubio. Paul Galbraith is a classical guitarist. Barry Galbraith was an incredible jazz guitarist and studio musician who also played classical guitar. Barry lived in or near NYC, and I actually studied with him for two years. Dick Weissman."
“David Rubio will be remembered above all for the instruments he left behind, but his friends will also remember his dedication, his craft skills, his larger-than-life personality, and the way he never compromised his high standards, whether in hand-made Japanese chisels or fine wine. He worked until the end whenever he had sufficient strength, and the last violin was left almost complete on the bench. David Rubio leaves a wife, and over a thousand great musical instruments.”
The original owner of this guitar told us that David Rubio had, over a period of some years, made 3 examples of this style guitar- this one for him, one for late noted and beloved jazz guitarist Chuck Wayne and one for Barry Goldbraith who is mentioned in the aforementioned article. This guitar shows normal wear including the usual suspects: nicks, dings, scratches and scuffs, fingernail wear on the treble side of the soundhole and above the bridge, a closed and thin 5 ¾" top crack below the fifth string on the bridge to the bottom of the face, a closed and thin 2" crack coming down from the lower bass side. The finish on the back of the neck is dulled by years of playing time, and, well, by eating way too many frog legs, farina, hominy, kohlrabi, rutabagas, walnuts, wheat and wine (thus raising one’s pH level). However, notwithstanding all these signs of having had a long and productive life, it sounds absolutely and utterly marvelous!
David Rubio lived in Great Britain and built some of the finest classical guitars in the world. The interior paper label is torn but on the right side “MCMLXXI” is visible. On the left side is a partial signature of "David R." Additionally the back brace is stamped "David Rubio Builder" and, since twice is never enough (cf. The Captain and Tennille) there is a rubber stamp above the paper label that reads "d r." This guitar defines what a professional level – what they call Concert – Classical guitar can sound like, look like, smell like, feel like and more importantly, make the player feel like. David Rubio now has his home in the most elevated level of Luthier Heaven – along with Tony Stradivari, Johnny D’Angelico, Jimmy D’Aquisto, Tommy Humphrey and who could forget old Herm Houser. If you’d like to own an instrument that will afford you a euphoric, empyrean experience, this is the guitar for you.
Somebody recently asked us what the scale length and the fingerboard width were and we have replied: Hi. The scale length is nominally 25 5/8”, the nut width is 2 1/8” and the string spacing at the bridge is 2 5/16”. I suppose if one really needed to know this one could multiply 25.375” X 25.4 to get 644.5 millimeters but to be quite frank (yep, that’s my name) I have no idea whether this is even remotely accurate but it is undoubtedly close.
NOW ON SALE! WAS $18,042 BUT NOW ON SALE FOR: