Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Torres 11 String Copy

This instrument today is considered to be a nylon or classical harp guitar because it has a number of strings that are not on the fingerboard. I made this copy of the Torres SE83 back in 1999, although I chose to use different woods. I used the measurements in José L Romanillos' book 'Antonio de Torres, Guitar Maker, His Life and Work'. It is a beautiful sounding instrument. The tuning of this instrument I found in a book was C, F, D, G, B, E, A, d, g, b, e. I would suggest finding your own tuning. The four strings that lay off the fingerboard can be plucked by the left thumb. A copy of this instrument would costs £2750 with a Cedar neck, Indian Rosewood back and sides, a European spruce soundboard and French polished. Please inquire for alternative woods and options.

Soundboard: Western Red Cedar
Back & Sides: Honduras Rosewood
Neck: Cedar
Fingerboard: Eboni
Bridge: Ebony
  • Rosette: Custom
  • Bindings: Ebony
  • Finish: French polish
  • Tuners: Rosewood pegs
  • Nut and Saddle: Bone
  • Nut width: 70mm (2.75")
  • Scale length: 650mm (25.59")
  • Body width: 380mm (15")
  • Body depth: 110mm (4.3")
  • Body length: 484mm (19")


History: There was a small, dedicated group of eleven stringed guitar players in the last half of the 19th century in Andalusia, Spain. These players included José Martinez Toboso, Juan Parga, José Rojo Cid and blind guitarist Antonio Jiménes Manjón (1866-1919, some people write Antonio Gimenez Manjón). James Westbrook of 'The Guitar Museum' found a review of a concert Manjón gave in England in 1888. The article says that he played on a 9-string guitar. Manjón's music for the eleven-stringed guitar was published by Romero y Fernández in two volumes called 'Escuela de la Guitarra'. sells some of Manjón's sheet music as well as other composers of multi-stringed guitaris such as Mertz and Coste. I don't know if the music is arranged for these kinds of instrument or adapted for 6-string.

Carlos Garcia Tolsa with his Francisco Nuñez 11 string guitar.Photo courtesy of Randy Osborne

Carlos Garcia Tolsa ( 1858-1905 ) was the nephew of Manjón and was taught by Julian Arcas. To the left there is a picture of Tolsa holding an 11-string guitar, made by Francisco Nuñez c1895. Randy Osborne of Fine Fretted Instruments demonstrate the instrument.

With my interest in harp guitars I came across Torres's work from the wonderful book 'Antonio de Torres, Guitar Maker, His Life and Work' written by José L Romanillos. This book gives an excellent description of Torres's instruments and his work. José also gives some details to the restoration he did on the Torres 'SE83' eleven string. These special guitars were said to be his interpretation of the Germanic bass-guitar (Kontra guitare). Although Torres had seven strings on the fingerboard and the other four lay off the fingerboard. Antonio de Torres (1817-92) made many guitars and 88 of them are listed in the book. It is not a complete list and hopefully a few others will come to light in the future.

The earliest known surviving eleven string is Torres's 'SE 07', which was made in 1876 and was owned by José Martinez Toboso. The 'SE' stands for the 'Second Epoch' of Torres's life of guitar making. In this era he numbered his instruments. The 'SE 07' guitar was inherited by Maria Terol, who unfortunately had it converted from eleven strings to six strings by Marcelo Barbero in 1945. The guitar has cypress wood back and sides, which is normally associated with flamenco guitars. The best reason for using cypress is that it is not as heavy as rosewood and that it was a local wood and so cheaper than rosewood, which had to be imported. This guitar has a three-piece spruce soundboard. There is a photo of Toboso playing the eleven stringed guitar in Romanillos's book. It is hard to tell from the photo but it can look as if the there were eight strings on the fingerboard.

Probably the first classical guitar duo to make a concert tour of America was formed by Práxedes Gil-Orozco and José Martinez Toboso, personal friends of Francisco Tarrega. There is a photo taken of the pair of them in January 1889 in Valencia. In the photo are two eleven string guitars that were commissioned from the famous luthier Antonio de Torres. From Valencia there was a three week journey to Venezuela. From Venezuela they went to San Juan de Puerto Rico, to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Port au Prince in Haiti to arrive in Havana on the island of Cuba. From there they went to New Orleans in the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. In 1890 Toboso returned to Spain and Orozco stayed in Brazil where he remained until 1907 developing a brilliant career as a concert performer, entrepreneur and journalist.

Guitar 'SE 71' was made in 1884 and was once owned by José Rojo Cid. In an article from 'American Lutherie Number 33', luthier Richard E Bruné talks about its history and the restoration he made on this guitar. It is said that José Rojo Cid studied with Juan Parga, and Juan Parga knew Antonio Jiménes Manjon. It is also said that Manjon owned two eleven stringed guitars by Torres. It seems that José Rojo Cid obtained one of these eleven stringed guitars. The strutting in this guitar is different from Torres's normal fan bracing. The two outer struts on either side of the fan bracing continue under arches in the lower harmonic bar/cross strut. This was to give the soundboard more freedom of movement and so more responsive to the lower frequencies of the five bass strings. This guitar had been repaired by Marcelino Lopez Nieto and then by Bruné in 1993.

Guitar 'SE 83' was made in 1885 and this has locust wood for its back and sides, it is the only guitar to have used locust wood. Romanillos repaired this particular guitar in 1981. He also gives measurements for this instrument, which I used for this eleven stringed classical guitar. There are also plans for the instrument on the Internet. The SE 83 also appears in the book 'La Guitarra Española, The Spanish Guitar', which was published for an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA. You can see a picture of this instrument, which is now in Paris in the Musée de la Musique. To see photos of the SE 83 see bottom of the page.

Guitar 'SE 101' was made in 1886 and has found it's way to Buenos Aires. This could be the instrument that once belonged to Práxedes Gil-Orozco. It has a German spruce soundboard with Cypress back and sides. There are some good photos on the web site but unfortunately it states there are a number of cracks in the soundboard, back and sides. The neck was also broken at some stage. The case for the instrument is original. The headstock and bridge are in the style of Manuel Domínguez. My personal guess is that Orozco's Torres instrument may have been badly damaged and at some point it was modified/repaired by Manuel Domínguez. Who later went on to make a number of similar multi string classical harp guitars.

Emilio Bo was a concert guitarist who studied with Carlos Garcia Tolsa and was also a student of Antonio Jiménez Manjon. Emilio at some point moved from Spain to Argentina and in 1916 he had a son called César Antonio Bo Puente. César also took up the guitar and was considered a child prodigy by the age of eleven. He became successful performing solo pieces and duos with his father in public and on the radio. There is rare photo of a young César playing an eleven stringed classical, a clear continuation of the Manjon school of guitar. A CD of César's music can be purchased at Fine Fretted String Instruments. A number of otherf11-string classical guitars have come out of the woodwork in Argentina, most probably due to some influence of Emilio Bo and Práxedes Gil-Orozco. Instruments from Manue Domínguez 1920 as well as Breyer 1910, Manuel Gil and Francisco Nuñez 1910. Picture 67 and 70 in the book 'Ivan Padovec 1800-1873 and his time' show a Vincente Arias and a Manuel Domínguez 11-string classical with 8 strings on the neck and 3 floating.

It is also known that Andrés Segovia's (1893-1987) original Ramirez guitar that was given to him by Manuel Ramirez de Galarreta (1864-1916) was once an eleven stringed classical before being converted. The well known story behind this instrument is once again linked to Antonio Jiménes Manjón. I have seen this instrument myself in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and I also have the plans for the instrument. You can see the conversion where the peg holes were plugged and then the head stock was then re-shaped. The 12th fret slot is also cut all the way through suggesting the original soundboard was replaced. The slipper heel inside the body is the width of a 7-string neck.

Musée de la Musique: I have tried a number of times to get a direct link to the photos of the SE83 in the Paris Museum, but it does not seem to work. To see the photos click on the link above which will take you to their photo library. In the first box labeled 'par mots-clés' type in 'Torres',. In the box below type in the number of the photo you wish to see and then click the button 'Valider'. If you just type in Torres you will see their small collection of Torres guitars. To see... The front- 19176, The back- 19177, Side profile- 19178, Heel profile- 19179, The label inside- 19180, a nice photo of the SE83 with another Torres- 15152.


The guitarist Raphaella Smits talks about her 1899 8-string Arias guitar and there is also some good information about Airas on the page aswell. She has also recorded a CD with a number of pieces by Antonio Jimenez Manjon, played on her Vicente Arias 8-string. You can find a couple of Arias guitars on the web. Most seem to be in collection, there is one here in England in the Granary Guitar Collection.


1890 11-string guitar made by Vicente Arias (1840-1913)

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