David Rubio Classical Guitars

“Well-made guitars must improve. They don’t have instant tone, only instant potential.” David Rubio, Luthier

David Rubio (1934 – 2000) originally planned a career in medicine but became fascinated with flamenco music.  He took lessons from Pepe Martinez (1923-1985), the flamenco maestro from Seville, and became interested in guitar making; observing the luthiers at work.  It wasn’t long before his own instruments were created and noteworthy performers, such as Julian Bream, took notice.  Having a workshop in New York and later England Rubio’s guitars have become beautiful instruments to own and play – and I have one now!

I sold one of them last year and I now have another one in my shop. Made by David Rubio himself the 650mm scale instrument is balanced with a clear tone. Rubio65.mp3.

The Rubio guitar body has not changed in measurement over the years; it is roughly the same as guitars by Bouchet and Hauser, and is about half and inch narrower than a Ramirez.  Made “only with Brazilian Rosewood” Rubio began to include  a ‘nodal bar’ inside the guitar, designed to produce distinct treble and bass.  Julian Bream identified this addition simply by playing a prototype in his New York hotel room one day.  Rubio brought him a new design to try out and Bream, who had grown up with instrument makers, was able to ‘feel’ the nodal bar ‘under his fingers’ as he played!

As an instrument maker, Rubio commented that when it came to finishing the instrument go he was often “…reluctant to let it go.”  In his own words:

“You’ve put a hell of a lot of yourself and a lot of sweat into it.  The pleasure comes when the owner comes for it, plays it, obviously falls in love with it – you         can see the smile spread from ear to ear – takes it home, doesn’t want to talk to his wife and kids for three days, but, you know, locks himself up in a room         for three days kind of thing.  This gives you the incentive to say, ‘Right, take off your jacket and start another one.’ This is your drive.”

Julian Bream, the guitarist and lutenist who made the landmark 1966 album, 20th Century Guitar, used a Rubio in his recording.  He once said to Rubio, “I don’t want a guitar that tells me what to do, I want a guitar that I do the dictating to.  It’s not going to be a Spanish sound or a this or a that sound; much more neutral.  If I want to play Albeniz or Granados and get the sweet, syrupy, passionate flavour, then I have to play over the sound hole, over the fingerboard even, and milk the box, and I’ll get this quality.  But if I play Bach and it’s written with four voices, I want to hear four voices.”

The video below is Bream performing the first recording of Benjamin Britten’s Nocturne in 1965, which he recorded with a Rubio Classical Guitar.

Clinton G, David Rubio – Master Craftsman, Guitar International July, 1985
David Rubio, Luthier, accessed April 2011,
Guild of American Luthiers, accessed April 2011,

5 Responses to “David Rubio Classical Guitars”
  1. Sam says:

    Hi, do you still have the Rubio for sale?
    Please, write me on shuh@bol.com.br

    • Yes I have a 1965 Rubio for sale, It is fanciest Rubio I’ve seen and was made for Paul Fiens The American artist and student of Segovia. It’s had a few repairs, on the top and back, The back has had the French polish touched up and the rest of the guitar is original. The guitar plays beautifully as it was recently set up bu Australian luthier John Price.

  2. Hi, i borrowed a 1981 Rubio recently, and recorded some songs.
    Have a listen here:

    I think they are superb instruments, up there with the best of the best of traditional guitar makers, in workmanship, wood selection, and ofcourse sound quality.

  3. Beautiful sounding guitars. Have just come home from my best friend’s- he has a Rubio circa early 1980’s. He plays it like a Maestro- his name is Carmine Russo and was funded by our government to study guitar in Italy and Spain for two years, he is, in my opinion a maestro. He let me play it-WOW! Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, European Spruce top – hand finished.Any idea of it’s worth – just out of curiosity.

  4. Stephen Kenyon says:

    Bream recorded the original Nocturnal on his 1965 Rubio (20th Century Guitar, RCA 1965), but these videos are from the DVD My Life in Music, made in 2003 and that performance, or rather part performance, was filmed especially for the DVD, not in 1965, as you should be able to see from the age of the player. The guitar he is using is almost certainly the Hauser owned by Rose Augustine, which JB borrowed for several years until it had to go back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: