The Fischer-Rubio guitar

In 1969 I was studying classical guitar with Peter Scott at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I needed a new guitar and Peter Scott recommended I order a handmade guitar from David Rubio who was then working in Duns Tew, Oxfordshire.

I made an appointment to visit the workshop and Rubio appeared at the door wearing a suit, as I remember. He was known as “Gentleman Dave” for his habit of wearing a suit while making musical instruments. He asked me if I had played one of his guitars and I had to admit I hadn’t. He said “that’s a good test of a guitar maker!” and he picked up a guitar that was in for repair, whipped off the three bass strings with a string winder and replaced them and handed me the guitar. I played a Bach prelude on it and said “it has a beautiful singing voice”. Rubio looked very pleased and fetched out a stack of Brazilian rosewood and said “pick a back and sides”. I looked through the stack and picked a set with a slightly asymmetrical pattern.

Some time in early 1970 the guitar was ready and I went to Duns Tew to pick it up. The guitar had actually been made by Paul Fischer, but Rubio had been involved and he told me they had used a piece of 1952 Swiss pine for the top, such old wood was then quite rare and most of the pre-war stocks of tonewood had been burned by the Nazis as part of their scorched earth policy. Rubio said they had done something unusual with the strutting on the bass side of the guitar and brought one of the struts up into the upper bout. They were pleased with the guitar and said that even though it was brand new the bass was unusually strong.

Well, I’ve played this guitar all my life, though it’s had periods of rest when I’ve been experimenting with cedar tops. This year I had it repolished and some water damage repaired by an excellent guitar maker, Peter Barton, near Ilkley in Yorkshire.