1960s Zalapa Hermanos (Mexican-made) Classical Guitar

A fella walked into the shop with this and I bought it right on the spot. I mean -- wouldn't you? It's been so loved and abused by the elements that it just glows with wonder in how many stories must be hidden inside. Its label states "Zalapa Hermanos" (Zalapa Brothers) and that it was made in Paracho, Mexico. I'm guessing via the tuners that it's a late-'60s instrument rather than an early-'70s one, though I could be wrong. It looks about that old.

What's nice about it is that it's quite a bit better than average compared to the average 60s and '70s Paracho classicals I see now and then. The top is solid cedar and lightly cut and braced, the back and sides are cypress-like in the flamenco manner, the neck is 3-piece with Spanish cedar as the main bits, and the board and bridge are gorgeous-looking Brazilian rosewood.

Clearly, it's been played like crazy and then perhaps left in a barn or storage area for 30 years. While there's a lot of wear and tear there are only two tight (repaired) hairline cracks on the back and one tiny, tight (repaired) one on the front.

After repairs it plays nicely and has a full, clean, and warm sound. Instead of normally nylon strings, I put a set of Thomastik KR116 strings on it. This is a classical guitar set but it's entirely flatwound and the strings have rope-core-steel construction like modern violin strings. These intonate the same as normal classical strings and have the same tension as a moderate classical set, but they're brighter and more jazzy, steely, and "folk-sounding" than traditional nylon, so they make a great hybrid fingerpicking string. I've heard that samba players are fans of them as well for the steelier sound. The last bonus is that they're a lot more pitch-stable than nylon and you can retune on the fly to alternate tunings without worrying about string stretch just like normal steel strings. I'd expect with normal nylon this would have a bit more boom in the bass and a sweeter, rounder treble.

Repairs included: heavy-handed fret level/dress job (the extension area was "ski-jumped" so they've been leveled-down a lot to keep the fret tops "straight" with the rest of the neck), side dots install, minor adjustments at the saddle, cleats for the back cracks, cobbled repairs to the tuners (it has two mismatched replacement button/shaft/gears), and setup.

Setup notes: action is a standard, comfy classical height at 3/32" overall at the 12th fret and the neck is stable under tension.

Scale length: 25 1/2"

Nut width: 2 1/16"

String spacing at nut: 1 3/4"

String spacing at bridge: 2 1/8"

Body length: 19 1/4"

Lower bout width: 14 3/4"

Side depth at endpin: 4 1/4"

Top wood: solid cedar

Back & sides wood: solid cypress-like?

Bracing type: fan

Fretboard: Brazilian rosewood

Bridge: Brazilian rosewood

Neck feel: big C/D-shape, flat board

Neck wood: Spanish cedar/mahogany

Weight: 3 lb 3 oz

Condition notes: two repaired hairline cracks on the back (almost invisible), one tiny repaired hairline crack over kerfing on the lower-bout-face, lots and lots of wear and tear throughout, a soundhole rosette that had delaminated/crumbled but has been stabilized, missing wood inlay at the headstock's center strip, and cobbled/repaired original tuners with mismatched buttons and bits (they work fine, though). Aside from the tuner bits (which are older), it's entirely original.