Monday, March 5, 2012

Ricardo Sanchez's self-taught guitar-making process, behind the scenes

Ricardo Sanchez, with an in-progress, three-toned guitar body. Photo by
Ricardo Sanchez of Nashville taught himself how to make guitars. Let me repeat: he makes guitars. Self-taught. Wow.

Ricardo is a friend of ours, so we placed an order with Ricardo Sanchez Guitars. It's an electric guitar with a custom Tennessee/Chile design (scroll down for photos). When we went to pick up the brand-new instrument, I asked him a few questions about the whole process.  This is what he told me.  

Nearly half of the vinyl covers on Sanchez's wall at home are by the classic Christian rock band Petra. Sanchez and I are both fanboys of Petra, actually; the first music I ever owned was their "Not of This World" cassette tape from the Logos bookstore in Green Hills. (Did I mention that some of the original members are touring under the name "Classic Petra" and are playing the Hard Rock Cafe this May?) Photo by

What sparked Sanchez's love affair with custom-made guitars was finding out that former Petra lead singer Bob Hartman has a side business in Nashville making guitars. Sanchez bought his first Bob Hartman Guitar from the man himself about five years ago; they met in the parking lot of an Outback Steakhouse in Franklin to seal the deal. Sanchez hung the above Hartman creation on his wall after having it signed by many of the classic Petra band members at a reunion gig in Nashville.  Photo by

Three years ago, Sanchez started making his own guitars with kits ordered off of eBay. Six months ago, he started making the bodies, so all he buys now are the electronics and the necks. Everything else, he makes himself. Each body starts as four pieces of wood glued together. The wood comes from everyday local sources. Photo by
The Ryobi machine cuts the shape of the wood. Sanchez's uncle picked up this machine for his guitar-making nephew. Photo by

They bought a sander (on the left) to smooth the edges. Photo by

Glued, cut, and sanded.  Next comes either staining, or priming and paint. Photo by

Car paint is more resistant, so that's what Sanchez uses. For smaller quantities, spray cans are called for. Photo by

This is the guitar my family will own. Only the red and white coats of paint have been applied. Photo by Ricardo Sanchez.

Our guitar after the blue paint has been added. The neck is the only part of the guitar that Sanchez still buys partially preassembled. The design is something my wife came up with - a combination of the flags of Chile and Tennessee. Photo by Ricardo Sanchez.

The luthier himself, testing out the final product next to an array of effects pedals. Photo by

We asked him to sign it; we have an original! Photo by

In the hands of its proud owner. Photo by

Ricardo Sanchez Guitars can be found on Facebook here.

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