Delgado and Delgado: Stringed Instrument Making

Manuel Delgado is a third-generation Mexican-American luthier devoted to traditional styles of string instrument construction. Delgado makes over 40 different types of musical instruments, including bajo quintos, baja sextos, jaranas, vihuelas, guitarrones, jarachos, requentos romanticos, Hawaiian ukuleles, Irish bouzoukis, dobros, classical guitars, and more. With each, he forgoes the use of molds, standard forms, or CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines. For Delgado, every piece of wood is unique and is treated individually.

The Delgado family began building stringed instruments in 1928. Manuel’s grandfather, and then great uncle and father, made handmade guitars and other string instruments, first in Torreón, Mexico, then Juarez, Mexico, and from there in East Los Angeles. Manuel began working in the shop at age seven and built his first guitar by the time he was 12. In 2005, he moved the business to Nashville. His instruments have been sold to members of Los Lobos, Old Crow Medicine Show, Arlo Guthrie, Ozomatli, and many other notable musicians.

Apprentice Ava Delgado, Manuel’s ten-year-old daughter, desires to continue the family business and art form with the same devotion to detail and craftsmanship as those who have preceded her. She has worked with care and dedication over the past several months to complete her first instrument and beat her father’s record by two years.