MR Guitars Preserves Family Luthier Legacy
Manuel Rodríguez Jr. is the third generation of luthiers, a family that has been making Spanish-style guitars since 1905.
Rodríguez’s grandfather, Manuel Rodríguez, began his career in 1905 as an apprentice with Agustín de Andrés, a well-known 19th and 20th-century luthier in Madrid. After three years with Andrés, Rodríguez moved his family to Paris and found work with Julian Gomez Ramirez, another former apprentice of Andrés, where he remained until 1914. With the start of World War I, Rodríguez returned to Madrid where he began working as a varnisher, eventually bringing his son, Manuel Rodríguez Sr. into the shop in 1939.
In 1945, at the age of 19, Rodríguez Sr. was able to sign and label his first guitar. Setting up his own shop ten years later in Madrid, on Ministriles Street in Madrid, a location well-known for musicians who play along it, Rodríguez Sr. stayed in this location for just four years before moving to Los Angeles where his son, Manuel Rodríguez Jr. was born in 1962. In 1973, Rodríguez Sr. moved back to Spain to set up another workshop.
Rodríguez Jr. has been involved with the business since he was a child. After completing high school in America, Rodríguez Jr. returned with his family to Spain where he started learning how to make guitars. For years he traveled by car and truck around Europe selling his instruments, relying on the superior craftsmanship that accompanied the family name. Since those days, Rodríguez Jr. has honed his skills as a craftsman and entrepreneur, recently opening his fourth guitar factory in Fiji.
Manuel Rodríguez Guitars celebrates its 115 year in business this year and Rodríguez Jr. credits the following concepts as the company’s ‘pillars’ of Rodríguez guitars:
High Quality: There has been emphasis on building the best guitars to serve the needs of each customer since the beginning. Understanding the importance of wood, as it represents 80% of the sound that the instrument produces, the family manages the manufacturing environment, down to the altitude in which the trees are grown.
Licensing: The experience with licensing and promoting the brand is what has kept the company alive for over a century. Manuel Jr. has devoted his life to spreading the Manuel Rodríguez name while protecting the uniqueness of all their products.
Charity & Social Impact: At the heart of MR Guitars is the desire to create social impact. Collaborating with President Jimmy Carter and the Carter Foundation has been a passion project for Manuel Jr. since the late 1980s.
Sustainability: Protecting the environment is the key to all of the company’s decision-making and can be seen through the use of solar panels at their factories, using fallen trees as a source of high-quality wood, and eco-varnish on all guitars.
Music Education: Promoting music education, especially in developing countries, is simply the right thing to do. The importance of contributing to the development of society through music and using the Spanish guitar as a tool for doing good is at the heart of Rodríguez’s values.