way of introduction...
I welcome you to Paracho del Norte, (Paracho of the North),
my custom guitar shop.
is the guitar building city of Mexico, located in the state
of Michoacan. In the 16th century, an enterprising monk came
up with the idea of giving each village in the area a separate
and distinctive craft to promote culture and the economy.
To Paracho fell the responsibility of making musical instruments.
Today the entire spectrum of guitars are still made there,
from cheap tourist instruments to fine concert instruments
prized by some of the top guitarists in the world.
I live for the moment in a cold Northern city better known
for football than for things made of wood, I actually grew
up in Mexico City in a quiet neighborhood where the sounds
of donkey carts on old cobblestone streets filled the air.
My aunt Bette Ford was the first woman to have a bullfight
in the Plaza Mexico, the largest bull ring in the world. Just
down the street from our home was the studio of Diego Rivera,
the Mexican painter and muralist. See
Aunt Bette again.
love for the guitar began at the first time I had one in my
hands when I was 11 years old. I knew that day that my life
had changed, but I didn't know how. Soon after, I was exposed
to some of the American Primitive guitarists (named in the
style of the primitive painters), and then, over 30 years
ago, to the classical guitar.
began building guitars in 1979, and was lucky enough to have
several great builders in my area including Jim Olson and Charlie
Hoffman. During the early 80's, I built instruments for noted
guitarists John Fahey and Peter Lang. The guitar I built for
John remained the only handmade guitar John played through his
didn't take long to notice the coming shortages of precious
woods. On several occasions I had the opportunity to obtain
old growth timber from selected sources, beautiful rosewood,
Spanish cedar, and spruces cut in the 1960's, flamed Koa cut
in the 1970's and exquisite Ceylon ebony cut in the 1980's.
made the acquaintance of several people who shaped my way of
looking at things. From Nick Kukich at the Franklin guitar shop,
I learned about the qualities
fine Brazilian rosewood and Koa wood. A marvelous man, Ray Jacobs
of Eureka, Montana taught me about spruce wood, how to log it,
how to cure it and where to find it. From an area just outside
Glacier Park in Montana (USA) we obtained the spruce I use for
the braces in my guitars; clear, high altitude spruce logged,
split and carried down the mountain by hand. Next, a friendship
with the late Robert Larsen of Sheboygan Wisconsin (USA) introduced
me to the various ebonies. Robert ran a wood-import business,
Vikwood Limited, for many years.
was he who introduced carbide cutting technology to Sri
which enabled Ceylon ebony to be cut and exported. Political
instability, however, has cut off the world's supply of this
wonderful wood, which is so hard it must be finished with metal-working
tools. Robert also introduced me to the finest grades of Indian
Rosewood, logged by elephants. It is from these materials, cut
a minimum of 20 years ago and kept in a climate controlled environment,
that I use in creating my guitars. My French polishing technique
was taught to me by the late Robert Lundberg.
design elements come from my various travels along the pilgrimages
of the ancient world. From the Camino de Santiago de Compostela
I developed my rosette, and some of the bindings used. And from
Rome, in Saint Peter's comes the elements of my headstock. I
prefer clean, simple lines and harmonious combinations of colors
in my designs, and when given the choice with a spectacular
piece of wood will let the wood speak for itself rather than
detract from it with excessive ornamentation.
make my guitars to satisfy the needs of the player and build
with traditional materials to insure not only a beautiful instrument
and a beautiful sound, but one which will last and be easily
worked on in the future. My study of guitar making has taken
me around the world, from the back streets of Spain through
France, Canada, Mexico, Australia and the USA.