A Family of Luthiers
The history of Manuel Rodriguez is the story of a long journey of more than one hundred years that has allowed a family to create more than half a million guitars. It was 1905 when founder Manuel Rodriguez Perez began working as a luthier in the Madrid based workshop of Agustín de Andrés. After gaining valuable experience at more local Luthiers Shops, Manuel introduced his son Manuel Rodriguez II to his craft when he was just 13 years old. The Spanish Civil War forced the family to flee Spain temporarily. However, when they returned, both the founder and his son, the young Manuel Rodriguez II, continued building guitars. At this time they were both working in the Jose Ramirez Guitars Factory, and when the younger Rodriguez starting signing his name to the Guitars, players quickly started to take notice. By 1955 Rodriguez II opened his own shop as his guitars became the standard for local flamenco style players. He also started to gain international recognition as his instruments were exported to the UK, France, and the United States. This global vision inspired Rodriguez to move his family to Los Angeles. It was the golden era of Hollywood and the United States was a virgin market when it came to marketing the classical guitar. From the moment he landed in California, Manuel Rodríguez did not stop taking orders.
Rodriguez was always aware of the importance of keeping his products’ roots in Spain, to retain its essence. So, in 1973 the Rodriguez family returned to Spain and opened its new shop on Calle Hortaleza in Madrid. During this new era, the passion for the guitar was born in another member of the family. Manuel Rodriguez Jr., who was only 15 in 1978, decided to devote himself full-time to manufacturing alongside his father. Manuel Rodriguez Jr. decided to continue with the expansion that had started in the United States. The first trade fair they attended was the 1983 World Music Fair in Frankfurt and this experience encouraged him to continue travelling the continent with their guitars.
The increase in sales to an international level gave the family sufficient courage to think about leaving the small shop in the centre of Madrid and to centralize all production to its new factory in Esquivias, Toledo. With the new factory at full performance, the family decided to expand its range of guitars and diversify their products. With the arrival of the new century, Manuel Rodríguez began to produce cajones flamencos and ukuleles. Extensive experience, professionalism and tradition have led Manuel Rodríguez to receive an award for its more than 100 years as a main player in the manufacture of guitars at the NAMM International Fair.
In 1994, Guitarras Manuel Rodriguez left its small shop in the centre of Madrid to install itself in a new and ambitious facilities in Esquivias, Toledo, where they would begin to manufacture their guitars. More than two decades later, the factory is an example of perfect symbiosis between tradition and modernity. It is a place where the latest technology meets the luthiers’ classic craftsmanship to create an unrivalled sound. With the new factory at full performance, the family decided to expand its range of guitars and diversify their products. With the arrival of the new century, Manuel Rodríguez began to produce cajones flamencos and ukuleles. Despite expanded production capabilities, Manuel Rodriguez maintains the traditional culture started by its founders. For those lucky enough to visit Esquivias, they offera guided tour of the factory, observing the whole construction process, from the drying of the most exotic woods to varnishing and polishing. On this journey to the essence of the guitar, the visitor can see and listen to the Luthiers at work, and look closely at every detail of this instrument. In addition, you can delve into the Luthiers’ world of the last century, thanks to the opportunity to see Manuel Rodriguez Senior’s old workshop, its almost hundred-year-old woods and its instruments. At Manuel Rodriguez, the Luthiers directive is simple and classic, “deliver the best sound in an instrument of infinite beauty.”
In the summer of 2015, Manuel Rodriguez launched an ambitious sustainability project. They installed Solar Panels on the factory rooftop to switch to renewable energy sources. They also adopted a policy of only using FSC certified woods for all of the factory desks and floors. An FSC label certifies that the woods used are sourced following a responsible management of the forests. Finally, the release of the Nature line of MR Guitars, while taking more time to build and prepare, helped reduce the use of chemicals needed to prepare and build.
Our Favorite Manuel Rodriguez Guitars
Caballero 11: This classical guitar has a look that can only be provided by Walnut, . With a top made of plain Cedar, the most impressive feature of this piece is its back-side finish, a natural deep brown. This wood gives the instrument a rarely exotic color, because it is not commonly used. This model is also available in cutaway with an equalizer.
C-Sapele Classic: The C Sapele Classical Acoustic produces a clear, warm and well-balanced sound thanks to a solid red cedar top paired with solid sapele back and sides. The cedar neck is reinforced by ebony for added strength and stability while the ebony fingerboard features a 52mm nut width for a traditional feel.