I was born in Chicago, IL in 1953. When I was a very young boy we often had musicians coming to our house. My father was a renowned artist in the Hispanic world at that time. Sometimes, the musicians would rehearse at our house and played what I came to know as the guitar. From there on, I wanted to play the guitar. When I was ten years old —already living in Puerto Rico— my father gave me the first guitar I ever had and I started to play it every day.
When I was 12 years old, my father introduced me to one of his neighbors who owned a guitar that my father described as extraordinary. The gentleman, a lawyer whose name I don't remember welcomed us and asked me to sit in his living room sofa. He carefully took this beautiful guitar out of the case and put it on my hands and immediately asked me not to stand from the seat. He told me that when I finished I should call him so that he could remove the guitar from my lap. I pulsed the strings of that instrument softly, almost with fear. That sound was magic to my ears. I could not understand where the sound was coming from. The only reference I had was the small Spanish guitar my father had given me as a present.
About the guitar we had seen at his friend's house, my father said: "it's a Velázquez, made by one of the best guitar makers of our times". I have never forgotten the meeting with that wonderful instrument. Later on, I finally knew who was Manuel Velázquez, the builder of the beautiful guitar I had seen and had in my hands in 1965.
While attending the Music Department at the University of Puerto Rico, I met Mr. Manuel Velázquez, who was there to receive an Honorary Doctorate. Several years later, I had the luck of having a friend, Professor Miguel Cubano, who took Don Manuel to my shop. I have always been grateful for that gesture of Miguel Cubano and for the suggestions and advices that Don Manuel Velázquez gave me.
My interest in guitar making started in 1976. At that time, I was doing minor repairs and adjustments. I made my first guitar in 1978. After making that first guitar, while I was working a part time at a music store in the town of Río Piedras, I met a gentleman in the store that for some reason asked if I wanted to build stringed instruments. He told me that I should go and meet his uncle in Cambalache, a rural neighborhood in the town of Canóvanas, in the eastern of Puerto Rico. One week later, he came back to the store and asked me if I had visited his uncle and I said no. He replied:"don't you want to learn how to build stringed instruments? Well, go and visit my uncle and tell him that I have sent you". Next Friday, I went and found Mr. Jorge Mendoza's shop. We met and I told him that I had built a first guitar. He said: "come back tomorrow morning and bring the guitar and the mold you have made". I was there early the next day. He looked at the guitar, solera, bending mold and mold that I had made. With a very polite smile, he told me that he did not teach, but that he wanted me to come to his shop to give me advices. He said that I had to work from my place, my dining room table at that time. He would look at the guitars I made and that he would point out the problems and errors. I would have to solve the problems in the next instrument. I sharpened my observation skills as time went on. He was a great teacher, he inspired me to learn many things. He really made me work so that I would learn mostly by myself. That training has helped me a lot. I have built mostly classical guitars. I have also made cellos, violins, cuatros, tres, bows and other instruments used by professional musicians and students too.
I'm always working hard to reproduce that magical sound I experienced when I was a child.
Miguel Acevedo Flores