Pimentel & Sons Guitar Makers - Albuquerque, New Mexico

We slept quickly and woke up ready to explore Albuquerque a little before heading home.  I had brought a few of our library books along to help pick out things to do along the way.  This one had some good options for Albuquerque.

I would have loved to have seen the Petroglyph National Monument but is was on the opposite side of town and we didn't have much time to spend here.  We decided on visiting the studio for Pimentel and Sons Guitar Makers, the Turquoise Museum, and the American Rattlesnake Museum.  

Since we knew we might not actually have time for all three of these, we started at the most exciting one, Pimentel and Sons.  Nicholas and Stuart both play guitar and it was a neat idea for them to be able to see how fine guitars are made.

Pimentel and Sons makes one-of-a-kind handcrafted guitars.  The business was started by the father of the family, Lorenzo Pimentel, who began making guitars as an apprentice.  He was poor but his wife encouraged him to to build guitars to sell.  He began his own business in 1951.  Now the Pimentel name is known around the world as one of the best guitar brands.

Lorenzo Pimentel has passed on but his four sons carry on his passion for guitar making.  They make each guitar by hand and they are uniquely tailored and custom made for the individual customer.

When we arrived at the shop, Rick Pimentel was gracious and welcoming.  He offered to give us a full tour of their studio!

Pimentel and Sons uses the finest woods available.  To ensure quality in the finished product, they buy their wood already aged and then they age it at least another 10 years before using it to make a guitar.  Some of their woods have been aged for as long as 60 years.  Once the wood is ready to use, they slice bookmatch pieces, attach them together, and sand it by hand.  They check the tones by tapping the wood to determine if more sanding is needed to create the perfect balance between treble and bass.

They design the patterns of the rosettes.  They glue together hundreds of strips of dyed wood to make a large piece from which they can slice a thin layer off each time they need to use it in a rosette.

Turquoise is the only stone that can't be cut on a CNC machine because it would shatter.  It can only be cut by hand.

The Pimentels show their artistry in each guitar they make. These pictures are not just drawn or painted on the guitar.  They use real turquoise, coral, ebony, and abalone to painstakingly piece the pictures together by hand.

The teeth on the skull above are made from real bone.  The fingerboard is so beautiful.  The black is ebony.  The leaves and branches are made with abalone and the tiny veins in the leaves and the black lines of the rose are made with real ebony inlays. The red rose is made from coral.

The neck of a Pimentel guitar is made with three pieces of wood so that if the guitar were to get dropped it would be less likely to break because the grain is not going in the same direction.

Bracing is an internal structure that provides support for the guitar but it also influences the vibrations and sounds of the guitar.  

For the sides of the body of the guitar, they soak the wood then they use a heated iron to help the wood hold its shape.  They have templates to use as guides but the wood is all manually shaped.

Once the guitar has been built, they apply a lacquer and hand rub the finish.  Pimentel and Sons is keeping the craft of guitar making alive while sharing a family dream.  Their guitars are works of art and some have a 1-3 year waiting list.

Here are just a few more pictures of the beautiful Pimentel and Sons guitars.

Nicholas has put this Phantom of the Opera themed guitar on his wish list.  I think even I would have to learn to play guitar if this beauty was mine.

Pimentel and Sons also give guitar lessons from beginners to advanced.  They are located at 3316 Lafayette Drive NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 505-884-1669.  For more information, please visit the Pimentel and Sons website or the Pimentel Facebook page.

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