A small shop in Russafa connects music lovers in the USA with those in Spain and all over Europe.
The Fender Telecaster was Developer by Leo Fender in Fullerton, California around about 1950. Originally called the ‘Broadcaster’, it was the growing popularity of television (‘tele’ means ‘distant’ in Greek) that led to the final name.
An original Telecaster from the 50s could cost you a small fortune. Alternatively you could buy a replica in Russafa’s Calle Sueca from Nacho Baños and Octavio Valero.
Although Valencian by birth (1966), Nacho received a lot of his higher education in the States and ever since he can remember has loved American music.
While still a student at the Colegio Pilar on the corner of Avenidas de Cataluña and Blasco Ibañez, Nacho started his travelling, like so many students, with a summer course in the UK to learn English at Stroud in Gloucestershire, followed by stays at Canterbury and Plymouth.
It was of course from Plymouth that the Pilgrim Fathers sailed west to colonise America and to invent Thanksgiving after being saved by the Native Americans, who they would later repay with massacre and confiscation.
Nacho also headed west, spending a summer in Boston, where he would later return to spend two years at the University as part of his Economics MBA course at Valencia University.
Nacho admits to not being a great students, frequently distracted in the mornings on the way to class by students heading the other way to the Berkleee School of Music, (which now has a centre in Valencia) carrying musical instruments.
His biggest musical influence at the time was Elvis, from whom all things flow in modern music.
His first guitar was a Telecaster that his father bought him in 1986 despite a preference for Classical Music.
So fanatical was he about buying and playing guitars that he would sacrifice the money for his mid morning snack to save for guitars, and in the States he once moved from a comfortable student apartment to a cheap, basement flat in order to save money for guitars.
Later, on a trip to San Francisco he noticed that there were a lot of shops selling, not the latest guitars, but old vintage ones from the 50s and 60s; and on album covers he noticed too that all his idols had old guitars. The seeds of the idea for a shop and a business were planted.
In 1994 he returned to Spain, and started working in the family business, Plastinsa, which he now runs. The job involves a lot of international travelling, and in the coming months he would be visiting China, Germany and the USA.
Collecting guitars brought him a lot of knowledge and in 2003, with the information he had gathered as a collector and player, and on the advice of friends, he decided to write down his experiences in a book, the Blackguard book, www.theblackguardbook.com all the profits of which go to the Vicente Ferrer Foundation in Anantapur to build, for the moment, twelve houses and a school.
From the USA he obtains the authentic vintage guitars that he sells all over Europe, and sells from Valencia, on the Internet or in the shop www.texmexguitars.com run by his friend and fellow musician Octavio Valero, and writing the Blackguard book deepened his love for those old vintage guitars so much, that he decided to try his hand at making some, so that what he can’t buy he makes in a labour of love.
It takes him about 9 months to produce four guitars, retailing at an average price of 3,300€. These are marketed as www.nachoguitars.com
Each guitar has a name, a woman’s name, and I was introduced to ‘Rachel’, who looked at me, saw a non-player and refused to make a sound.
The first two that he made for friends produced some positive feedback (of the non-wailing kind) and so he made three more for three well known American musicians.
Ever restless he later set up www.bigtone-amps.com to sell hand made amplifiers.
Of course you cannot be fanatical about guitars unless you actually play them, and in 1994 Nacho started a group called ‘Tres Hombres’, in homage to the hairy American group ZZ Top. Surprisingly there are three men in the group, Nacho being joined by Manuel Ugarte and Yago Soriano, with whom he recently toured his beloved USA, playing at Houston, Dallas, Austen, San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
Listening to Octavio talking about guitars reminded me of wine experts I have known talking about wine; how every harvest is different, depending on a combination of circumstances; in the case of the guitars it apparently depends of the life of the tree that donated the wood, and like trees and wine, every guitar is alive and kicking.