The historic impact of Candelas Guitars on the LA music scene


Third generation luthier Tomas Delgado handcraft each instrument to Candelas guitars in East Los Angeles, following the traditions learned from his grandfather. He has built guitars for Jose Feliciano, Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli and Gaby Moreno, among others. The store, which offers repairs, custom work and guitar lessons, has been in operation for over 75 years.

According to Delgado, a luthier is a maker of stringed instruments.

What would you like to know

  • Third generation luthier Tomas Delgado handcraft each instrument to Candelas guitars in eastern LA
  • Delgado is also the founder of the Candelas Music and Arts Foundation which offers scholarships to musicians, young and old.
  • Following the traditions learned from his grandfather, he built guitars for Jose Feliciano, Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli and Gaby Moreno, among others.
  • Visit to find out more about the foundation

“So it could be a violin, in my case, guitars, classics, flamenco, used to make a lot of mariachi instruments like vihuelas guitarrones. We create something from scratch and don’t buy parts anywhere. , and I’m doing every part of the instrument here, so it’s a lot of fun, ”Delgado said.

His great-uncle and grandfather founded Candelas Guitars in Mexico in 1928.

“They moved to Ciudad Juarez, from Juarez to Tijuana, and from Tijuana here on this block in 1947. I joined the business in 1990, and have never left. I’ve been here for 32 years now. I watched my grandfather use tools to shape the necks, the heel of the guitar. And I feel like I’m with him because they work with the tools he designed and made all of them. the years he built guitars, ”Delgado said.

A customer said he appreciates the way Delgado runs his business and often goes to the store to play the guitar.

Luckily his grandfather’s skills that his dad passed on to him, and he builds amazing instruments, and that’s a place we can come to, and guitar geeks can kind of sit back and enjoy. things. I’ve been fortunate enough to see guitars go from simple wooden planks to an amazing musical instrument. And that’s one of the magical things to hang out at Candelas Guitars, “said Dan Castruita, a client of Candelas Guitars.

Delgado said that once he can identify the type of sounds customers want, it gives him an idea of ​​the type of material they will use to build the instrument.

“I can watch them play, and I can see how tall they are or whatever their stature or the size of their hands. It works like a mathematical formula in my head of what I call character attention, to how tall they should be, the action, how low, how wide the neck needs to be. So it takes all these little details to make it the number one instrument for them. “

Candelas Guitars has overcome many challenges since opening 92 years ago. Nonetheless, Delgado said he was grateful that he was able to run the business in a way that honors his family’s legacy.

“For me to be able to run a business like this and maintain the way we’ve been doing it for 92 years. It’s unique because anyone will try to open a store or maintain a store like this; they depend on walking. in business and selling products that they don’t make, they buy from someone else. well these products are all online now; you don’t have to go in a store. So what a blessing to be able to continue to operate the way I have been. It was tough when I had to shut down at the start of COVID, but we’re doing it. At the moment, every job I do. accept, whatever instrument, will be an instrument order. I don’t have the capacity at the moment to fill my guitar shop. I have had a few people working with me for years, but at the moment, for almost two years, and I have been working completely I have a waiting list of one and a half to two years on my custom guitars, and I had a three or four year waiting list on my restoration work. Every instrument is a challenge every time, and it’s fun. it pushes me; Love it, ”Delgado said.

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