Monday, September 14, 2009

Interview with El Teye of Teye Guitars

El Teye was good enough to take time out of his busy guitar building and performing schedule to answer our 10 questions.

Teye is just one of those builders who puts his heart into his guitars. Nothing leaves his shop without his extensive quality check points. The quality just has to be there or it doesn't ship. Not only is Teye a Master Luthier, but he is a phenomenal player.

CGB: Let’s start from the beginning how did you generate interest in the guitar?
Teye: As a young child, I would drop my toys and listen to the family radio whenever classical guitar music came on! Then the Beatles came along, and the Stones, and Hendrix: I was pretty much lost by then.

CGB: What inspired you to become a luthier?
Teye: I'd made several guitars over the years just for myself, and finally made one to deal with all my frustrations regarding all instruments I had ever played. My own private dream guitar. That guitar was so well-received, and around that time my wife (flamenco dancer) Belen with whom I toured all over the world as her guitar player, wanted to get off the road and settle down, start a family. When my guitar received not only compliments, but actual orders, that's when I decided to give it a try.

CGB: When did you finally realize you could earn a living building guitars?
Teye: When people paid considerably more money for my guitars that I had ever paid for a guitar myself!

Since day one of becoming a luthier, after all the experience through the years what is the fundamental thing you still do today that you did in the beginning?
Teye: Play all my guitars extensively before they ship. They must inspire me during rehearsal, or even gigs, or I will work some more at them.

CGB: What is your luthier or guitar building horror story?
Teye: Sawing off a neck with a hacksaw because I'd sanded it too thin...

CGB: How different are things today as far as luthery and the industry goes from when you first started building, any significant changes?
Teye: Not in my little bubble. I pretty much continue in my little stubborn ways...

CGB: Have you ever had to deal with a customer who knew for sure they wanted a guitar from you, and then when you asked them what they were looking for, had the slightest clue about why they wanted one of your guitars? How did you deal with it?
Teye: Nope.

CGB: Do you have any favorite woods as far as sound and ease of use? For example I know cocobolo is very dense and can be a challenge to carve by hand.
Teye: I do not judge wood on ease of use. For me, the sound and feel come first, and the work, well it just has to be done, that's all!

CGB: What would you say to up and coming builders who are just starting out?
Teye: Welcome to the club! Don't give up!

CGB: In your opinion who is the most influential Luthier?
Teye: Electrics: Leo Fender, although I am not in any way influenced by him! But he certainly was the first to construct a truly electric guitar (versus an almost acoustic carved one with pickups on). And now look at how far his inventions have penetrated the guitar playing world.
Acoustics: Without a doubt, Antonio de Torres. Without him, I doubt the guitar would ever have risen to the enormous popularity it enjoys today. He gave the guitar a potent voice, and volume. And he was the one who shaped it like a beautiful woman!

Teye guitars may be purchased via: Come pay us a visit.

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