Miguel Zapala Silva, Paracho, Michoacán
Miguel Zapala Silva, is married with a daughter. He hails from "the guitar town" of Paracho, Michoacán. He is a luthier (someone who makes stringed instruments) of the first degree. The tradition of working with wood and making toy guitars goes back at least to his grandfather.
Since childhood through young adulthood, Miguel made toy guitars with his father, Miguel Zapala Severiano, but as that market moved to another pueblo, they needed to seek new horizons. Miguel’s father was an early recycler as he began to collect wood scraps from his relatives who were making full-sized guitars. With those scraps, he began to make miniature guitars and a successful new business was born.
Miguel Jr., liked the idea of making full-sized, finer guitars, so he began to learn this art from family members and neighbors. He immediately showed talent and eventually one of the most famous guitar makers in Mexico, the renowned Abel García, who resides in Paracho, selected Miguel to participate in a project to produce high-quality replicas of historic musical instruments. In addition to Miguel’s obvious love of guitar-making, he is also a history buff. Miguel glows when he talks about making and selling his guitars. He says it isn’t like work because he so enjoys being in the workshop and creating. Being younger, he gravitated towards social media and successfully sells his guitars on Facebook.
Miguel Jr. describes the process of guitar-making as needing patience and an ability to work with detail. He described part of the process, wherein he dampens and molds cut pieces of the fine, very thin pieces of wood. He described how a metal tube is heated and the dampened wood is molded over the tube. This process occurs multiple times, going back and forth to the original pattern he has drawn for additional cutting. Eventually the pieces of wood are glued together, some with small internal channels created. Sometimes tiny inlays are embedded into the wood piece by piece to create a design on the instrument. Of course, there are many additional steps, but it is clearly a painstaking process that requires significant attention to detail.
Miguel is part of an association of artisans in Paracho. He makes a variety of quality guitars with different price points, but also makes traditional wooden Mexican toys and household items made from fine wood. For you fans of the ukulele, he makes those as well
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Facebook: Miguel Zapala