American Artscape Notable Quotable: Manuel Delgado

By Paulette Beete
Man wearing a baseball cap and blue denim shirt looking down at a guitar.

Luthier Manuel Delgado with one of his guitars. Photo courtesy of Delgado Guitars

"We've been told that we should get a couch where people can lay down and have  a therapeutic session, because I really like to get to know the person.  Our tagline for Delgado guitars is, “Does your guitar have a story?”  That's because I believe everybody has a story that's worth telling.  When we sit with them, I want to know about what their life is, who are the people that are in their lives that matter to them.  The question I love to ask people is, "When you're playing, where are you? " I don't mean physically like, “Oh, I'm sitting in a studio.” Art transforms, or transcends. It takes you somewhere where you're not necessarily where you physically are. If it's great art, and if it's challenging art, it may even be an uncomfortable place. But that's what art should do, and good art does do."

Manuel Delgado comes from a long family tradition of hand-building stringed instruments, many related to use in Latino and Hispanic musical styles. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, in 2005 he opened up his own shop, Nashville, Tennessee’s Delgado Guitars. The shop, however, was only a starting point. In addition to making instruments, a tradition he’s passed on to his daughters, Delgado is also deeply engaged with his community including arts education activities. Listen to Delgado’s story in the new issue of American Artscape: Original Threads: Equity and Access in the Arts for Hispanic/Latinx Communities.