From the least to the most expensive models, Rodríguez guitars are almost entirely handmade.
Rodriguez still employs the traditional Spanish Heel construction technique, where the neck block is part of the base of the neck (rather than a separate block), and the back and sides are joined directly to the neck block, resulting in a solid neck joint and sturdy build.
No detail is too minor to merit attention. For example, the tuning machines are all handsomely and intricately cast, whether nickel-plated or gold-plated. Silver-plated frets from Germany are meticulously set into the fretboard and hand-filed so the strings lay a consistent distance above the fingerboard.
The neck and headstock of Rodríguez guitars are typically made of Canadian cedar, often reinforced with two ebony strips on the underside of the fingerboard to increase rigidity and eliminate movement caused by wood aging.
Each Rodríguez guitar is hand-formed and glued to create precise balances. From the delicate sanding — even inside the body — that ensures purity of tone, to the beautifully unique rosette inlays around the soundhole and on the back of the neck, each guitar is a credit to its luthier and are worthy of being handed down from one generation to another.
Once assembled, each guitar is balanced, and receives a thin varnish coating, which is lightly sanded in order to facilitate the remaining phases of the treatment.
For those who want to enhance the richness of a handcrafted guitar with the power of electronics, the cutaway electric models feature a state-of-the-art L.R. Baggs or Fishman preamp system for excellent response, balance and tonal adjustability.
The woods used in all Rodríguez instruments are collected and dried over many years. Manuel Rodriguez Jr. hand-selects all of his woods, which are chosen with close, vertical grain for the best sound and look.
Because of their weight, hardness, stiffness and beautiful color, Cypress, Bubinga and Indian Rosewood are selected for backs and sides. Indian rosewood, in particular, provides the exquisite sound often associated with a classical guitar.
Our hand-made, multi-colored all-wood rosettes, add visual intricacy and beauty to every Rodríguez instrument.
The best Spruce woods for our guitars grow in southern coastal areas, where trees develop faster and have a wider, coarser grain. They are white, but they develop a golden hue when dried.
Western Red Cedar
The inner part of this kind of cedar is white, whereas its hard parts are a dark, chocolate brown. It grows in the USA and Canada, British Columbia, and the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Its grain is straight, and its rings clearly show the growth of the tree. This wood has less high-end snap (compared to Spruce), but provides an extra warmth and mellowness to the tone.
Commonly used for our guitar necks due to its lighter weight (when compared to Mahogany). It has a light reddish brown hue, smooth texture, and a straight grain. When dried, this wood is very stable, has an average density and is not difficult to handle. When varnished, its beauty is greatly enhanced.
Indian Rosewood, Jacaranda
Indian Rosewood has a slight purple hue and straight grain. It dries easily, and craftsmen relish handling it because of its smoothness and fragrance It is especially suited for guitar backs, since it transmits sounds of a high quality and volume.
This wood is prized for having many of the tonal properties of Brazilian Rosewood (which is no longer legal to be harvested), seen by many as the “Holy Grail” of tone woods. Madagascar Rosewood tends to a high velocity of sound transmission, along with broad, rich overtones.
Cypress was the traditional back and side material for Flamenco guitars, due in part to its wide availability. Its density also provides crisp treble response, and a percussive quality when strumming or tapping.
A sought-after tropical exotic wood with an interlocking grain, it emphasizes an instrument’s fundamental tones, providing a great low end, gorgeous mids, and bright, ringing treble; Also one of the more visually-striking tonewoods due to the intense swirling of the grain.
Sapele is a reddish-brown wood is a member of the Mahogany family. A feature of Sapele is that the interlocking grain that often changes direction in frequent, irregular intervals, making for an aesthetically pleasing wood. It has a wide variety of applications and is very popular as a decorative surface veneer for high-grade furniture such as book cases and cabinets. It is a great alternative to genuine Mahogany.
After years of experimenting with Spruce from a variety of locations, Rodriguez has landed on Spruce from Central Europe, used in many of our guitar tops. Spruce has an outstanding sonic clarity, especially for strumming or picking, making it one of the most popular top woods.
Western Cedar is obtained from Canada and the Northwest U.S. for use on guitar tops, and it offers a beautiful warmth to the sound. There are many different qualities and colors, and we tend to the highest quality red cedar. As with spruce, stiffness, grain and weight are very important.
On many of our models, Cedar from Honduras is used, as its lighter weight makes it ideal for classical instruments. The Honduran cedar used is very hard and stiff, but at the same time, light. Our necks are reinforced with two ebony strips on the underside of the fingerboard to give total rigidity and to eliminate movement caused as a result of the aging of the instrument. On other models, we use Mahogany or Sapele (a member of the Mahogany family) due to its strength and supply.
Backs and Sides
We use Indian Rosewood (Jacaranda), Bubinga, Cypress, and other tonewoods for our backs and sides. Each type of wood is chosen for the unique character and tone it supplies, and is matched with the proper top wood, resulting in an instrument of incredible tone.
Varnishing is an essential phase in the creation of a good quality instrument, both in terms of the shellacs and varnishes used, and in the way these substances are applied. Rodríguez’s polyurethane finish formula and specially designed equipment ensure a uniform coating that leaves no pores and creates a shiny, resistant coat that will protect the guitar. After varnishing, the instruments are sanded in different phases, and then the pegs, nut and bridge are adjusted. In the last stage, the guitars are strung.