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donderdag 28 augustus 2008


Dear Noud:

I began purchasing guitars from Orozco about 1980 and he no longer had too many of the good Japanese models. There was a model 10 from Japan and a model 10 from Spain. The Spanish guitar, built like a 1a, was a better instrument. The Japanese instruments were stronger and require more time to achieve their "final" tone so it is quite reasonable that those guitars, built similarly to Kohno, are now sounding quite nicely.

I had a luthier friend who toured Japan in the late 1970s. He visited the Tama factory where he noticed the Sakurai guitars being made. He drew the conclusion that the Sakurai (and also the Orozco guitars) were all being made there by a very skilled factory work force which made wide variety of instruments, including drums.

Fretfully Roger Thurman, Thurman Guitar & Violin Repair

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I believe Juan Orozco 's father made guitars in Madrid because my friend Felix Manzanero has a Juan Orozco guitar made in 1950 in Madrid. I don't really have any direct information on the guitars that Juan Orozco's son (I assume it was his son) sold in the 1970's. The last I heard was that Orozco was living in Puerto Rico.

Regards,Ron Fernandez

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Juan Orozco Guitar Repair Shop (718) 651-6023 7704 Woodside Ave Elmhurst, NY 11373
Hi Noud -- found this address, do not know if it is current.
I am going to do some research!

Regards, Harry

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About the Orozco -- I lived in New York City from 1957 until 1993 and was a frequent visitor to Juan Orozco's shop. A few years ago I tried to find info, but came up empty. Am I correct in assuming that Orozco is no longer in business or deceased? Unfortunately I have less information than you do about Sr. Orozco and the guitars he brought to the market. He sponsored a wonderful radio broadcast in New York during the late 1970's - early 1980's called 'Guitar Around the World' which aired on Sunday mornings and was an excellent program featuring archival and obscure recordings by the early twentieth century performers as well as new music performed by the (then) young lions of the guitar.

I know about Kohno and how he studied with Arcangel Fernandez in Madrid. I did not know he also studied with Fleta.In any case, the 1950 guitar I saw in Madrid of Juan Orozco senior was very good. As far as the Japanese Orozco Junior guitars, I have seen many and they were well made production Japanese guitars. From the 1970's there was also another good Japanese company named Matsuoka who made production guitars for a number of importers.I have imported 13,000 guitars from Spain since 1991, I was a supplier to Jose Ramirez for face wood in the 1980, and I begin importing fine Spanish guitars (Migule Rodriguez, Manuel de la Chica, Jose Ramirez, Marcelo Barbero Junior, Arcangel Fernandez, Juan Alvarez, Felix Manzanero) in the mid-1960's. I have seen a lot of classical guitars. One of my first teachers was Japanese who had lived in Brazil, Seiko Sesoko. He had studied with Emilio Pujol and Isaac Savio. Through Sesoko, I met several Japanese who were important in the guitar business including Shiro Arai, the owner of Aria. I had a brief contact with Orzoco through the mail and phone calls in the mid-1990's when he was involved with making guitar cases in Puerto Rico, and selling strings and books from Ricordi in Argentina.

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Ich lasse jetzt mal alles beiseite und rede nur über meine akustischen Gitarren: Für Aufnahmen verwende ich meine Orozco. Die ist von Juan Orozco, ursprünglich ein Gitarrenbauer aus Uruguay. Er hatte sich aber in New York niedergelassen und in der West 56th Street ein Geschäft eröffnet. Und dort habe ich auch diese Gitarre gekauft, es ist eine 1977er Orozco, eine der wenigen, die er exklusiv selbst gebaut hat. Und ich nehme noch heute mit dieser Orozco auf, für die Studioarbeit möchte ich ohnehin nichts anderes verwenden als eine akustische Gitarre.

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It has a very special sound, very loud, clear, perfectly tuned, great basses, extremely long sustain. It is very different from the others I have, the Contreras and Picado sound a bit flat and thin compared to this one.

To the history: I bought it recently for a ridiculously low price (I cannot say how “much”, it is significantly less than what you would pay for a standard low-level guitar) in an online auction. The seller (very difficult to get some answers, I guess not a great dealer anyway, lots of negative evaluations) did not state what guitar it is although I asked a few times, no images, so I plaid poker and bought a guitar without knowing its brand or shape (I thought the hard case that was mentioned might be worth the buy already). Also, I thought a guitar in a hard case could be interesting. So I discovered the “J. Orozco” label first when opening the case (it was shipped just in the case by the standard mail – hopefully they did not leave it in the truck outside over night). Well, kind of surprise. My first impression was bad: the strings were totally rotten, some small impacts here and there on the table (but no scratches like from Flamenco). Also when I saw “Fabricada en Japon” I thought, god, this is some low-level thing, but I was a bit puzzled by the quality of the wood, the beautiful work, the nicely shaped headstock, the very nice rosette.

When then I installed new strings (d’Addario 45) I discovered how great it sounds. I am not such an expert but it is very interesting, and it is extremely easy to play, much easier than the Contreras. Great dynamic range, it can be very, very loud, but also very still, with great presence.

I have some ideas about its origin. Well, I got it from somebody here in France, and now I suppose it was purchased in Paris in the late 1970ies. On the catalogue page 05 you see that Juan Orozco also had an address in Paris (5 rue d’Edinbourg) – this is today a famous shop called “La Guitarreria”, THE shop in Paris for Spanish and other (French) high-level guitars. I will try to figure out when they sold these Orozco guitars, whether Orozco sold many of them in France, and why his name is on the catalogue with a Paris address. Besides, the guitar case is exactly similar to another case I have that is from France, too. In the case was also a little booklet with guitar notes for beginners, obviously from the 1970ies too, with many notes in French. I think somebody bought it here who was a beginner.

So this is certainly a guitar built in Japan, for a Spanish luthier who lived in New York, and that was sold for the first time in Paris. Wow: this is like “the red violin” for me, I never had something like this in my house.

Orozco is an interesting and intriguing person.

There was a Juan Orozco in 1953 in Bazil ( who had worked with Santos Hernandez, so I think that was his father:
en una primera instancia y de forma suscinta puedo informarte que Juan Orozco fue un luthier español alumno en la materia de Santos Hernández. Emigró para Sud América hacia fines de los años cincuenta radicándose en Montevideo. Con una visión empresarial de su profesión decidió vender su marca y se generó asi una fábrica de guitarras Orozco (por eso lo de Ind. Urug.) que literalmente saturó el mercado, al punto que se conocen pocos instrumentos salidos directamentre de sus manos. Esta fábrica funcionó en un local de la calle Goes como consta en sus etiquetas. En esa época (años 60 - 70) existía una tienda de música (Casa Praos) localizada en la calle Ejido entre 18 y Colonia que era la que comercializaba directamente las guitarras Orozco. El luthier permaneció en Uruguay hasta promediar la década de 70 cuando partió para Brasil, residiendo en São Paulo y posteriormente se radicó en USA, donde se dedicó a la investigación en la fabricación de cuerdas creando la conocida marca "Aranjuez", hoy ampliamente conocida. Si mal no recuerdo Miami es la ciudad sede de esta fábrica, que luego del fallecimiento de su fundador fue y continua siendo administrada por su hijo. Hace algunos años tuve una guitarra de Orozco del año 1973 de la cual tenia fotos y datos que fueron perdidos cuando la placa de la computadora que tenia en la época se me quemó y perdí todos los archivos. Estos datos que mencioné fueron los que quedaron en el recuerdo, espero que por lo menos te den una idea sobre lo que querias saber ).

Here is a crude translation made with google:
In the first instance and succinct way I can tell you that John Orozco was a luthier Spanish student in the art of Santos Hernandez. He emigrated to South America towards the end of the fifties was based in Montevideo. With an entrepreneurial vision of their profession decided to sell its brand and thus generated a factory guitar Orozco (hence of what Ind. Urug.) Literally saturated the market, to the point that few tools are known directamentre out of his hands. This factory operated in a local street Goes as stated on their labels. At that time (years 60 to 70) there was a music store (House Praos) located on the street between 18 and Ejido Cologne that was marketed directly to the guitars Orozco. The luthier remained in Uruguay until the mid 70's when it departed for Brazil, residing in Sao Paulo and later settled in the USA, where he devoted himself to research in the manufacture of ropes creating the brand "Aranjuez", now widely known. If I remember Miami is the host city for this factory, after the death of its founder was, and continues to be run by his son. Some years ago I had a guitar Orozco of the year 1973 of which had pictures and data that were lost when the plate from the computer that I had at the time I was burned and lost all files. These data have mentioned were the ones who stayed in the memory, I hope that you at least give an idea of what they wanted to know.

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His guitar shop in New York was THE place for guitars and guitar players in New York in the 1970ies ( ) in the latter document they write
“I met Narciso Yepes for the first time in 1972, at Juan Orozco’s Guitar shop on West 56th Street which was the center of the guitar world in New York at that time.”

Juan Orozco (the father) also lived in Uruguay I saw on the WWW, and Juan Orozco (the son) has started very early to work on better strings (he was also involved in the “Luthier” strings that come from New York), and even Paco De Lucia uses these strings.

There is also a guy named Anthonio Bez who worked for him for ten years in Newy York, see

Finally there is a short text on the WWW (that was probably written by Orozco himself) and that fits with all this information:
Juan Orozco represents a noted family of guitar makers from Spain's province of Andalusia. He established his business in New York City in 1965, and since then the firm has specialized in the manufacture of flamenco and classical guitars, including such noted guitars as a royal family of the Spanish guitar, Los Romeros, now performing with Aranjuez Strings from Juan Orozco, luthier. Aranjuez Strings, introduced in 1968, met with rapid acceptance in the U.S. and abroad. The company produces guitar cases under the name of Artesano hard-shell cases sold in the U.S. and overseas, and refinished in the 48,000-square-foot factory in Puerto Rico. The company also has guitars under the name of Artesano Classical Guitars, which are made in Spain but refinished in Puerto Rico.
(from )

I read several times that the Romeros played on Orozco guitars but possibly these were built by his father?

This is all exciting, I like that kind of stories.

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While surfing around on the WWW I found that the headstock of my guitar, and the rosette too, are similar also to the Matsuoka guitars of that time. It even seems that Matsuoka, in the period around 1977, produced guitars which were very similar to the Kohno-Sakurai guitars. Actually, in the email that J. Orozco wrote to you, he writes also (in the first place) about Matsuoka (he writes “Matzuoka”).

What I think now is that these luthiers who worked for Tama/Ibanez, Aria etc. also produced some of the Kohno-Sakurai guitars (of course Sakurai would probably never say that this is true since this was a different atelier), and so they had different models, the Kohno style (they built 40 of them per month!), the Sakurai style (35 per month), and not less than 100 per month (I don’t think that J. Orozco had a wrong number in mind) for him under his label, probably most of them as #8, #10 or #15 models. However I did not find any of these models before 1978 until now. I think actually my guitar comes from this workshop as well, and might have been one of the earlier ones, with a headstock designed by Orozco together with Matsuoka (note also that he did never say that he worked with Kohno or Sakurai, and that Sakurai only said that “the Orozco guitars were not built in the Kohno ateliers”). One reason is that it has the same ink used for the serial number, the other reason is the similarity of headstock and rosette with the other models. And finally, inside of my guitar, on the neck is the date stamped, 770914, and I saw today on ebay (where is Matsuoka No. 30 from 1978) that also has the production data on the base of the neck, 780314 (the link is On your guitar there is no date on the back of the neck.

So what I think is that the guitar was either made by Matsuoka, or (at least partly) by Orozco because of the headstock, but in the latter case very certainly with material from the Japanese. The point is that the Japanese (under leadership of Matsuoka) did not use the Orozco headstock in this time. J. Orozco wrote to you “The only thing is that in the last years that we did this together,I've accomplish that they put my head design on the Guitars that would come with my name.” so I suppose that the earlier models were all with the “Fleta” style headstock.

Anyway there was a very clear link between Orozco and Matsuoka, and directly or indirectly with Kohno-Sakurai. The latter probably did not produce guitars for Orozco but accepted that they produced guitars with their plans both for them and also for Orozco. He must have been a very clever business man.

He has also built guitars himself, for sure, not only because of the picture on the catalogue in 1984. He learned it from his father, for sure, and designed his own headstock (he probably built the first ones himself). There is also a famous Brazilian singer, “Joyce”, who bought a Juan Orozco guitar in 1977 in his shop (!) and said (in an interview in 2005) that this is one of the few guitars that he entirely built by himself in this time. I have written to her since she seems to know something about the guitars and the man.

Thank you a lot for the great pictures. Our guitars are really different, not only because of the headstock. I also think that the fingerboard is rosewood, not ebony (another link to the Matsuoka guitars). They probably had a huge choice of woods and other material. – Did you ever compare the inside with a real Kohno (the asymmetric bar in particular)?

I suppose the guitar shop in Paris had some Orozco guitars in stock and they possibly could not sell them for the high prices in the 1980ies (that was not a good time in France). Also then there were many cheaper guitars on the market, and the Spanish started to push very strongly with guitars in the same range.

Well, I think there should be a WWW page on the guitars, and also some information on J. Orozco himself. There is little information and he is certainly one of the great figures in classic guitar building in the 1970ies and 1980ies. There should be a few 1000 guitars around, but possibly half of them (or more) have been kept in bad conditions.

His “Aranjuez” strings are very, very famous.

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Juan Orozco III is still active in the guitar business, in particular with the "Aranjuez" strings that he developed, but also with his guitar series "Artesano" (that are built today in Spain) and with guitar cases. He also organised guitar concerts and is well known by many great guitar players and luthiers.

Yes, Juan is truly one of the great worldwide Impresarios of the guitar. When he offered my an endorsement in 2000 I was thrilled. This gentleman was the single person behind launching so many major guitarists of the last 40+ years, and so few people remember or recognize him.

Even many of the great guitarists that he helped have failed to embrace him as his business has diminished and he is now in his later years. Shame on them. I write for an American guitar publication called 20th century guitar here in NY. I have full intentions of doing a biography article of him in the summer. I believe that Soundboard did an article on him about 9 years ago as well. Perhaps you could find it in the Archives.His NY shops were the reason that classical guitar had a friendly home in NY thru the 1970's & 1980's. Today only a handfull of retail stores exist here, very few artists, and no Impresarios for the guitar. Regarding "Joyce" yes Juan did make a few guitars. I have never seen or played one, But he told me he was hoping to return to more building this year. Your guitar - Matsuoka is a possibility, as he told me he often dealt with that company selling them hard woods from South America. I do believe your guitar is Japanese. The Spanish imports were much more in the Valencia design, simple light construction with a bright, almost flamenco sound.

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