How one talented Mexican craftsmen turns parts into instruments

Written by By Jandira Virangides, CNN Mexico City, Mexico

Francisco Eletro likes to say that he isn’t an instrument builder, but “it’s necessary to combine the two.” He is a part of the celebrated music community in Mexico, and just an international trade show away from supplying instrument and amplifiers to his prestigious clients.

Born in the Canary Islands, the 34-year-old grandfather migrated to Mexico when he was 19 and began work in the family business, eventually moving to Mexico City to become head of marketing for Resonant, the brand he now runs.

Francisco Eletro’s acoustic painting production process. Credit: Courtesy

In the way of many artists, Eletro has gone from drawing sketches to becoming a detailed maker of musical instruments, known for experimenting with various paints.

“Because I’m already a fan, I started doing this because it was something different, something that I could do to look out for my future,” he says. “I discovered my love for painting and new methodologies.”

Reconstructed world

With musical instruments, he has developed a technique that he says takes “backstage world,” adding detailed detail to the instruments he creates.

“I restore properties that I found that would make a better sound. That is, construction, special materials, the cleaning of parts, replacing them, and the embroidery of (microcapsules with) fine-organ graters and (cotton fibers), which makes an inner structure,” he says.

Francisco Eletro monitors a guitar, making sure the body has correct color and texture to define the notes. Credit: Courtesy

This technique has earned him the nickname “Mr. Fix-It,” thanks to his ability to get his repaired pieces to produce the sounds they should.

“The modern effect that I have is to not only paint but to create and work under lights, where you could go to learn with (Madeleine Chatelain). I am curious about people, what I want to learn. I am a very impatient person,” he says.

Chatelain, a veteran Spanish restorer, is renowned as an expert at repairing musical instruments. She is an advisor to Eletro, advising on technology, how to obtain materials, and even suggesting improvements that are added to his previously repaired tools and new materials.

Reconstructed guitars: not recreated in a lab

Reconstructed instruments will often have been sourced from the market, which is where one finds basic parts. The typical type of instrument that Eletro works on is a guitar, although a TV, a piano and even a drum are possible, as is a drone, given its complexity.

“It’s not that much (matter) to wait for someone to make a piece. A guitar will cost more in a shop and this tool isn’t cheap (to get), but I can do it,” he says.

He makes guitars in white, red and black, and as with every fabrication, there is something that doesn’t quite look right in his meticulously crafted instrument. The flesh of the instruments, as well as the back of the cases, stand out from the ordinary, adding to the attention given to the materials being used.

Music and peace

Even those who play his instruments will inevitably judge them on their appearance. “I try to show people something different; to try and give them pleasure as well,” he says.

For Eletro, the main mission is to give back to the community and create something unique for people to create music. For instance, by sharing the history of instrument development and at least one piece of equipment.

“I want to give back to people, to stop people making crap,” he says. “I try to give back to people, to recognize these old pieces.”

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