Hernández y Aguado was a historic classical guitar maker in Madrid, Spain.
It is well known that John Williams played this guitar in his early career. However, the most enthusiastic supporter of this luthier was, without doubt, Regino Sáinz de la Maza, the famous guitarist and professor at the Madrid Royal Conservatory, Spain.
Santiago Manuel Hernández was born in 1895 in a village near Toledo. When he was eight, he moved to Madrid with his family. When he was 14, he began to work as an apprentice at a piano workshop. Soon, after he was allowed to work in a section where the main bodies of the piano were being constructed.
Victoriano Aguado Rodriguez was born in 1897 and grew up in Madrid. He was employed as a French polisher at the same piano workshop, in this way, the two became friends. When the piano workshop was closed in 1941, Hernández y Aguado decided to set up a workshop specialised in the restoration of the piano and antique furniture.
Aguado and Hernández’s son-in-law, Jesús Belezar were both enthusiastic amateur guitarists. The passion for the guitar and craftsmanship led Hernández and Aguado to build a couple of guitars for their own amusement.
When the maestro Sáinz de la Maza examined these guitars, he liked them and encouraged Hernández and Aguado to make more guitars.
One day, Modesto Borreguero, a guitar maker who had worked for the Manuel Ramírez workshop together with Santos Hernández and Domingo Esteso, asked Hernández and Aguado if they would let him use a corner of their workshop. They did so because they thought it’d be a good opportunity to learn more about the guitar construction techniques. They learned by observing Borreguero building guitars. It seems that Borreguero was a generous person and he taught them the traditional guitar making techniques he had learnt at the Ramírez's.
With the help of Borreguero, Hernández and Aguado achieved to improve the quality of their guitars. They sold out fast and more new orders came in.
They decided to concentrate on guitar building full-time. This must have been a quite risky decisionfor them because there were full of well-established guitar makers in Madrid such as: José Ramírez, Marcelo Barbero, Conde Hermanos, and Santos Hernández.
However, after their first year, they had 70 clients on their waiting list.
They worked carefully and patiently. Each part of the guitar was made in the most suitable season of the year. For instance, the construction of the bodies was taken place during the winter, while the French polishing was done during the summer.
The main construction of the guitars was handled by Hernández, and the French polishing and manufacturing of the necks by Aguado.
They made only around 400 guitars between 1941 and 1975.
The sound of their guitars is pure elegance, a traditional and old Spanish sound. Very mild and austere character of this guitar gives a false impression of a lack of power to the player. However, it sounds surprisingly powerful and loud to the audience at a concert hall.
The audio sample below is the ending part of ‘Asturiana’ from ‘Siete Canciones Populares Españolas (Seven Spanish Folk Songs)’ by Manuel de Falla. It was recorded live and the guitar played with was the same “Hernández y Aguado” of the photos.