Santiago Manuel Hernández was born in a village in Toledo in 1895. He moved to Madrid with his family when he was around 8 or 9 years old. At the age of 14, he started working as an apprentice in a piano factory, and shortly after he was hired to work in the department where the body of the piano was built.
Victoriano Aguado Rodríguez was born in 1897 in Madrid. He worked as a craftsman in charge of shellac varnishing in the same piano factory as Santiago. They met there and became friends. In 1941, when the factory was closed, they decided to open a piano repair and antique furniture restoration workshop.
Since Victoriano and Jesús Belezar, Manuel’s son-in-law, were great guitar enthusiasts, Hernández and Aguado built a couple of guitars for pure pleasure. When Maestro Sáinz de la Maza tried these guitars, he encouraged them to make more because he thought they were really well made.
It should be pointed out the great help they received from Modesto Borreguero, a guitar maker from Madrid who worked as a journeyman, together with Santos Hernández and Domingo Esteso, in Manuel Ramírez’s workshop. Victoriano and Manuel learned by watching Borreguero build his guitars. Borreguero was a noble and generous man and taught them the traditional techniques he had acquired in Manuel Ramírez’s workshop. Thanks to this experience, Hernández and Aguado’s guitars improved greatly in quality and began to have a great reputation.
They decided to leave the piano and furniture repair business in order to focus only on guitars. At that time, Madrid was full of well-established guitar makers, among them: José Ramírez, Marcelo Barbero, Conde Hermanos, and Santos Hernández. Closing his business and betting on the guitar was, in a sense, a very risky idea. However, a year later, they already had a waiting list of more than 70 customers.
Hernández and Aguado worked carefully and without haste. Each process took place in the most appropriate season: the construction of the body of the guitar in the winter and the varnishing in the summer. Hernández was in charge of the body of the guitar, and Aguado, of the shellac varnish and the neck. With these painstaking tasks, they made only 400 units in total between 1941 and 1975. The acoustics of their guitars are pure elegance, they have a traditional sound rich in nuances. The purity of the sound sometimes deceives players by giving the impression of a lack of volume, but its acoustic projection surprises the listener and can even reach the last row of concert halls.