Ceramic Guitar Good for Rockin' Too

March 20,2015

Musicians have been using ceramic wind and percussion instruments for a long time, but a versatile potter can make any shape out of clay. A rock guitarist in Spain is now attracting audiences not only with his music but also with his unique ceramic guitar.

For rock guitarists, commercial success does not come easily. You need something to set you apart from all others, says guitarist Luis Martin, who is also the lead singer in the Spanish band “Lobos Negros.”

“So, what I wanted to achieve is a different sound that everybody wants to use to play their music: rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, blues, reggae or whatever,” he said.

His hometown, Talavera de la Reina, in central Spain, is known for the ceramic artistry that decorates many houses, so the idea of a ceramic guitar came naturally.

Potter Manuel Carrillo says it took him some time to master the process of making the guitar’s thin-walled body without cracks or deformities.

“A very thin wall of clay is made inside, after which we get rid of the leftover liquid. Then we make openings to the piece, so the guitar maker can assemble everything he needs, including the pickups. And then, once the clay is baked, it is glazed and decorated,” said Carrillo.

Martin says that, back in the 1950s, rock musicians in the U.S. discovered the unique quality of bouncing sound off ceramic material.

“In the 50s, voices and a lot of guitars used to be recorded in bathrooms following old Memphis-style with a microphone in the middle, as our friend Elvis … used to do," Martin said. "The sonority of tiles and bathrooms made of clay and ceramic create a special sound.”

A ceramic guitar costs about $3,000 and weighs three and a half kilos, but each one is unique, numbered and with different decorations.

Luis Martin and “Lobos Negros” now plan to tour the country hoping to attract fans with their new “ceramic sound.”