January 16, 2018
By Chrissy Mauck
Gretsch proudly reveals that luthier Gonzalo Madrigal, an integral part of the Gretsch Custom Shop for the last 12 years, has been elevated to Master Builder.
“Gonzalo is a builder’s builder,” said Gretsch Guitars Vice President of Category Management Jason Barnes. “His woodworking ability seems surpassed only by his artistic vision, and his talent emerges not only in an instrument’s design but also in its sound. If anyone can be called a Master Builder, it is certainly Gonzalo.”
Madrigal began his career with Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in 1996 on the Fender production line where he handled binding and sanding guitar bodies. A superior craftsman, he gradually made his way to the Fender Custom Shop in 2004, where he worked on Benedetto guitar bodies, binding and neck fitting.
Madrigal also worked on various high-profile “tribute” projects, including the Fender Custom Shop Eric Clapton “Blackie” Stratocaster, Stevie Ray Vaughan “Number One” and “Lenny” Stratocaster guitars and Andy Summers Tribute Telecaster, and the EVH “Frankenstein” replica guitar.
Madrigal’s exemplary work brought him to the attention of Gretsch Custom Shop Senior Master Builder Stephen Stern, who enlisted his contributions for the Brian Setzer and Eddie Cochran 6120 models, the Billy Zoom Silver Jet and the G6128T-GH George Harrison “Tribute” Duo Jet.
During the last dozen years under Stern’s tutelage, Madrigal has flourished, becoming an all-around elite craftsman while continuing upon his reputation for his artistry and intricate binding specialty.
“Gonzalo is a very talented and dedicated guitar builder, and is my ‘right hand’ man in the Gretsch Custom Shop,” said Stern. “Gonzalo takes great pride in his work and I am so proud to call him Master Builder. He has certainly earned it.”
A native of Michoacán, Mexico, Madrigal believes that building guitars is in his blood.
“They make a lot of guitars there by hand, the same as here in the Gretsch Custom Shop,” he said. “I feel that building guitars is a part of me, and I have learned so much over the years here. I spent six years building Benedetto guitars and they are a very hard guitar to make – everything by hand, nothing by machine.
“I also trained under Fender Custom Shop’s Dennis Galuszka and Yuri Shishkov, and then Stephen Stern. Stephen brought me up a little bit at a time. At first it was difficult because he didn’t speak Spanish and I only spoke a little English, but we had great chemistry between us. I am grateful for the knowledge he has shared with me, and how he has brought me along.”
Madrigal’s latest build, a Gretsch Custom ’59 Penguin in Roasted Birdseye Maple, which will debut later this month at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, Calif., is a magnificent illustration of Madrigal’s artistry and detailed approach to his craft.
“The intricate binding work that Gonzalo did on his Penguin is immaculate,” said Gretsch Custom Shop team member Chad Henrichsen. “My bench area is right next to his and sometimes I just watch him and am amazed by his skill. His attention to detail and his exactness just comes natural to him.”
Master-built Gonzalo Madrigal orders can now be placed through the Gretsch Custom Shop. Please contact your nearest Gretsch Custom Shop Authorized Dealer for more details.