Conservatory Series feature for April 25th!

If you haven’t heard, we are having some awesome events at the shop here the last three Saturdays in April! We will be featuring some of the best classical guitar talent at the SF Conservatory of Music right here at the SF Guitarworks courtyard.

In preparation for the events, we will spotlight the talent of the events each week here on our blog until the series begin. Our first features are Roberto Borbone and Alan Lopez-Orozco. Both will be playing at our shop on April 25th!

Roberto Borbone


“What we wish to do is always more than what will fit in the time we have…what we wish to achieve is always better then what we have sitting before us…but it is this kind of endless pursuit, that provides the possibility for achieving perfection…”

Born in Naples, Italy, guitarist Roberto Borbone began his studies in classical guitar at the age of nine. He completed his Bachelor of Music degree at the Conservatory San Pietro a Majella Summa Cum Laude where he studied with Maurizio Villa and went on to complete his Master of Music degree at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels with the honor of Magna Cum Laude from the studio of Antigoni Goni.

Mr. Borbone’s passion for classical guitar led him to perform as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe and Asia. These performances include the Musical World Tour (China, 2013), Guitar Music from Europe and South America (Italy, 2013), and The Italian Portrait (Belgium, 2014), where he was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. He also participated in the workshop Homage to Tuhu with Maurizio Villa on the complete works for guitar by Heitor Villa-­ Lobos (Naples, Italy, 2008), and The Eighth Edition of the Volterra Project 2014 Summer Guitar Institute (Volterra, Italy, 2014).

Mr. Borbone has been awarded First Place in the 14th National Music Competition “Flegreo” and First Place in the National Competition “Napolinova” (Naples, Italy, 2007) in the chamber music category and won Second Place in the first edition of the National Guitar Competition “Cittàdi Forio d’Ischia” (Ischia, Italy, 2005). He has performed in Masterclasses held by world renowned guitarists including Oscar Ghiglia, Konrad Ragossnig, Sharon Isbin, Gaëlle Solal, Roland Dyens, The Beijing Guitar Duo, Denis Azabagic, Margarita Escarpa and Nuccio D’Angelo.

Roberto Borbone is currently pursuing his Professional Studies Diploma in Instrumental Performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Sergio Assad.

Alan Lopez-Orozco

Suite theorbo

Well-versed as a solo and chamber musician, guitarist and lutenist Alan Roberto Lopez is committed to finding and communicating the true spirit of the music to his audiences. Most recently Alan performed in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Baroque Ensemble’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi and will be performing at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. on May of this year to represent the school’s early music department. In addition, Alan has performed in several venues as a soloist and with his duo partner Tatiana Senderowicz around California and Mexico.

Alan’s talent and dedication have led him to receive the Vincent Constantine scholarship to study at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a full scholarship from the Franz Liszt School of Music in Mexico and a scholarship to play at the Hispano-Americano Guitar festival in 2010. Alan has performed in master classes for Roland Dyens, Marcin Dylla, Giulio Tampalini, Roberto Limon and Martin Candelaria. In addition to this, Alan has taken several intensive courses with Rafael Elizondo and Giulio Tampalini.

Born in Mexico to a family of amateur musicians, Alan was first exposed to the rhythms and sounds of Latin American folk music through his mother who gave him his very first guitar lessons, building a strong connection with the style and the guitar.

Inspired by lutenist Tatiana Senderowicz, Alan became enthusiastic on learning how to play the early music repertoire on period instruments. It was little after that Alan formed part of the early music program at the San Francisco Conservatory of music with Corey Jamason and Richard Savino with whom he has built strong skills as a lutenist and continuo player.

His interest in both early and contemporary music has led him to build a well-rounded repertoire on the guitar and theorbo with composers dating back to the late 1500’s such as Piccinini, Kapsberger, Caccini, and Monteverdi to more contemporary composers like Benjamin Britten, Leo Brouwer, Carlo Domeniconi and Dusan Bogdanovic.

Currently, Alan is pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with the renowned guitarist, arranger and composer Sergio Assad. Past teachers include David Tanenbaum, Rafael Elizondo and Jose Ramon Aguilar.

Come join us for an afternoon of live music, networking and hors d’oeuvres  by registering for the events here:

March Shop Updates: NAMM, Events and the Season of Gretsch!

The Winter NAMM Show 2015

Geoff, Heather and Monique made the trek from San Francisco to Anaheim once again to visit the wild and wonderful NAMM show. We did our fair share of catching up with the guys from the PLEK booth and checking out new products & updates from around the industry. Geoff met up with Bill Gould at the Zon Guitars booth and we got to showcase our custom built Luttrell Guitarworks guitars at both the Stetsbar and SlideWinder Ring booths. We had a great time seeing new gear and meeting up with familiar faces around the convention.

 Events at SF Guitarworks

We are partnering with the Conservatory of Music to bring you some events in April. Some of the brightest talent at the Conservatory will be playing here in SF Guitarworks’ own backyard. Space is limited so we encourage all interested parties to sign up for entry via Eventbrite. Check this link for more info:


Season of the Gretsch

Are you following us on Facebook? If you are interested in vintage Gretsch guitars, head on over and check out some of the latest repairs we’ve had in the shop.

Mike’s 1953 Gretsch Syncromatic: we made this one left handed for Mike, whose grandfather used to own the instrument!

Allen’s 1954 Gretsch Electromatic: we had to completely rebuild the dovetail and heel as they were literally about to disintegrate. Check it out!

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Until next time!

Changing Strings


Old guitar strings awaiting disposal.

When Should I Change My Strings?

Today we will tackle a very common question we receive here at the shop – “how often should I change my guitar strings?” Believe it or not, there isn’t really a firm answer to this question. It really depends on how often you are playing your guitar and various other factors that we will address in this post.

Generally, our techs at the shop recommend a string change if you notice the following:

1) your strings begin to lose their “brilliance”; a term used to describe when a string starts to sound flat and dull.

2) your strings begin to physically look dirty or splotchy.

3) your strings aren’t achieving their desired intonation.

4) one of your strings break and it’s not due to a sharp burr at the saddles or the nut; it’s often best to change them all at once so they remain consistent

 What the Big Brands vs. Players Recommend

Different companies and players have different thoughts about when to change your strings. According to Martin, they recommend the following in their Guitar Care & Feeding Guide:


Fender also recommends the following for when to change your strings:

There is no set rule for how often you should change your strings. If you have strings which are worn, flattened, kinked, corroded, rusted or mucked up with sweat grease and grime, then it is definitely time to change your strings. Really, the only other determining factor should be that if your strings are no longer giving you the tone, brightness and response that you desire, then it’s probably time to change them.

A few months ago, we asked our customers via Facebook & Twitter how often they changed their strings and these were some of the responses:

What Kind of Strings Should I Use?

This also varies greatly upon playing style and preference. Jazz players often prefer flat wounds and a heavier gauge, whereas a standard rock & roll guy may just prefer round wounds. Here’s some things we usually recommend:

* For the average electric guitar player, we recommend .010-.046 round wounds.

* For the average acoustic guitar player, we recommend .012-.053 gauge phosphor bronze.


There are so many types of brands out there, it’s hard to list them all. We stock D’Addario and Dunlop here at SF Guitarworks. We find D’Addario to be consistent (machine made, consistent ball end colorings so it’s easy to identify where they go, etc.) and we also love supporting the “hand made in California” Dunlops. Some people prefer coated strings like Elixirs or even the brass coated sounds of Thomastik-Infeld Power-Brights. We recommend trying a few to get a feel of what you like.

SF Guitarworks Video Feature & Holiday Hours 2014

Recently, we were interviewed by students of Academy of Art University about our shop. Check out the video below to learn a bit more about our behind-the-scenes process.

Also, our holiday hours are as follows:

December 24th – CLOSED
December 25th – CLOSED
December 31st – 12 – 5 PM
January 1st – CLOSED

We wish you a happy holiday season from the whole team here at SF Guitarworks. 🙂

Free strings on 12/13/14!


Come bring your instrument by on Saturday December 13th 2014 for an assessment and get a free pack of Dunlop (electric or acoustic) or D’Addario NYXL (electric only) strings! You have no obligation to leave the instrument, but if you’ve been thinking about getting something looked at for a while, now could be the time to have it examined by one of our expert repair techs. See you Saturday. 🙂