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Jose's Guitar

Jose's guitar work is legendary.
Jose Feliciano on Guitar

For over 40 years he has been "instrumental" in dignifying the acoustic guitar by bringing it to a level of acceptance rivaled by few in the industry. Soul, pop, rock, jazz, classical - in English, Spanish and Italian, Jose has delighted people worldwide with his inimitable style. Honored by Guitar player Magazine, he is in their "Gallery of the Greats"; his hands were 'enbronzed' in Madame Tussaud's in London and Billboard Magazine has bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award on the man whose life has been the guitar.

The Cuatro:

Many interested in Feliciano's music have noticed his playing of the cuatro, a Puerto Rican stringed instrument. It is rather small, is sometimes quite beautifully decorated and sounds a little like a mandolin.

Jose has played the instrument for many, many years, as his uncle played and even made them in Puerto Rico. Jose now has several and he considers them one of his most special possessions. A number of recordings include the sound of the cuatro, "Feliz Navidad", "The Little Drummer Boy", "Ponte A Cantar", to name a few. One of the tracks from "Señor Bolero" also has the distinctive sound of the cuatro.

To string this instrument one needs to use four sets of silk and steel light gauge strings which make up the unique combination: 2 High E's; 2 B's; 2 3rds; a 4th and a 1st and a 5th with a 3rd or a 2nd string. This combination allows for the seemingly "happy " or "jovial" sound of the cuatro, which is crisp and clean.

The Electric: Jose Feliciano and Les Paul

Jose Feliciano's love of the guitar also includes those he plugs into an amp! In fact, though it isn't commonly considered, he has been playing the electric guitar nearly as long as the acoustic, though his image is that of an acoustic player.

He has a nice collection of electric guitars including a cherry red Les Paul Guitar, autographed to Jose by Les Paul, himself, right on the front. What a treasure!

On the road, Jose tours with an electric guitar that, over the years, has evolved into quite a special instrument. It's a custom-made DiCarlo solid body guitar that he has used for at least the last 25 years or so. Over time, it has been worked and reworked to a point to where we've coined it, Jose's Super Galactica and it's really cherry! Some of its features include an on-board vintage MXR distortion and vintage MXR chorus. The neck pick-up is a Dimarzio PAF DP103 and the bridge pick-up is a Seymor Duncan SH-4 Jeff Beck model and he likes to use GHS Boomers Guitar - GBL light - strings these days. Since Jose considers the electric guitar an important part of who he is, musically, he rarely performs without it.

The Acoustic:

Clearly, however, it's safe to say, the acoustic guitar is Jose Feliciano's first love.

Since he was a little boy the acoustic guitar has been his best friend, his passport to the world; his salvation, as he puts it. It has been the source of his success so he will forever be grateful to this beautiful instrument.

Jose has played a number of different acoustic guitars, over the years. His very first, at nine years old, was a ten dollar, second-(or third!)-hand guitar given to him by his father.

"Dad and a friend of his surprised me one day with this paper bag and in it was my first guitar!"

Later, he heard of the master guitar maker, Candelario Delgado, in Los Angeles, California. He made a number of guitars for Jose over a period of time but Jose remembers fondly that Candelario even lent him a guitar in the early years when he couldn't quite afford it on his own.

The last guitar Candelario ever made, as we're told, has become very special in Jose's collection: The Carved Head, as it is referred, has been photographed extensively and used for recording purposes, but rarely, if ever, taken on tour. It gets its named from the carving on the head of the stock where a bold "JOSE" can be seen. There's a nice picture of it on the Romance in the Night LP.

The sons and nephews still run the shop, Candelario's Guitars, in East L.A., and carry on the tradition of the master luthier, Candelario Delgado.

Currently, and for the last 20 years or more, Kirk Sand of The Guitar Shoppe, in Laguna Beach, California, has been custom-building instruments for Jose. Kirk and Jim Mathewson have developed a design with Jose that they call aptly, the Jose Feliciano Model. It has the larger-than-usual dreadnot body but, of course, with nylon strings and a cutaway for easier access up the fret board. It's a lovely instrument with sweet richness that is both deep and clean. You can hear it whenever you see Jose on tour or listen to him on record!

Nail Care:

As an acoustic guitarist of Feliciano's stature, you can imagine that his nails are extremely important to his ability to perform. His left hand, which frets the guitar, has very short nails, except for the thumb nail which is not used for playing. His right hand, however, is the more particular in that it is the one that creates the crisp, clear sound that is necessary against the nylon strings. The nails cannot be too short or long, for that matter, and must have a perfect roundness with absolutely no "corners" at the cuticle. (The corners make him crazy) The right thumb nail is most crucial to his performance. It is a bit longer than the rest on that hand, and again, is perfectly round and very strong. God certainly blessed him there. One supposes the stimulation to his hands has helped his circulation, too, over the years---why, after all, are toenails usually stronger than the nails of the hand???

The Feliciano Personal Line of Guitars

For many years, Jose Feliciano has explored the possibility of bringing a reasonably priced, great-sounding guitar to his public who have been so good to him for so long. After years on the drawing board, we finally introduce the Feliciano Personal Line of Guitars.

Two acoustic guitar models are available by Jose as the "World's Greatest Living Guitarist Puts His Instrument into Your Hands."

For many years Jose has told the story of his own very first guitar: He was just nine years old. Up to that time, his life had been filled with all kinds of what was, to him, musical sounds and he tried to replicate them with anything he could find. He even made rubber bands stretched from doorknobs bring about some sort of music remotely similar to what he was hearing outside his window or from his mother's radio.

One day, his father and a friend of his went to a pawn shop in New York City and found a cheap, used guitar and brought it home to young Jose in a brown paper bag. This was THE defining moment that was to change his life forever. It was the beginning of this love affair with music and with everything else that it could possibly bring into his world; simply nothing would ever be the same for him again...or for all of us, for that matter!

The Jose Feliciano "Debut" Guitars are offered in two finishes: "New Moon Ebony Black" and "Purely Natural Blonde," each with lovely mother-of-pearl bindings, an intricate rosette design around the soundhole and Jose’s signature logo on the headstock. The nylon-string acoustic guitar, chosen for its fine tonality by Jose himself, also has an onboard graphic equalizer and an input jack so that it can be played with the 10-watt amplifier, included in the package. A solid-shell Gig Bag, Guitar Technique Booklet and DVD, colorful Chord Chart, Digital Tuner, Guitar Strap, an extra set of Strings and Guitar Picks are also included.

Jose wants to bring his guitar home to anyone who has ever had the dream to play, as well as to those who already understand the wonder of holding such an instrument -- and bringing its music to life -- in their hands.


Photographs by David Bravo

As people are beginning to discover the Feliciano Personal Line of Guitars, letters have started to arrive with their input regarding them. Here are but a couple of the many fascinating comments that we've received:

“Hi Jose, Many years ago (late 1960's) I was subbing on 'cello for a concert you gave at Lincoln Center in N.Y. City. I had the honor of playing guitar with you in the dressing room before the concert's rehearsal began. I was playing on an old Giannini Craviola that I got when studying guitar with Laurindo Almeida. I loved that instrument and you were also playing one as well as your other fine handmade guitars. you gave me an autographed photo that hung in my studio until it was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma.

At your recommendation, I bought a fabulous 1937 Hauser model by Candelas Guitars in L.A. Sr. Delgado makes one of the best guitars I have ever played; much brighter sound than my Fleta or 1953 Ramirez 1A. He is truly a master luthier.

I bought 2 of your guitar outfits from QVC for my students. Well worth the price, great quality. I didn't have to make any adjustments to them. Perfectly setup right out of the carton. I was very impressed. Well worthy of having your name endorsing a great package.


Dr. H.K.

P.S. I received 3 Doctorate Degrees in Music since our meeting so long ago. You were definitely part of the influence that had me pursue and master 21 instruments and fulfill my dream. Thanks again!”


“Dear Jose! I am so impressed of the quality of my new guitar!!! OMG!

Jose's guitars are not only beautiful (I love the design) but the sound is great. Not the sound that you expect on a package deal such as the one you have. I was very impressed, too, with the fact that all of the items have his signature, I mean... even the tuner, the boxes, WOW!!! It is so professional. The case is so nice, too. Sturdy but not cumbersome. Soft, light to take along.

I love the chord chart. I am framing that one for my son to practice. If you do another QVC presentation and you want people to call with testimonials of the quality, you can count on me.


In honor of the induction of an authentic Feliciano acoustic guitar to the Hard Rock Café in New York City on October 22, 1998, and the inclusion of JoseFeliciano.com to Great Guitar Sites, we are pleased to include this page dedicated to the guitar, its history and Feliciano's contributions to it.