Handmade in O.C.: Monica’s Guitars

Keeping a centuries-old tradition alive

For the past 13 years, Monica Esparza has been crafting Spanish guitars in her San Clemente shop. “I do everything but chop down the tree,” she says. After taking a guitar-making class 15 years ago at Orange Coast College, Esparza sought a spot in a highly competitive workshop taught in Spain by famed luthier Jose Romanillos. She was selected in 2004—the only woman in a class of 20 students from around the world—and has been invited back to improve her skills every year since.




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