I guess it started by in 1990 when I first moved back to San Antonio. My brother mentioned to me that he had seen a Martin 12 string at a pawn shop and it was pretty cheap. I went to check it out and it had only 6 strings on it which is not that uncommon for folks to decide that a 12 string is just too much and restring it for 6. The action wasn’t too bad so I negotiated for it and got it for a good price.
After getting it home and strung up with a light gauge 12 string set I discovered the action was just impossibly high. It sounded great, but was hard to play and the intonation went sharp as you played up the neck. The diagnosis was a problem I had heard of before; it was in need of a neck reset. The neck isn’t warped, but the body has “bellied” some from years of having 200+ pounds of string tension pulling on it. Eventually it’s needed on most all steel string guitars. So now the repair on my Martin 12 string was going to cost as much as I paid for the guitar itself. After asking around I found that at that time there really wasn’t anyone in San Antonio doing major work on high end acoustic guitars. A city of a million people without a shop that could do a professional job of resetting necks, replacing a fingerboard, binding, or major restoration work?
Being in need of a career change I decided that I should be the one to take up the torch and I enrolled in Bryan Galloup’s guitar building and repair program in Michigan. It was an exceptional experience and I met lots of wonderful people and learned what I needed to get going in guitar repair. I came back from school and audaciously rented a space on Bandera Road where I hung out my shingle as a guitar repairman. After a few years struggling with that Al Flores of Alamo Music Center asked me to take over from Ed Fest who was doing stringed instrument repairs for them, but was in very poor health at that time.
For nearly three years I worked in the basement of the downtown Alamo Music Center where I was able to get up to speed and make my work efficient. I learned a lot there and got to see and handle a wealth and variety of instruments that made for an overall excellent experience at Alamo Music Center and I made a decent income. Growing old and living out my days in the basement of Alamo Music was just not a vision I had for myself, so when a friend asked me if I’d be interested in opening a guitar shop in Olmos Park I pretty much jumped at the idea.
I didn’t have the funds or means to open up even a modest shop at that time, so I needed the help of a partner to make it happen. My partner decided to bail out after just a few months, leaving me starting a fledgling business without the business savvy to make it happen. It wasn’t too difficult to find another investor to make a small investment and become a partner. That relationship lasted for several years before going sour and ended up leaving back at square one, literally having to start over again.
From the beginning I’ve wanted to be a Martin dealer, because that’s what I grew up on. If you wanted a really great acoustic, nothing else came close. Problem was that there was no openings for a new Martin dealership in this territory. Larrivee became my first brand of quality acoustic guitars, because they are great guitars and because they were willing to deal with a little shop like mine. Through the years Guitar Tex has had a number of guitar lines and some of them are no longer in our product lines. I’m pleased to state that today we are both a dealer and a warranty center for Martin Guitars and we are still proudly selling Larrivee Guitars.
Today there are few repairs that I do myself, leaving them to Guitar Wrangler John Thurston, who has been at it for over 40 years. The shop is still a small Olmos Park shop and that’s just how I like. Our customers seem to as well.