A mandolin with custom rosette and fret board inlay made by Pimentel & Sons.
Pimentel & Sons
As anyone who has a musician in their life already knows, the folks who strum, pluck, twist knobs, bang on or otherwise manipulate musical instruments can be notoriously picky when gift-giving time approaches. Some might even be openly—nay wantonly—disdainful of so-called ‘normal’ holiday gifts due to their serious and uncompromising connection to that thing called music.
In such situations, one can almost predict the dialogue that follows yearly present-opening rituals. A typical response might go something like this:
“What do ya mean, ‘where’s the Korg CA-40 Electronic Chromatic Tuner that Santy Claws promised he’d send?’ I know you heard it would come wrapped up in sheet music lovingly taken from the latest recording by Grimes—tied with magnetic ribbons made from master tapes left behind by the Glimmer Twins when they evacuated Muscle Shoals in order to drive around the southern countryside looking for action—but you ought to appreciate the socks I got you. They’re awful colorful and you can wear them to your next gig, after all.”
Well fret not, readers. With the right amount of forethought, attention to detail and inside knowledge, you can proceed through the next six weeks confident of your choices and prepared to receive some awesome tuneage as grateful reciprocation.
Let’s start at the top of the charts, right here in New Mexico, while searching for the perfect present for those with symphonic, soulful or other sweet-sounding inclinations.
Harps of Lorien
The Blue Eyed Dragon Harp
Harps of Lorien
Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, way up north (just like Santy’s legendary workshop!) is the home of Harps of Lorien. Founder Raphael Weisman studied musical instrument technology for years abroad before bringing his sense of craft and melody to the outskirts of Questa, NM. Weisman believes in the healing qualities of music and imbued his creations with a calming sensibility designed to encourage practice and play. In 2011, he retired and turned over operations of this magically manifested and oftimes sculptural enterprise to woodworker Michael Chastain and his wife Terry.
Together the two continue to produce and market some of the most amazing instruments made in our state. From simple, yet sumptuously designed door harps priced at $45 to children’s “Little Minstrel” harps starting on sale at $289 and full-sized instruments in black walnut or cherrywood that begin at $1200, Harps of Lorien might just have what your friends with plucky attitudes crave. It takes four to eight weeks to produce each instrument, so time is of the essence. Harps of Lorien can be reached at harpsoflorien.com or by ringing 877-273-8009.
Pimentel & Sons Guitars
Custom inlay on a Pimentel Guitar
Pimentel & Sons
Closer to home but nonetheless precious—thereby wanted by just about anyone who takes their musical endeavors seriously—are the legendary luthiers at Pimentel & Sons. Founder Lorenzo and son Agustin left a rich legacy. Each guitar made by Rick, Robert and Victor is handcrafted and designed specifically for an individual player. The Pimentels began their work of making classical and flamenco guitars more than 60 years ago; today their produce is considered the finest in the world. Starting with the standard M-1 Classical Guitar ($3000) and moving up through the Classical Grand Concert Jacaranda Indo Dream Catcher ($15,000), each Pimentel guitar features expert craftsmanship joined with superior articulation and purely seamless sound-making potential. Pimentel & Sons make a variety of custom string instruments including classical and electric guitars, ukuleles and mandolins. They’re available for your detection, inspection and holiday-time purchases at pimentelguitars.com or at 505-884-1669.
Apple Mountain Music
Ocarinas from Apple Mountain Music
Apple Mountain Music
Apple Mountain Music, up in the far Northeast Heights, is one of the best and most affordable places to shop for folk instruments of all varieties. Traditionally a center of our town’s folk and Americana subculture, stopping by Apple Mountain Music is akin to visiting the universal locus of all that is sublimely and succinctly melodic. Owner Debra Fortess stocks a plethora of charming sonic supplies. Included in the massive Apple Mountain Music Catalog are fab and folky gifts such as ocarinas, Appalachian dulcimers, harmonicas, bowed psalteries, autoharps and recorders—just the thing if your kin’s next gig is at the Grand Ole Opry or Austin City Limits.
For those on a budget, Apple Mountain Music also rents some righteous implements too; for a low monthly fee, one can take home and learn the intricacies of the fiddle, mandolin, banjo or hammered dulcimer. Instruction from some of our town’s notable string players is also available. Instructors include harpist Anne Eisfeller, multi-instrumentalist Gretchen Van Houten and ukelele master Michael VeSeart. Apple Mountain Music is open Fridays and Saturdays and can be reached at applemtnmusic.com or 505-237-2048.
If all that seems a bit esoteric for your holiday gift-giving tastes, you can always take your chances at a local big box like Hastings, where I’m told one can acquire a mass-produced acoustic guitar for just less than a Benjamin—but if you take that path, don’t say I didn’t warn you when you end up in the exchanges queue hoping that pair of socks on aisle five is still awaiting your indulgence.