Meet Your Maker Monday: Michael Viteri
I was at Menil Park, trying out some new-to-me camera gear, when I saw two men playing American songbook standards on guitar. I spent some time taking pictures of them, and when we got to talking, one of the men offered up that the other made the instruments that they were using. They showed me details of the guitars, including some art hidden inside the body of one of them. At that point I knew I'd found someone for the MYMM series. So please read on and meet guitar maker Michael Viteri.
What is your name, company, URL, and social media links?
Michael Viteri of Viteri Guitars; http://www.viteriguitars.com/gallery.html
What do you make?
I make Archtop and Selmer style guitars.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me starts with tea after stretching my back. Then I play guitar, teach guitar lessons and retire to my work shop for a long night of guitar making.
Why did you decide to start your own business and why Houston?
I grew up in Houston, and after living in Taiwan for a short while I realized that if I wanted to do this seriously I had better work up a reputation. The only way to do that is to make a great product and put it in the hands of someone that can present your work to a target audience. I'm a guitarist and love all types of guitar-heavy music. But my love is classic swing and jazz. Kelly Doyle is a local guitarist that is hip to the same stuff I like and I love his playing, so naturally I wanted to make a guitar for him. He's on tour with Robert Ellis and playing that guitar in greenroom jam sessions with other guitarists. That's the best marketing you can have.
What are your inspirations and how do they guide your work?
I really love classic jazz guitars. The classic guitars of D'aquisto, D'Angelico, Gibson, Selmer / Maccaferri, as well as some contemporary makers have influenced my work. Most all of them were developed during the Art Deco period of the '30's and '40's. They're timeless designs. I've used blueprints and the original guitars as a guide for my work. I pretty much started out making copies.
What's next for Michael Viteri?
Although I've been building for about 14 years, I only recently started doing it as a serious business after I quit teaching guitar at HISD. I'm now finalizing designs that will distinguish me from other makers. My next step is building a new and bigger shop space.
What do you want people to know about your work?
People should know that I love what I do and am happy helping them get what they want. Most guitarists don't know anything about guitars and I love teaching people about how they work and how to make them better. If you want a guitar made to fit your needs I can certainly help. Even if you have questions or need help setting up a guitar made elsewhere, I'll be glad to help.