“A guitar’s soul can only be made using bare hands”
Nice to meet you.
My name is Adriano Sergio, I am an “Guitar artisan” from Portugal.
First, let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I have been playing musical instruments since I was 10 years old, and my first professional experience was in the 90’s, where was I accompanying artists as a bass player, and also having my own project.
My interest in the technical side of guitars sparked when I grew increasingly unsatisfied with my life as a touring musician, and by the end of the decade I gradually began fixing instruments more rather than actually playing them.
In parallel, the life on the road as an international guitar technician with bands such as Anthrax, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, Machine Head and Limp Bizkit, brought me in close contact with many of the classic guitar models we all know and appreciate, as well as the real needs of working and touring musicians.
Reflecting back on my past, I realize that my interest, and later passion, for crafting actually started when I was 5 or 6 years old, watching my father working with wood and metal as a hobby. I remember that very early in my life, my father gave me a set of woodworking tools, two of which still help me today when I am creating instruments. So, I guess I can saw that I was almost born with tools in my hands!
Speaking about young age, my relationship with Japan also started quite early. As a matter of fact, as a child, I spent a few years living in Paris, in the Japanese district, right next to the Louvres museum. I have found memories of that time, interacting with many Japanese people, and countless hours spent at the Louvre, mesmerized by all its artworks. My connection with Japan continued during my adulthood, as in 2004 I was mandated by ESP Japan to design some guitar models for them.
By the year 2005, all this gathered experience was materialized in Guitar Rehab London and Guitar Rehab Lisbon, two musical instrument repair, restoration and construction workshops. This is where and how my brand Ergon guitars was born.
The brand name comes from Greek, and although the term “ergonomics” naturally first comes to mind, the terms “Nature” and “Work” are also part of the meaning (I have a Greek friend; I will check with him) . In other words, this is a relation between work and nature, the final goal being to create an instrument that becomes an extension of not only the body (nature / physical), but also in an emotional way – as you will read about a few paragraphs bellow.
The impetus to begin building guitars was sparked by the requests of close clients, who were searching for an instrument that embodied their preferences of tone and comfort of use.
I believe the combination of all of my professional experience with a lifelong interest in art and design are inevitably reflected in the aesthetical aspect and ergonomic touch of Ergon boutique guitars.
My instruments are made to be a beautiful and natural extension of the musician’s body, as to grant a more fluid channel through which expression can be manifested.
As a matter of fact, Nature is one of my biggest inspiration; I am very close to Nature both physically and spiritually.
Each of my instrument has a unique personality, and none of them have the exact same shape. Actually, none of them have serial numbers; instead each has a name and/or a sub-name. That being said, to make things easier in terms of general specs and overall sound characteristics, I have grouped my instruments under different models, which are named after cities, islands and places in Portugal – for example Açores, Torres, Coimbra, Lisboa, Porto, Nazaré…
Let me tell you a little about the building process, and how I work.
First and foremost, I’m the only one who you will work on your instrument, and I am the person with whom you’ll be mostly interacting.
When I create a guitar for someone, I need to know who you are, so that it may be reflected on the instrument – this is very important for me.
I want to know the things that make you tick. Know your preferences in not only music, but also topics such as foods you like, the paintings you admire, the buildings you see with awe or the books you most fondly remember.
After we have a formal agreement on the project, I start drawing the first sketches and carve some three dimensional prototypes.
From this basis, we will commonly decide the combination of design and ergonomics. I will strive to make the instrument aesthetically appealing, yet the most important thing is that it has to be comfortable for you to enjoy for as long as you wish to play it.
Also, as I put part of my soul into each instrument I build, I have to in accordance with what elements are featured on a guitar; it has to “speak” to me. This is why, sometimes, if I do not feel comfortable with a specific customer request, I will try to understand the reason for that element, and then to work on a way where both the customer and I can be satisfied. This is an interaction done in collaboration with the customer, with the final goal being to elevate the instrument as much as possible.
As I like to say, “The only thing I can do is being true to myself.”.
When we move on to the actual wood / instrument, and if the distance is not an issur for you, I recommand coming by the workshop in Loulé and see the progress of the build and feel the work instrument in progress in your own hands. This would allow for important aspects such as the final shape profile of the neck to be the one you feel most pleased with.
I put a lot of importance on the wood selection and even more on the wood carving process, which is primordial to provide the instrument with a unique voice. When I work on this process, in order to get optimal results, I need to be in the flow, and work with the wood; not “on the wood”.
This is like a natural trance, which brings a spiritual dimension to the carving process. Actually, I usually request the customer to provide me with some music he/she likes and/or is associated with the project, and I will specifically listen to that music when I work on carving the guitar.
I hope that one day you might try out one of my instruments, and tell me what you think and feel.