We currently have two guitars from the Manuel Contreras shop that happen to span 48 years of Contreras guitar making – a perfect 1968 Manuel Contreras peghead flamenco blanca and a brand-new 2016 Manuel Contreras II “10th Anniversary Premium Series” – and this got us thinking that one of the constants in the Contreras shop for over 25 years now has been Victoria Velasco. If you visited the Contreras shop in Madrid while Manuel Sr. or Pablo Contreras were alive chances are you’ve met Victoria.
I met Victoria in 1989 when I first went I first visited the shop (of course I didn’t know she had just started working there) earlier that year. Often as not Manuel or Pablo were in the back making guitars and Victoria was the one who would patiently show you guitars and tell you whatever you needed to know about the guitars or what was happening in the Madrid guitar scene.
In 1989 Victoria had finished her advanced guitar studies at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid (RCSMM), as well as her language studies – English, French and German at the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas in Madrid – and was earning a living as a music teacher when she heard about a job opening at Contreras. They were looking for someone who played guitar and spoke English to help run the shop. Contreras father and son were working on the new double-top system and wanted someone who could help them test and play the guitars as well. They all hit it off right away and Victoria has been the face of Contreras ever since.
In 2011, with the sudden passing of Manuel Contreras II (known to everyone as Pablo) the family agreed that the only person who could keep the shop running was Victoria, and while they have had to shut the shop at Calle Mayor, they have a beautiful new shop on Calle Segovia where you will still find Victoria and the great guitars designed by Manuel Sr. and Pablo.
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