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UHS teacher Nevarez crafts instrument

Uvalde High School senior Jeyden Gonzales (right) interviews UHS building trades instructor Albert Nevarez for a feature on the custom guitar Nevarez made for himself, combing carpentry and music, two of his passions.

Uvalde High School construction trades teacher Albert Nevarez has worked with wood most of his adult life. He worked as a finish carpenter in multi-million-dollar homes in Austin. But his latest project is a real labor of love as he built his own electric guitar.

Nevarez has always been interested in guitars, as music is a big part of his family. “I’m not a professional by any means but my dad plays guitar. My mom was a singer, so it’s always kind of been in the family. My dad taught me my first steps playing guitar.”

Nevarez applied his construction knowledge to building his own electric guitar, a project that took him six years to complete. “When I started it. I worked on it maybe a couple of weeks, and then I’d stop, because I was busy doing other things. Then I’d come back to it. If I had stayed with it, day in and day out, it would have probably taken about three weeks from start to finish.”

Nevarez used oak as the basic structure, mahogany for inner layers, maple for the guitar’s neck and rosewood for the fretboard. The guitar’s pickguard was made out of carved leather. “These are not my carvings, but I do want to learn how to do this myself and kind of create my own different designs for the pickboard.” 

After all his work, Nevarez’s guitar has proven to be a success. “A lot of people have tried it out and they like it. I do plan on building some more.” 

Along with building more electric guitars, Nevarez also plans on building acoustic guitars, which are more complicated to build. “For those, actually you do use what they call tone woods. Whenever you build an acoustic guitar, it has a hole that resonates the sound coming out and so in that case, the selection of wood is very important. For electric guitars, not so much.”

Construction has been a mainstay in Nevarez’s life. He worked all through high school, and was taught to pour concrete house foundations by his science teacher. He and his brother would work every day after school and during the summers.

Uvalde High School building trades instructor Albert Nevarez plays his electric guitar.

He eventually graduated to framing, then “climbed the ladder” to reach the level of a finish carpenter. Nevarez spent nine years as a framer and the last 12 years working interior only. 

“And those last 12 years, I was working on houses that range anywhere from two million to 16 million dollars, doing all the interior carpentry with a five-man crew.” 

This included work on homes for Sandra Bullock and Lance Armstrong. This was during a time when Armstrong was dating Sheryl Crow. Crow stayed to oversee the house construction while Armstrong was in France en route to his 7th Tour de France victory.

“It was a very, very cool thing to do. One of the highlights of my career was working on those homes.”

His fine carpentry work can also be seen in the desks and podium of the school district board room. He also built the large conference table used during board closed sessions.

As for his latest project, Nevarez can actually demonstrate his product. He has played guitar for two bands in the past. “I’m not a pro by any means, but I have played with a country band before, and not too long ago, I was playing with a rock band, out of Knippa.” While Nevarez can’t be too involved in a band due to his busy life, he has found a bit of a solution. “I mean everybody wants to be a rock star. I miss it, but I make up for it just by playing by myself, in my home. You can buy backtracks, that the whole band is playing and you fill in with the guitar because it’s missing.”

And his music plays on. But this time on his own creation.

UHS journalism is under the instruction of Jennie Duran