Musical Mastery in Michoacan: The Story of Paracho’s Guitar Craftsmen
Don’t miss a visit to Paracho Michoacan, better known as the guitar capital of the world.
The name of this Magical Town comes from a Chichimeca word meaning “offering.”
This community has been growing recognition for the artisans who develop their creativity giving life to beautiful and high-quality guitars.
Where is Paracho Michoacan?
History of Paracho
First of all, I will tell you a bit about the history of Paracho so that you will know more about this place before your visit.
This charming town was built after the arrival of the Spaniards to Mexico.
It was founded in 1754 with the name of San Pedro Paracho and was composed of 9 municipalities.
As stated by historians, during the Porfiriato period, excessive logging caused deforestation in Paracho.
In 1862 it was granted the title of Villa and was given the name “Paracho de Verduzco” in honor of Don Sixto Verduzco.
At the time of independence, he was a priest and later would be named captain-general of Michoacan.
Designation of Paracho as a Magical Town
Paracho is one of the 132 Magical Towns that are currently in Mexico.
It was granted this award on December 8, 2020, so as you can see, it is a relatively new Magical Town.
According to SECTUR (Mexico’s tourism bureau), a “Magical Town” is a locality that presents specific symbolic attributes, such as arts and handicrafts, important historical events, gastronomy, and tourist services and infrastructure.
As I mentioned, Paracho was added in 2020 to the other eight magical towns that the State of Michoacan already had.
Visit the Monumental Guitar
The Purepechas (native Indians from Michoacan) have always been known for their wooden handicrafts, and this time has been no exception.
That is why they decided to make a monumental guitar, as this has given them a cultural identity and international recognition.
This guitar welcomes you at the entrance of Paracho; before entering this fabulous place, don’t forget to take a picture with the giant guitar.
I’m sure you watched the movie Coco (and if you haven’t, do it!). Well, this monumental guitar I’m talking about is a giant replica of the guitar of Miguel de la Cruz.
Although the Spaniards introduced the guitar in Mexico, it has become one of Mexicans’ most loved musical instruments.
What is a luthier’s workshop? They are guitar factories that create or repair musical instruments, mainly guitars and violins.
They have also been known for custom-making them since they are handcrafted.
I invite you to visit one of the workshops to learn about the manufacturing process of the famous Paracho guitars.
La Purépecha is a place with more than 20 years of experience creating these instruments, and they have guided tours inside their workshops.
Stroll the streets in Downtown Paracho Michoacan
Another thing to do here is to take a break on a bench in the main square. Every weekend, musicians come here to play a song for the visitors.
Also, several artisans come to sell some of their creations, including guitars. Another activity you can do here is to relax and enjoy the tranquility of this small town.
After a good walk, you’ll want to eat something good, so I will tell you a little about the gastronomy of this place.
Among the most popular dishes in Paracho, you will find the churipo, a broth made with red chiles, vegetables, and beef.
Another typical dish is atapakua, a pre-Hispanic dish similar to a mole but with pork and vegetables.
Or you can try corundas, a typical dish of the Purépecha culture, which are dumplings covered with sauce and can also be served with pork.
These are two of the best restaurants in town:
- Los Arcos Family Restaurant
- Shupakata Restaurant
International Guitar Festival
This festival is for you if you are a music and instruments lover, especially guitars. This is one of the most important events in Paracho, where you can participate in sporting and cultural activities.
And of course, you can enjoy the talent of the artisans who create these popular guitars.
Also, in this festival, some of the local dishes I mentioned above are sold, and demonstrations of the typical dances of Paracho are presented. This fair takes place from August 3 to 11.
Cantoya Balloon Festival in Paracho Michoacan
As is customary every year, this festival is full of colors, parties, and music.
The cantoya balloons have allowed the artisans to let their imaginations fly and make unique, truly amazing figures.
Something distinguished about the region is the passion for maintaining its traditions. For this reason, cantoya balloons continue to exist.
The number of balloons presented increases, around 120, and counting every year.
These balloons are raised with the help of 7 to 10 people, depending on the size; some stretch the balloon, and others light and maintain the fire.
This event is held during the rainy season, as it keeps the atmosphere humid so that no accidents occur.
If you are interested, this festival takes place from July 26 to 28, and I assure you that you will not regret it if you go.
One of the best options to find the local handicrafts that the inhabitants of Paracho make is the Casa del Artesano.
In all of these creations, you can see reflected the love for the culture that represents the people of Michoacan.
You will also find pieces that are highly representative of their traditions.
If you visit Paracho and are nearby, tour the artisan’s house to learn more about this place.
Visit the Guitar Museum in Paracho
If you want to know more about this musical instrument, this museum is for you.
As I’ve said, Paracho is the cradle of Mexican guitars, so a museum in their honor is a must.
It shows the best guitars manufactured here; different types and sizes exist. They also tell you the history of the beginnings of Michoacán guitar manufacturing.
The museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., so don’t hesitate to take a tour and learn more about this iconic instrument.
The Coco movie
You probably remember the movie Coco, one of the highest-grossing movies in the world.
This movie helped many people to know a little more about the traditions of my beautiful country.
One of the details that caught the attention of many is the white guitar Miguel de la Cruz played.
And you know what? It was made in Paracho Michoacan by a famous artist named Germán Vázquez Rubio.
According to people close to him, he left his town, but never his culture, to succeed in the United States.
This process took nine months. He used European maple, German wood, and 24-karat gold to make it look the same.
If you are a movie fan and want to have a guitar like the one designed by Mr. Germán, the best ones are in Paracho.
This little town has other things to offer you; one is the celebration of the corpus, where people give away some of the pieces they make.
Every first week of August, the artisans take their work to the streets wearing the typical costumes of Paracho.
If you visit Paracho during these days, don’t miss this event, not only for the products but also to learn more about their creations.
How much does a guitar in Paracho Michoacan cost?
If you are interested in buying a guitar, you will find two types: economical and expensive.
These guitars range from 800 pesos (40 USD) to the most expensive ones, costing up to 40,000 (2,000 USD).
Now that you know more about Paracho, don’t hesitate to visit and enjoy its colorful festivals and solid string instruments.
Also, buying a guitar and starting to play an instrument can be one of the best decisions of your life.