Everyone at our house can play the guitar except mom. It’s not such a surprise if you consider that we live in the island where guitar shops and factories are located.
These Mactan guitars, commonly called “Cebu guitars” are famous all over the Philippines for its craftsmanship. Some handmade acoustic guitars and other string instruments like ukelele and cocolele are even exported to many countries across the globe for decades now.
I had a customized Mactan guitar at aged 14. I can play the guitar not exceptionally though but it’s passable. The first songs I played to where slow rock pieces, particularly songs by the bands Scorpion, Chicago and such oldies. Dad taught me how to play the guitar that explains the song selection. Hehe.
Kenneth and Nicko were self-taught, their music choice includes current hits and chart toppers whereas I, yes I, seem to be stuck in the pre-2000 era, even today. Hahaha.
Anyhow, last Christmas, my brother pooled his Christmas cash gifts to buy a guitar. That was on his wish list for a bit of time now since his last guitar got broken. He was waiting for Christmas so he can add the money gifts to his savings and finally buy a new one that is of high quality.
His main requirement was that the sound must be good regardless of the look although I doubt if he will buy a guitar that look gaudy but sound amazing lol.
Guitar Shopping in Cebu
It was the holiday season and there were lots of sales and special deals from stores, restaurants and almost all establishments. Selected guitars were also on sale prompting Nicko to go with me, Titus and Kenneth to SM Cebu so he can check out the sale items and ask our opinion.
We visited music and instrument stores in SM like Perfect Pitch, JB Music and Salonga Music.
Nicko was looking at price ranges of Php 4,000 to Php 6,000, the more expensive models were not an option. Heck No!
He found a good one on sale, a Fernando guitar, but was thinking twice if he will spend all his savings and Christmas money on the China made guitar or not. It was a choice between have the Fernando guitar he was eyeing and then goes broke come New Year hehehe or look for other options.
Kenneth and I was berating him why not check the guitar shops that are so near our house. It’s like three blocks away, he should be looking there first, was our thoughts.
Guitar Master: A Popular Shop in Mactan
Mid of 2012, I requested him to buy a Mactan guitar for a friend. It was a strip down, basic unit, a bit smaller than the regular “standard” size. He was able to buy one for P1,400, a very similar one retails at P2,100 in an SM guitar kiosks.
Instead of going home straight with us after our SM trip, he decided to drop by the guitar shops near the Mactan – Mandaue Bridge. This is the spot where most tourists go and buy Mactan guitars, ukulele and other guitar themed souvenirs because its an accessible place.
Most guitar factories are found in Abuno, a barangay deep inside Lapu – Lapu City, going there is doable but can be tricky.
Anyhow, good thing because Nicko found a ‘potential one’ at Guitar Master that was more affordable than the Fernando guitar.
It was late night and no other customer was in the store. Nicko asked how much the price of the Mactan guitar that caught his fancy, the Guitar Master staff said ‘usually this type of standard acoustic guitar cost around five to six thousand but I can give this to you for three thousand five hundred.’
Nicko did not commit yet as he wants to have someone else check this unit from Guitar Master before he takes it. The following day our dad accompanied him to the store to look at the guitar.
Before committing to anything, he explored and tested other available guitars. He saw a more ‘choy guitar’ that’s his word. This second guitar sounds more exceptional and looks cleaner with its glossed white look compared to the one he was eyeing the night before.
“Choy” is colloquial term for “nindot”,”cool”, “nice” etc.
He tested the white guitar with all manners of playing and using different finger style – strumming, plucking, tapping, drifting etc. They were the only customer at Guitar Master at that time so Papa was able to chitchat with the staff. Not surprisingly, there were common friends between my dad and the staff because we are from the same neighborhood.
Then a new customer arrived. The girl was saying she just got back from checking the available selections in the other guitar shops on the same strip and found the guitars there expensive.
The staff showed basic guitars to her which normally cost around P1,500 to P2,500. But when the girl saw Nicko playing the white guitar and after listening to the way it sound, she remarked to the staff ‘Mas nice lagi paminawon ang guitar na mas dako like what that guy’s holding.’
“The sound coming from the ‘bigger’ guitar sound nicer.”
The staff took a similar guitar to the white one that Nicko was holding and said while strumming ‘This is a standard guitar and is in the range of 5 to 6 thousand. We also have flagship guitars eared for export starting at around P7,000 and up.”
They were discussing prices etc and Nicko was still eavesdropping lol. In his defense he said he can’t help it, they were discussing in front of him.
He said that the girl should have haggled more to bring the price down. Anyhow, the girl and the staff strike a deal, the girl walked away from the store while Nicko was still mulling what to get – the guitar from the previous night or the white guitar.
Our father asked how much is the price of the Mactan guitar that Nicko was holding (the white one). By this time, they were several new customers crowding the shop; the staff said ‘Hala!’ as if in epiphany. “I priced that guitar wrong earlier, that white guitar is strictly priced at P5,000. But I can give that to you for P4,800.”
“Ha? P4,800?” frustrated Nicko said.
When he first hold the white guitar that morning of their visit, the price quoted to him was that it can be haggled up to P3,500. Lol kambyo kay daghang customers na? Or honest mistake? You decide. Hehe
A Lesson in Buying Cebu Guitar
Sometimes it pays to get want you want at first instance, before loads of customer arrives and ups the prices. Supply and Demand, brother. 😉
Since he was no longer willing to part with more than P3,500, he picked the guitar again from the night before. “You’ll give me this for P3,500 right?” The staff said yes.
Papa butt-in and the ‘neighbor discount’ came into play. Ultimately, my brother paid only P3,100 for the guitar that he originally wanted. I played the guitar myself and I think he made a good deal. \o/
Make of the Cebu acoustic guitar that my brother finally bought:
The body was made from plywood but the sides were made from the hardwood Mahogany. A detachable strap or sling is included for easy carrying while playing the guitar.
The pick guard is plastic while the decorative inlay surrounding the soundhole as well as the perimeter of the body looks like shells to me. Not 100% sure though. The guitar soft case was given as a freebie. Actually I think the soft case is P100, that’s why he paid a total of P3,100 for the whole thing.
Standard Guitar from Guitar Master
When he got home he was still remembering the white one and said to us ‘bai, that guitar was more choy. I should have bought it when it was first offered at P3,500.”
He did not get it but he has a good quality guitar now. Another way to look at things is that the guitar he first picked – the original one from the night before – was really meant for him.
So what does all this mean for me? Well, my brother has some left over money from his guitar fund / budget. I think I should ask him to buy me some chocolates or ice cream. \o/
You can also read these Cebu Guitar related posts: