Hand Made in L.A.: Performance Enhancers

How to make the same old songs sound a whole lot better

Photograph by Mindee Choi


Master woodworker Pat Bylard of Eagle Rock builds bongos of great tonal variety and austere beauty, ranging from his “Artista,” a European birch box that you sit on while you play, to the conical Desi Arnaz-inspired “Babalu.” » Available at Professional Drum Shop, 854 Vine St., Hollywood, 323-469-6285.


James Trussart Custom Guitars 
Trussart got his start building fiddles and established his name with steel guitars and basses. Gorgeously distressed, his instruments—each born in his Echo Park workshop—have a timeless aspect and a sound that has caused grown men to blubber. » Available at Pasadena Guitars, 27 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena, 626-405-2999.


J. Michael G. Fischer 
Is it a Fischer or a Stradivarius? During his 25 years building and restoring violins, Fischer has developed a knack for duplicating the masterpieces—and admiration among professional musicians. » 323-665-0753.


James Tyler Guitars 
Based in Van Nuys, Tyler specializes in electrics. A slew of pros have cottoned to his handiwork: traditional curves (think Stratocaster or Les Paul) with finishes that range from simple (the “Black Classic”) to surreal (the “Psychedelic Vomit”). » Available at LA Sound Design, 2409 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818-845-8663.



El Dorado Guitar Accessories 
At El Dorado Guitar Accessories in Pasadena, Bill Silverman produces leather guitar straps that include the unadorned and hand-tooled, nickel-silver buckled numbers. » 626-791-4995.



Candelas Guitars 
The Delgado family has been in the luthier business for more than 60 years. Crammed with classical, flamenco, and mariachi guitars (ukuleles, too), their shop is revered turf. » 2724 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Boyle Heights, 323-261-2011.