Seventy-eight-year-old guitarist Orlando
Pirez was a mainstay of the Cuban music
scene for decades beginning in the late ’60s.
In response to economic hardship, Pirez not
only built and repaired his own instruments—
he constructed a string-winding machine
(pictured) and made his own strings. Recently,
however, Pirez received a Baby Taylor guitar
from William G. Hamby, who was in Havana
researching Cuban music. The Taylor belonged
to Hamby’s son Patrick, who was killed in an
automobile accident. “I presented the guitar
at Orlando’s kitchen table on April 21, the
seventh anniversary of my son’s death,” relates
Hamby. “I watched him unpack, caress, and
play the little ax, and afterward he said, ‘This
guitar will have a good home here.’ It was quite
a moment for both of us.”
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