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The RJ Guitar Story

Ramon “RJ” Jacinto, having his first hit in the Philippines as early as 1961, is one of the pioneers of electric guitars in the Philippines.

In 1987, Ramon “RJ” Jacinto came back from exile (which spanned Martial Law) and began re-establishing his businesses. He performed thrice a week at his own rock n' roll club, the RJ Bistro, and grew tired of switching between his Fender Jazzmaster to a Gibson Les Paul during performances.
 
He approached the late Filipino luthier Rudy Discipulo to build him a guitar which could sound like a Les Paul, a Stratocaster, and a Jazzmaster. Soon, Discipulo came up with a versatile guitar that exceeded RJ’s specifications by having 22 sounds – the RJ Series One Roadtone.

RJ saw the potential in the guitar and asked Discipulo: "Do you want to take an exciting journey with me? Wouldn't it be nice if someday our guitars could hold up to Fenders or Gibsons?" Discipulo agreed. His small hole-in-the-wall guitar repair shop became the first RJ Guitar Center, and the Roadtone became the first RJ Guitar (The RJ Roadtone was the predecessor to the now popular RJ Supervintage 5-Guitar-in-1 which was launched in the late 2000s).

Today, there are 10 RJ Guitar Center branches, Online Store and over 100 distributors of RJ Guitars across the Philippines and around the world.

The RJ Guitar Factory – The Road to Japanese Quality Guitars in the Philippines
 
In 1990, RJ met Joe Yui, owner of L.A. Guitar Works in Reseda, California and former President of Schecter Guitars Japan, a meeting that would have a huge impact on the future of RJ Guitars. Yui, who had previously attended one of RJ’s performances at the RJ Bistro, asked him if he would like to forge a partnership in building world-class guitars in the Philippines for export to the world. In response, RJ told him to come to the Philippines in two weeks if he was serious.

Sure enough, Yui went to Manila and signed a deal with RJ. Yui and Disipulo set up shop and started building world-class RJ Guitars.
 
RJ Guitars soon began exporting to the U.S., Singapore and Australia as well when both RJ and Yui saw that hand-laid shell was attractive to foreign markets. They tapped the expert guitar makers and shell inlay artists of Cebu City to produce these guitars.
 
In the mid 2010s, RJ Guitars partnered with Deviser guitars of Japan (makers of Bacchus guitars, Headway guitars, STR and Seventy Seven guitars) to make Japanese-quality guitars in the Philippines for the quality-conscious Japanese market.

Now being able to produce Japanese-quality instruments at an attractive price-point in the Philippines, RJ Guitars launched the first Philippine-made and Philippine-branded instrument at the 2016 NAMM show – the now upgraded RJ Supervintage 5 Guitars-in-1. The RJ Supervintage received praise and rave reviews from international publications such as Harmony Central and The Guitarist magazine.

In 2023, RJ again paced guitar innovations by introducing the (to our knowledge) world’s first $99 stainless steel fret electric guitar – the RJ Basic Electrics. These guitars included premium specs such as bone nuts, shielding, HSH routing and stainless steel frets which were previously not found in entry-level guitars. All these specs contributed to RJ Guitars’ focus to ensure that the RJ Basic Electric guitars were highly playable, comfortable and most importantly enjoyable out of the box. The guitars immediately sold out and were a massive hit! RJ Guitars’ goal of an ultra-affordable guitar that can be enjoyed by beginners and experienced musicians alike was achieved. 

RJ Guitars is bringing the RJ Basic Electrics worldwide on Amazon.

In 2024, RJ Guitars is launching their Custom Shop Philippine Standard model lines in its factory in the Philippines which will use the same facilities and Japanese technology as those used to make Deviser’s guitars previously. These guitars will offer an unmatched level of Japanese quality builds paired with premium specs and ultra-premium hardware – proudly made in RJ’s factory in the Philippines. 

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