Lydia Mendoza was a Mexican American recording star of the 1920's and 30's, and again in the 1970s and 80s. She was an incredible guitar player and singer. In the 1920's and 30's she played a very distinct 12 string guitar which was always a mystery to me. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the 12 string guitar, guitarra doble, was quite poplar in Mexican music. Oscar Schmidt marketed some of their 12 strings as "Mexican 12 strings", and I have seen photographs of early Mexican musicians playing Stella 12s. In the 1940s and 50s the bajo sexto came to overshadow the guitarra doble and these days they are virtually nonexistent in Mexican music. I did quite a bit of research on Lydia's 12 string and found that it was made by Guadalupe Acosta, who immigrated to San Antonio, Texas after the Mexican Revolution. Mr. Acosta set up a shop and music store in San Antonio, eventually being joined in his work by his sons Miguel, Luis and Jesus. Guadalupe's grandson, Mike Acosta, told me, "In the old days, they would make a dozen six strings, then a dozen 12 strings. Eventually, all they were making was bajos." Mike was very helpful to me in making this 12 string, providing photos of other guitars the family had made, as well as information on the woods they used and the bracing of the guitars. As Lydia's 12 string disappeared in the 1940's and I was unable to find an example of another Acosta 12 string, I had to analyze all the photos I could find of Lydia with the guitar, as well as photos of the Acosta's working in their shop. For more on this project, please see my in depth blog posting: fraulini.blogspot.com/2014/06/lydia-mendoza-and-her-acosta-12-string.html
Here's my friend NIkki Grossman for whom I built the 12 string. Nikki is a fantastic musician, who in addition to being a great guitar player and singer who does beautiful renditions of Lydia Mendoza's songs, is a exceptionally good fiddler and songwriter. She lives in Wisconsin's Driftless region and plays in the duo The Yellow Bellied Sap Suckers. To find out more check out their website: sapsuckersmusic.com
And here's the queen herself, Lydia Mendoza, on her Acosta 12 string. If you haven't heard of Lydia Mendoza, I really encourage you to check her out. She is one of the finest 12 string players of all time, and she sings like a bird. I recommend her early recordings on the Mal Hombre collection on Arhoolie.