We had the good fortune of connecting with Sean Armendariz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sean, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
In 2001 while I was out on a date with my soon to be wife at Universal Studios City Walk, we walked into one of the shops and saw that someone had made a lamp out of a guitar. It was badly made, falling apart, way overpriced and was obvious that someone had taken a perfectly good guitar and chopped it up to make a lamp. My wife and I both being musicians were really bothered by the fact that a guitar was destroyed to make a piece of furniture. I thought to myself, “I bet I could make it better… and not destroy a perfectly good instrument in the process.” A few days later I came upon a guitar that was broken beyond hope of repair. So that became my first project. After that I found more and more terminal instruments and the creations just started expanding. We still make lamps, but we make all sorts of other things from key chains to jewelry to picture frame holders and wall decor. A lot of the displays in our shop are made from broken instruments as well.
The more instruments I took apart to recreate as something else, the better I got at repairing instruments. In 2010, while working at a major musical instrument retailer… that I would rather not mention… I realized that there would probably be no future for me in big box music retail. I knew that I would have to have another trade besides making home decor for musicians in order to survive. So, I began to seriously learn how to repair instruments.
I knew I would have to get business cards but I wasn’t sure what to call the business. I repurpose, repair and recycle instruments. The name “Recycled Rock N Roll” came to me while I was standing in the parking lot of my former employer.
It’s ironic to think: if they had treated me better and paid a decent wage, I may never have even thought about going into business for myself.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Recycled Rock N Roll only creates art from instruments that are beyond reasonable repair. When I get an instrument, the first thing I do is evaluate it to see if it can be repaired. Most instruments I get can be repaired, so they are sold second hand after the repairs and adjustments are complete. Its only after exhausting all possible avenues that I set an instrument aside for artwork and the creative process. We hate waste. Guitars are made from wood. Wood comes from trees. We feel that 1. it is wasteful to destroy a perfectly good instrument and 2. even more wasteful for a guitar to end up in a landfill.
If it can’t continue its existence as a playable instrument, maybe it can become something else.
Over the years I have made and sold a lot of lamps and other decor in consignment shops and eBay. It’s crazy to think that my creations are literally spread all over the country in homes and restaurants and bars.
Our brick and mortar is still new. We have only been open about 9 months now. So I wouldn’t go so far as to call us a success just yet. What I have learned along the way to where we are is that we are pretty much in this on our own. Nobody is coming to help us. We have to do it ourselves.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was to come visit, I would probably just have them come to my house. All the places I would want to go to have been closed down for years. If we could somehow travel back in time… I would take them to Cafe Luna which used to be in my hometown of Rancho Cucamonga. It’s the place I pretty much grew up in from about age 17 to 27. A lot of good memories and a lot of good friends and good times there. A lot of good friends that are no longer with us as well. Next, I would take them to “The Derby” that used to be in Hollywood on Los Feliz. It was a beautiful club and bar. The owners were cool, the music was awesome, and the overall vibe was incredible. It’s a bank now.
Aside from those two places, the only other place I would bring them would be our shop. We tried to create a vibe and feel of all the places we always loved to shop and hang out.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would have to start by thanking Jerry Bizon who owns Stringed Instrument Services in Arcadia for letting me pick his brain when I first started experimenting with instrument repairs. Also, Bob Scarff who is a master brass and woodwind technician who retired a few years ago… and sold me his tools at a great price I might add. Bob is such a wealth of knowledge and has helped me through quite a few repair issues that had me stumped. Last but not least I would have to thank Chris Callans who is a world class Luthier, guitar tech. and electronics expert. He really helped me refine my technique and corrected a lot of things that I learned to do the wrong way. My wife and children, above everyone else, have always been my biggest inspiration. If not for them, there would be no reason for me to try to do… anything. I would probably have just stayed stuck in a dead end job believing that if I worked hard, one day it would pay off. One day, they would appreciate me. One day, the company would see my dedication and would reward me.
I’m so grateful that they treated me the way that they did. If they hadn’t, I would have probably gone on forever drinking the company Kool-aid.

Website: recycledrockandroll.com

Instagram: recycledrockandroll

Yelp: Recycled Rock N Roll

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