Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

Chris Rodriguez is hard to miss. If you live just outside Chicago, and you see a gentleman with over-sized glasses, long curly hair, and a sombrero coming your way, chances are you’ve found him.

Years ago, Chris took his love of guitars to the next level, opening his own shop under the name xBLCx Custom Guitars. We talked to Chris about guitars, straight edge, and the use of burritos as a renewable energy source:

Straightedge Worldwide
Mr. Rodriguez; I would wager that there are very few people out there that are familiar with you and your little setup. Why don’t you tell everyone a little something about yourself?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Well I grew up and live in this city called Rockford, IL; it’s northwest of Chicago by about an hour.

I’m 24, and I make a living building and repairing instruments as a “luthier.”

Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

Chris works as a luthier, making and repairing stringed instruments

Straightedge Worldwide
And what’s the name of your shop?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
My shop is called XBLCX guitars. The BLC stands for Border Line Customs and the X’s, well, you know.

Straightedge Worldwide
Just guitars?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
My main focus is solid body electric guitars and basses; my main niche is extended range guitars and basses and harp guitars.

I do pretty much anything for repairs.

Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

Repairs ain’t no thang

Straightedge Worldwide
And do you ensure all of your instruments are [emblazoned] with Xs everywhere, or just 99% of them? Ok, maybe don’t answer that one…

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Every instrument I do that I sign for a large repair or a complete custom build will have the 3 X logo I do with paint marker.

Ha.

Straightedge Worldwide
How long have you been luthiering, and doing XBLCX?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
I’ve been a luthier and owner of XBLCX for 8 years. Since I was 16.

Straightedge Worldwide
Wow, and how’d you get into repairs and customs?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Well, being a broke high school kid and always wanting sweet custom guitars I decided to build one myself. I was already a wood worker and carpenter. It’s a lot cheaper, and I can’t blame anyone if my [shit] breaks.

Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

Dice knobs for extra swaggin’

Straightedge Worldwide
You must have got into straight edge pretty young then if you started XBLCX at 16…?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
I first got in straight edge around 14 when I 1st picked up a bass guitar.

Straightedge Worldwide
Why, was it Ian MacKaye’s bass guitar or something? From when he was in Teen [Idles]?

Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

Chris knows a thing or two about basses

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
I wish I could have those roots in that haha. I got interested in bass from jazz music. I got into the straight edge from being in a few bands and listening to metalcore at the time.

Straightedge Worldwide
Getting into edge that young, did you ever get told that you were just going through a phase?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
I was Buddhist at that time.

Straightedge Worldwide
So you were just going through a phase?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Sometimes I was told that. Most people where just floored by the idea of being 100% sober.

Straightedge Worldwide
But you survived past 21.

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Yes I did haha. None of that true till 22 BS.

Straightedge Worldwide
xFOREVER21x.

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
It was nice as Buddhism and edge have a lot in common.

Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

Straight Edge and Buddhism have a lot in common

Straightedge Worldwide
Like what? Is a lot of Buddhism about beating up smokers?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Not exactly.

Buddhism believes in keeping a clear and focused mind at all time, and it forbids drugs, drink, and the killing of animals for food, as these are things to cloud the mind and inhibit the way to enlightenment.

Straightedge Worldwide
Even the tasty animals?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
I am vegetarian also haha I was vegan for 7 years. Bambi is safe from me.

Straightedge Worldwide
For now…

Those hunters that got his mom will be back eventually.

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
If the Rambo in me decides to come out and murder everything in sight…

Straightedge Worldwide
Ok, so what’s the weirdest repair you ever had to do?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
I had to repair this beat 13 string sitar harp guitar! The normal guitar had sitar-style bridge and the harp strings did also. I had to re-glue the top and back make new bridges, put in a new brace and cut a huge hole in the back.

It was a giant pain in the [ass].

Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

When 7 strings just aren’t enough…

Straightedge Worldwide
I have no idea what most of that even means.

Was hoping you’d just say someone broke their guitar having sex.

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
I have had that also… not gonna lie.

Straightedge Worldwide
Amazing!

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Broken Gibson headstock… yup.

Straightedge Worldwide
Ouch!

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
His other head was just fine.

Straightedge Worldwide
Ok, so if edge kids want you to build them a guitar, do you only do local orders?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
I do orders all over the world. If you want anything from a parts build to full-on custom, I can help you out.

I have a few of my works out there in hxc scene also.

Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

Chris does indeed do international orders

Straightedge Worldwide
And how pricey are you compared to going to the local guitar store?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Well custom guitars are always more I do everything by hand! A good parts build will run say $1,000 pending parts and stuff and a full-on custom around $2,000.

If you want a good beater getfiddle you might want to stick to that LTD or Epiphone for $600.

Straightedge Worldwide
That’s comparable, and with you they’d be supporting the straight edge scene. Who do you have repping your setups out there right now?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Well I built a custom “metal telecaster” for Pieter of This I Hell; I’ve done work for The Acacia Strain, Comeback Kid, The Chariot, The Classic Struggle, If Hope Dies. I did A Day To Remember a few years back.

I am a touring guitar tech also.

Straightedge Worldwide
Pretty rad. Who are you teching for?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
This Is Hell on the last Underoath tour.

Rick the main guitarist is also edge haha.

Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

Chris used to tech for This Is Hell

Straightedge Worldwide
If they want to talk to you, will kids be able to find you on the next This Is Hell tour?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Unfortunately not; I do work for them here and there but hopefully soon I can! If any other band wants to hire me, tell me; I’m available. I’m cheap and run on burritos.

Straightedge Worldwide
We hear a burrito-powered guitar tech is the next advance in clean technologies…

Before we let you go, any big projects coming up or words of advice? For edge kids that want to do what you’re doing some day?

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Big projects for me are a 10 string baritone guitar with fanned frets and a custom Tele!

For edge kids check out [StewMac.com] for books and tools; it takes time and a lot of know-how and skills – just practice and don’t be afraid to ask people like me for advice.

Chris Rodriquez, xBLCx Custom Guitars

Do what you love; Love what you do

Straightedge Worldwide
That’s really rad of you Chris. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us tonight

Chris Wartortle Rodriguez
Thank you guys for being awesome!

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