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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

String Theory
Tim Miklaucic, Muir ’82

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For Tim Miklaucic, music has always been a non-negotiable part of life. After struggling as an L.A. screenwriter, he was encouraged by a neighbor to sell guitars, a hobby he had started as a student at UC San Diego. In 1983, he founded Guitar Salon, a retail shop specializing in fine classical and flamenco guitars. Within 12 years, the company became a major retailer, selling many styles of Spanish guitars.

In 1997, he launched a distribution arm, Córdoba Guitars, which has since emerged as a leading brand of nylon string guitars. Every year, Córdoba produces 100,000 handmade instruments in factories located in Spain and China. Last year, the wholesale division split off from the retail division to become Córdoba Music Group.

Having Santa Monica-based offices with a relatively young staff, as well as skilled designers and craftsmen, has allowed the company to both target emerging musicians, while reaching a larger global audience. Córdoba counts an eclectic range of artists and bands among its top fans—from Leonard Cohen and The Gipsy Kings, to Bon Iver and The Decemberists. “We’re not trying to reach every pop artist out there,” Miklaucic says, noting that indie musicians are drawn to Córdoba for two reasons: the high quality of the instruments as well as the brand association of Córdoba in its ability to identify with a very specific community.

It was one class at UCSD with Celin Romero, professor and famed classical guitarist, that gave Miklaucic a chance to play some of the best guitars in the world. Ultimately, this experience gave him a competitive advantage, allowing him to become a guitar dealer of rare instruments as well as inspiring him to design and sell guitars.

With a gross revenue reaching over $12 million and a staff of 30 in the United States alone, Miklaucic realizes there’s still room to grow. “I want [Córdoba] to reach its potential, whatever that is,” he shares, noting that in order to connect with a larger audience, he needs to build a team good enough to accomplish that. Though, at the end of the day, the mission is still simple: “The benefit of Córdoba is that with every sale, the customer is playing music to share with friends and family, bringing joy into the world. This makes the job satisfying and worthwhile.”

—Alex Morales