In 1987, Ramon “RJ” Jacinto had recently returned from exile spanning 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 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.
Then 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 Discipulo set up shop and started building world-class RJ Guitars.
Still, RJ Guitars did little business until RJ began displaying RJ Guitars alongside the best Fenders and Gibsons. His big idea was not just for guitarists to find their expensive dream guitars at the RJ Guitar Center, but to buy RJ Guitars that looked and sounded just as good.
The Guitar Center moved from Mandaluyong to Scout Bayoran, Quezon City to Robinson's Galleria Mall, where it began flourishing.
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.
Today, there are 23 RJ Guitar Center branches and over 100 distributors of RJ Guitars across the Philippines and around the world. For those who value the quality of fine Filipino craftsmanship, RJ Guitars are the obvious choice.