Chris Alvarado built his first guitar as a challenge to himself. Now his Driftwood Guitar business is becoming more and more popular.

Chris Alvarado grew up in the Destin music scene and has been playing guitar for 23 years. But when he is not playing gigs up and down 30A, there is a good possibility he can be found in his garage building guitars. He is a luthier.

Alvarado has been building guitars for 10 years.

"I've always been a maker of things," he told The Sun.

The son of a musician -- his dad is Al Alvarado of Jones & Co. -- Alvarado has been around music and musical instruments all of his life, but it was not until he was serving in the military that he came across a couple of guys who had made an electric guitar, and thought, "I can do that."

He wanted to build an acoustic guitar, however.

At first, the building of his own instrument was for his own pleasure, but by 2011, people were asking him to build guitars for them.

Alvarado takes about four months to build a guitar and builds two to four at a time.

The type of wood used depends on what his client wants. All are commissioned pieces.

"I choose from tone woods," he said. "I guide the customer in their choice of wood by their playing style and that dictates the budget. Some woods are incredibly expensive. Exotic woods are better sounding but expensive. I use spruce, rosewood, whatever the wood and music needs to be."

He builds 12-15 guitars a year and he has a two-year waiting list.

Right now, Alvarado provides for his family from his music gigs, but he believes that down the road, the guitars will be the more lucrative.

Although he started out playing Destin, these days he is exclusively on 30A.

"There is more acceptance on 30A of letting the artist be an artist," he said. "I can play music I want to play. I play music you can dance to and I get hired for a lot of private parties and weddings. 30A is a separate entity from Destin and a unique place."

Alvarado is a regular at Chiringo every Tuesday from 6-9 p.m. and at the Perfect Pig at Gulf Place on Fridays.

Visit his website at