If something stopped you from being able to do what you love, would you lay it all to rest, or would you take matters into your own hands, and invent a new solution yourself? Noel Rosa, founder of New Sound Acoustics, bravely chose the latter.
Music has been a part of Noel’s life for more than 30 years. Born in the projects of north New Jersey, Noel has been playing in front of crowds for as long as he can remember. Getting his start as a drummer in the local church band when he was younger, Noel grew comfortable playing in front of others—friends and strangers alike. Through confidence and determination, he and his band landed a record deal with CBS Records shortly after high school, which propelled him forward in his music journey. Though, it hasn’t come without its challenges.
Following a car crash in the 1990s, Noel’s ability to play the drums became challenged. After two years of physical therapy and speech therapy, he returned to music. Shortly after his return, a new friend pushed Noel to pick up guitar. Once Noel did, his newfound talent took off running. After winning various guitar playing competitions, it was as if Noel had been playing guitar his entire life. Watching him play now in his mid-50s, his skill remains evident.
“Four years after picking up the guitar, I entered a competition and got ranked second in the state of Florida,” shares Noel. “From there I started entering more competitions, and I grew into being more of a singer-songwriter. I soon got picked up by Takamine Guitars, and it wasn’t long before Martin Guitars came knocking. So I respectfully turned down my endorsement with Takamine and went with Martin. And then now I’m, of course, touring with my own guitars.”
In 2009, Noel experienced an injury to his spine while on stage. Once again, Noel’s ability to do what he loved was in jeopardy. After trying to push through for a bit, he quickly realized that in order to keep going and doing what he loved, he would need to innovate something new. Noel needed a lighter guitar—one that didn’t weigh 9 pounds. He needed one that would be less stress on his back, and allow him to play on stage without being in chronic pain.
After realizing such a guitar just didn’t exist––at least not to his standards––New Sound Acoustics was born. When faced with the tough decision to stop playing or pivot, Noel channeled that bold spirit from his youth, and he chose to invent something entirely new.
It was something he knew he needed, but he never expected so many others to need or want it as well.
“I definitely knew I had something,” said Noel. “I had the beginnings of an idea. So while I was on tour––I think I was in Wyoming––I sat down in the hotel room at the end of the day, and I made a list of everything that I hated about guitars.”
Jumping into his new venture, Noel approached his friend Ken Bailey, a Plant City guitar shop owner at the time, with his needs.
“Ken is a wonderful man. I told him I don’t want to learn how to build a traditional guitar. I just want to learn how to build my guitar. And we jumped right in.”
Deciding the first test for his new design would be at the Orlando Guitar Expo, Noel and Ken built five guitars to showcase to the local guitar playing community.
However, before arriving at their first expo, they sold all five guitars. Noel quickly called Ken in a panic to ask for his help creating more. So they created another five, and in short order they sold out again. “Then I went to a second guitar show. Where I won an award for best new innovative product,” explains Noel. “From there I just kept selling out at guitar shows.”
Crafted with intentionality, Noel’s guitars are set apart from others in the industry, weighing just 3 pounds, with zero feedback on stage. A guitar from New Sound Acoustics—which start at $2,200—provides a quality product combined with the ease of comfortability to help avoid back or shoulder pain.
Noel’s guitars also feature a tuner and auxiliary port for headphone usage. Additionally, the sound hole is in the rear, laser cut through the wood, keeping the continuity of the grain and of the wood as it flows through the build of the guitar.
Another innovative way New Sound Acoustics sets itself apart from other guitar makers is by collaborating with Viable Lumber, based in the St. Pete/Tampa area.
“Instead of going out and ordering these trees from South America or wherever they‘re cutting rain forests down, these are trees that have already fallen or are getting knocked down here locally,” Noel expresses. “It‘s a piece of Florida in every guitar. I think that‘s cool.”
It’s no secret that since the invention of the guitar, there have been countless redesigns and configurations throughout the years. There have been guitars designed with the intention of being lighter before Noel came along, and more will try after him. But Noel wasn’t here to reinvent the wheel. Of course—nothing‘s new under the sun. He just aimed to make the wheel better. If you’re lucky enough to pick up one of his guitars for yourself, you’ll see that he has.