The Spanish luthier Valeriano Bernal was born in 1939 in a small village in the province of Cadiz in Andalucia. When he was only eight, Valeriano began learning the rudiments of woodworking from his cousin, Francisco Ramirez Leo. After a stint in the Spanish navy, he set up a small workshop near Brussels in 1962. While in Belgium he worked closely with two acoustical engineers on the designs of tops. Returning to Spain in 1976, Valeriano eventually returned to his village and set up his own workshop. Working with his wife, Catalina Gil, and their two children -- Rafael Bernal Gil (b. 1973) and Paula Bernal Gil (b. 1976) -- the Bernal family produces 125-150 guitars a year. Although the Bernal workshop is larger than most individual guitar makers, each guitar is entirely handmade.
Valeriano's flamenco guitars have that edge that flamenco guitarists love, and an endearing deep, dark tonality characteristic of flamenco guitars from Andalucia, and so are particularly sought after by professionals. He has sold guitars to Paco Cepero, Manolo SanLúcar, Victor Monge (Serranito), Parrilla, Carbonero. Great flamenco players such as Sabicas and Paco de Lucia have also used his guitars in their recordings. Bernal's stature is such that Luis F. Leal Pinar devotes an entire chapter in "Guitarreros de Andalucia" (2004) to him.