Santos Hernández was born in Madrid in 1873. When he was ten he began an apprenticeship making vestments and ornaments in a shop that made religious paraphernalia. Unhappy with this vocation, he apprenticed to Valentin Viudes, the son. After a short time, he left Viudes shop and went to work for José Ortega in Granada. But, he soon returned to Madrid and worked for Saturnino Rojas and in the prestigious shop of Francisco Gonzalez, then being run by the son. In 1893, Santos was drafted and was assigned to a artillery unit during the five years of his military service. He was sent to Cuba to fight during the Spanish-American war. On leaving the army in 1898, he seems to have set up his own workshop on the Calle Nicolas Salmerón. About 1905 he was hired by Manuel Ramirez as his foreman to replace Enrique Garcia, who had moved to Barcelona. Santos seems to have been the luthier who was most involved in building the guitar Manuel Ramirez gave Andrés Segovia in 1912. When Manuel Ramirez died in 1916, Santos continued working for his widow until 1920. In 1921, Santos opened his own shop in an alley, La Aduana, in the center of Madrid, building both classical and flamenco guitars. Santos was secretive about his arts, and refused to taken on disciples. Santos Hernández guitars were played by such notable classical guitarists as Luis Sánchez Granada, Regino Sainz de la Maza, Quintin Esquembre, and such flamenco players as Ramon Montoya, Niño Ricardo, Sabicas, Esteban de Sanlúcar, Manolo de Huelva, Manolo de Badajoz etc. After his death in 1943, his widow continued to run his shop, employing Marcelo Barbero to make guitars.