Best of the Bronx: Salsa instrument maker Juan Carlos Rivera

For more than 40 years, Juan Carlos Rivera has been making drums, congos, timbales and cowbells inside his small workshop in Highbridge. Rivera, better known

For more than 40 years, Juan Carlos Rivera has been making drums, congos, timbales and cowbells inside his small workshop in Highbridge.

For more than 40 years, Juan Carlos Rivera has been making drums, congos, timbales and cowbells inside his small workshop in Highbridge. (11/19/13)

HIGHBRIDGE - For more than 40 years, Juan Carlos Rivera has been making drums, congos, timbales and cowbells inside his small workshop in Highbridge.

Rivera, better known in the neighborhood as “Cali,”opened JCR Percussion Instruments in the Bronx in 1970. The location, which is now his workshop for salsa instruments, was once an Irish pub.

He says his love for music and his skills were inherited from his dad who was a guitar maker.

Rivera and his small crew are especially known for making cowbells, which are shaped and bent into place. He also repairs instruments, all without the help of heavy machinery.

Many of the instruments that Rivera has made have been played by well-known salsa musicians, including Tito Puentes. He says he has no intentions of retiring as long as he can still share his work with the world.

His shop is located at 948 Ogden Ave.

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