Guitars are living things. And, like humans, each one is unique with an appearance, voice and personality all its own. One only needs to spend a little time in any guitar shop observing how people are drawn to particular instruments to begin to understand this. They look, touch, fondle, and play the guitars that “speak” to them. The alluring siren call that unites guitar and player is magical, romantic even.
I, particularly as a builder, understand this. Every material, decision, choice, glue joint, or sanding stroke that goes into the process helps bring that guitar from the moment of conception, through the embryonic stage, and into birth. There is a point in this creative venture when the guitar on my workbench begins to dialogue with me, making the final result a cooperative, collaborative endeavor. When it’s all said and done that guitar has a unique voice. It has soul. And it starts down the road of its musical life developing mojo.
All of this was particularly brought home to me recently when I attended another session at the Nazareth Guitar Institute (americanarchtop.com), building an archtop guitar under the tutelage of Dale and Tyler Unger. Five students began the eight day session with the exact same materials. We did the same things together every day, paying attention to the same instructions and examples. Yet, when we strung those five guitars up on the final day and began to play them, guess what? Each one sounded different from the others. Some sweet, some throaty, and some deep, but each one its own. How does that happen? It’s the creative force of the universe, and I bow before it.
Most of the guitars I build will mature, move on, and end up in other’s hands, Their voices will meld with the voices of their players, creating music that brings enjoyment and satisfaction to many. I may never hear it but I will always resonate with their living vibrations.