Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday Reading

A Journey Shaped by a Guitar

EVEN though Nazareth, Pa., isn’t quite the holy city its namesake is, pilgrims with a musical bent still go there every weekday in search of a potentially spiritual experience. They head to a quaint brick building, lured by the promise of taking a tour at the C. F. Martin & Company guitar factory.

More than 200 guitars are made at Martin each day, many more than when the company first opened in New York City in 1833 (it moved to Nazareth in 1839). But for any guitar player or music lover, getting to see the basic stages in the creation of a Martin moves them powerfully, putting some in touch with emotions they might have thought too inaccessible to be reached.

Martins are arguably the most coveted acoustic guitar on earth — satisfied customers include Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Freedy Johnston — and wherever pickers and grinners gather to resurrect time-honored chestnuts, from “Helpless” to “Sugarfoot Rag,” there’s a good chance that there will be a Martin chiming in. A trip to the factory could almost be considered a journey to the Lourdes of twang.

Given Martin’s humble origins, today’s factory is surprisingly large and modern, built in 1964. The barn-red Martin building replicates the facade of the first Nazareth factory, but from the outside it looks to be playing host-victim to an industrial plant large enough to churn out cars and trucks.

Inside, the Plek fret-dressing machine hums, lathes turn and sanders buzz as instruments are made in large numbers (81,000 last year). Plus, there’s a spanking clean lobby, a gift shop, a guitar museum and a sparkling white bathroom that pipes in, fittingly enough, a bluegrass radio station.

The tour itself also makes use of modern headsets, so you can hear the guide’s narrative above the impressive whine of guitars being birthed. But once the pilgrims make their way and start seeing guitars in various stages of completion, that holy look creeps back into their eyes. Sometimes, mixed with tears.

That was the case last October with Beverly Goskowski, from nearby Hellertown, whose horn-rims showed a studious side, but whose leather jacket whispered, “rebel.” Ms. Goskowski really did think of her trip to Nazareth and Martin as something, well, related to the soul.

“I came here seven years ago with my granddad,” she said. “He passed over the summer, and I guess I’m trying to recapture the fun we had when we first came. Or to say goodbye to him. I don’t know which, really.”

Ms. Goskowski said all this in a strangely amplified voice mangled by the headset. She wept a bit, removed her glasses, wiped her eyes and chuckled at the tender moment being distorted by a modern contraption.

“Granddad, whose name was George H. Giltenboth, didn’t play an instrument or anything, but he loved music,” she said. “When we went on the tour, he kept grabbing the tour guide’s arm, asking her to repeat certain facts, always calling her ‘honey,’ or ‘dear.’ He loved being here.”



A little something to take our minds off the political scene and the other stuff clogging our veins of late.

I truly respect anyone that can play one of these instruments with any degree of skill, I am not one of those but my admiration continues. We all have our favorite guitarists and the Martin guitar is a favorite of many of them. Still being handmade after all these years, they are a true American tradition that has been unequaled.



David B. Benson said...


Play nice now...

Hajji said...

Clapton's Guitar, by Allen St. John

How do you make a guitar? "Well you get a pile of really nice wood and a sharp whittling knife," I heard Wayne tell one of the fiddlers backstage. "Then you just carve away everything that isn't a guitar" Allen St. John, Clapton's Guitar Simon & Schuster Inc. 2005 p.6

"It's lovely," he said. "I've never heard anything about this guy before" With those words Eric Clapton set in motion the events described in Allen St. John's new book Clapton's Guitar. From the time one of the world's most famous pop guitar players uttered those words until ten years later when the author delivered a completed guitar to a London Hotel, Mr. St. John provides us a window into the world of the art of the acoustic guitar.




(Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to own a Martin. I've heard litterally hundreds, if not thousands of them and no other mass-produced accoustic guitar comes close to the consistant purity of a Martin)

While CF Martin & Co. are certainly a premire instrument maker, their Ford-esque assembly-line mass production make guys like Wayne Henderson look like Enzo Ferrari.

I heard an interview with Wayne Henderson on NPR just last week.

He's a old-school luthier and a very humble guy who only makes a few guitars (and the occasional mando, etc) each year.

In his Rugby, VA shop he recycles rare woods from desks, buildings and such to combine with the local spruce and other woods to create some of the finest guitars ever made.

I haven't yet, but I will pick up a copy of this book.

Turns out, he's quite the picker himself. I can't remember the NPR show he was on, but I'll try to look it up, maybe it can still be heard on the web.


DEN said...

Squabbling starts wars.

I always figure it is OK to have a bit of discourse now and then to keep things human, however, forgiveness and agreeing to disagree works better when disagreements get severe.

Life is way too short.

DEN said...

Wayne Henderson

DEN said...

Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition

Hajji said...

...Life is way too short.

It sure seems to be taking a Loooong Time, so far!

Sorry, but I've never been a morning person.

Waking up to being sworn at reminds me too much of my decades-long 3-year marriage.

I'll slide a nice card under the door or something.



Hajji said...


Dial-up makes streaming video impossible.

Maybe some day I'll get dragged, kicking and screaming, into 1990's technology!

tytandanmar said...

Yes, the Martin guitar is quite a sound to behold. I had a friend in high school that inherited his grandfathers Martin D-18. He begged me to teach him how to play it. Although I was not a great player to begin with, I taught him enough chords to play some songs. I also got to play that D-18. He never really learned to play and after almost 30 years, I hope that guitar ended up in the hands of someone who actually got to enjoy it. Martin guitars have great sound but Gibson makes a great acoustic guitar as well.

Hajji said...

Clinton: Obama untested, just like Bush was.

CINCINNATI — Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton lashed out at rival Barack Obama today for using a strategy out of “Karl Rove’s playbook” by making grandiose speeches of hope while sending Ohioans what she called “false and discredited mailings” on health care and trade policy.

“Shame on you Barack Obama,” Clinton told reporters after delivering a speech at Cincinnati Technical and Community College in which she reminded voters that in 2000, an untested George W. Bush called for change--just as Obama is now--and “the American people got shafted.”

Obama's campaign quickly responded, noting that Clinton's top spokesman, Howard Wolfson, once called one Democrat comparing another Democrat to George Bush as "the worst kind of tactical political maneuvering."

More (IF you can stomach it...)

Pot, I'd like you to meet Kettle...


Hajji said...

...but gee...them GIT-tars shore are purty!

Alan said...

Around here, Dems are turning out to vote at sometimes 3 to 1 ratios, compared to the repugs. Unprecedented numbers and all that... I sure hope it portends a big turnaround like what happened in the Dallas area. They WERE mostly repugs in elected office, like we still are. They're mostly Dems now, and maybe so will we. Biggest city in the biggest RED state... turning out in droves for the Dems. YAY!

Democratic race attracts early voters in record numbers

Turnout of early ballots has already exceeded entire voting turnout in 2004 primary

Harris County residents have cast a record number of early ballots this week, propelled largely by a fiercely competitive Democratic presidential contest, elections and political observers say.

After just four days of early voting, which began Tuesday and ends Feb. 29, the number of in-person votes has surpassed the total cast in early voting in the 2004 presidential primary.

As of the end of voting Friday, 50,997 voters — 38,214 Democrats and 12,783 Republicans — had been to the polls. A total of 35,381 voters cast ballots in person during the entire 2004 early voting period.

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, who can track electronic voting in real time, said she was surprised to see the first-day turnout was nearly three times that of the 2004 primary.

"I've never seen anything like it. I really haven't," she said. "When I looked at 10:30 a.m., and we've already voted 3,000 people, I said, 'Holy cow. We're going to have some turnout.' "
hit the link to read the rest

DEN said...

Alan, all the sheeple are pissed and wanting out from under the chimps reign of terror, me too.

Voter turnout has been high everywhere.

Won't rest easy until January tho, too many crazy azz people with guns and bombs, including the chimp.

tytandanmar said...

Granted the Democrat turnout in the primaries have been exceptional. That is primarily because they have someone exciting enough to vote for. I'm even following the Democrat primary for the excitement. The Republican candidate/s were pretty ho-hum except for Paul and he never really took off.

That could change dramatically for the Republicans in the general election depending on who the Democrat candidate is. If it is Hillary, look for record Republican voter turnout. They missed their first chance in '96, they will not let it happen again.

David B. Benson said...

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

Now why would I post that old saw?

DEN said...

Doc, is this a pop quiz? cause I didn't study.

David B. Benson said...

Den --- You'll just have to sweat it for awhile. I wnat to give others the chance to win...

Hajji said...

...Now why would I post that old saw?

Gee, Dr. Benson,

Mitre I propose you're framing the level -headed idea that the blueprint of driving out record voters to the poles woodent necessawerly mean they'd pull the lever in the direction hewed think?

Hajji said...

or was your equine statement completely unrelated to the comments above?

tytandanmar said...

1992 all over again?

If Obama is the candidate for the Democrats, he will be considered much like Bill Clinton was in 1992. Primarily an unknown entity. The Republicans will have a candidate who is clearly at odds with the conservative base of his party, much like Bush 41 was. Enter one Ross Perot who garnered 19% of the vote, probably 15% of that from conservatives who abandoned Bush 41after breaking his "no new taxes" pledge. McCain is in major trouble if he thinks the conservative base will rally around him against Obama. Without a conservative 3rd party candidate in 2008, those 15 percent who voted for Perot in '92will likely stay home in 2008.

Will the Democrats allow Hillary to steal the nomination thus giving those 15% of conservatives a reason to get out and vote in '08. Should be interesting indeed.

David B. Benson said...

Hajji --- I'm a tough grader.

No hints, clues or cheat-sheets allowed.


Hajji said...


I'm relying on the extra credit points for being cute and punny...

Other than that, maybe I can clean some chalk-boards or sumpthin'?


Jeanne said...

I thought you'd appreciate this. My son has a friend with extreme religious views and are closet racists. Guess who they are voting for.
He He He. Obama. I love it.

Jeanne said...

Sorry, the friend's parents have extreme religious views.

David B. Benson said...


Is everybody else too chicken to attempt an answer?


kinky in texas ;-) said...

You can lead a politician to water, but you cannot make him think.

Hajji said...

Kinky's made an endorsement?

David B. Benson said...


Keep trying...


DEN said...

The place smells like a barnyard and is beginning to stink?

Horses and chickens and billygoat (hardhead)politicians.


DEN said...

Don't forget the two talking mules.

Hajji said...


We had to eat the milk cow...

Ann Richards has endorsed somebody from beyond the GRAVE?!


kinky was kidding earlier said...

You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make it drink.

Which means that you can only go so far to help someone/thing...ultimately it's up to YOU to take the necessary actions to make change.

Alan said...

Which means that you can only go so far to help someone/thing...ultimately it's up to YOU to take the necessary actions to make change.

Well, I hope that was it because I was afraid it was in reference to Ralph Nader wanting to join in the race... again. He bleeds off Dem votes, helping the repugs... and you can't make that fkr 'drink' either.

Alan said...

Any baseball fans here? In particular, or to be specific, anybody keeping up with the Roger Clemens/steroids, HGH scandal?
I prolly wouldn't be either if he wasn't from 'round here.

K, briefly... I dunno what the damn deal is with this party at Jose Conseco's house, but Clemens denies BIG TIME that he was there, and his accuser claiming he was. I don't think he's accused of actually doing some of the drugs at the party, so I wonder what the importance is. Anyways, before the congressional hearing, Clemens' attornies produced greens fees receipts from that day, proving Clemens wasn't at the party, but playing golf nearby. NOW, there's a neighbor kid with two pictures still on his wall of him and Clemens in the pool at the party at Conseco's house. The kid was 10 or 11 then, and it was a BIG DEAL he remembers quite well...hence the FRAMED pictures still on his wall. He's a collegiate baseball player himself now, and worries that this will affect his chances of hitting the big leagues, proving Clemens purjured himself, etc... i.e. the guy who brought down a baseball hero. Seems he was offended when a repugnican congressman called Clemens' accuser a liar, so he called the lawyers to set the record straight. Me thinks Clemens' goose is cooked. Fkn dick... he admitted his wife got HGH shots from his accuser to look good in some upcoming photo shoot, but he himself would never do such a thing. Isn't that special?

Hajji said...

I don't suppose one could waterboard a horse?!


Hajji said...

Clemons' legacy may be cooked, but I doubt he or his family will suffer.

Oh, he'll not get so many "Ryanesque" pain reliever promo gigs, but he'll do ok.

The thing is...nothing he did was against baseball's rules.

Ballplayers are notorius for breaking society's laws...few have ever been dragged to congress over it.

As ususal, it is the lying about it that got him in hot water. Don't ever lie in court or congress...they tend to take it personally.


Hajji said...


On MTP...

He also called out Obama on his change of stance on Israeli/Palestinian matters.

So is there any "There", there?


DEN said...