Update from a long-time AND new customer

I made Mel a guitar 20 years ago, and here he is buying this lovely…. And seeming to appreciate it, even though it is slightly used. Before sending it off, I touched up the finish, and made and attached an arm-rest which is similar to one Mel said he liked. The back and side wood is Movingui, ribbon grain.

Mel has been playing mostly steel string acoustic guitar, but now he’s going for classical. He wrote me about the guitar experience, and gave permission to publish the pictures and the note.

On 1/20/2024 8:49 PM, Mel Hughes wrote:

It’s been almost a full month now and I wanted to send you a note of thanks for this beautiful guitar.  Everyday since BlackLeaf arrived, I’ve been playing her.  Everyday I play, I learn a little something more about how to coax the sounds I want to hear out of her.  Starting over is quite a journey.  It would be so easy to just sit and noodle but the guitar deserves much better than noodling.  So we’re working on basics – hand positions, finger flexibility and independence, tone production as well as revisiting rhythm studies, sight reading, all those things I’ve avoided so well for so many years.  
When I went back to college after the army, I studied music for three years.  It was almost all revelation to me.  Growing up in Alabama, I had little or no exposure to classical music.  I didn’t know what a cello was, seriously.  But  I remember finding recordings of Pablo Casals in the school library and being thunderstruck by the music and the man.  And still today I keep thinking of this quote from him.  “ In 1957 at the age of 80 Casals was the subject of a movie short, A Day in the Life of Pablo Casals. The movie’s director Robert Snyder asked Casals, “why he continues to practice four and five hours a day.” Casals answered: “Because I think I am making progress.”
I am making progress.  Some days it is infinitesimal.  But it is movement and it is reinvigorating.  The Tarrega and Schubert pieces I keep hearing in my head are a ways off.  But this guitar is more than capable of making that music beautifully. 
So mostly, I warm up and practice my studies, then play some things I know that aren’t classical guitar repertoire.   But almost every time I play, at some point I find some detail or part of the guitar that I haven’t really given my full attention.  The other night, I was struck by the intricate binding around the guitar edges and is doubled around the rosette.  Some folks drool over herringbone patterns.  But I tell you, Steve Ganz, it’s only because they haven’t seen this!  And that only scratches the surface.  I’m going to shoot more photos when the weather warms up a bit and we’re done with snow.  She really is beautiful not just sonically but visually.  I take her to work with me so I can practice during slow periods. 

Mel Hughes
Sparta, TN

About steve

Luthier in the northwest of the Northwest. Classical guitars, custom instruments, repairs and restorations.
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