February 19, 2008

Birth of the Dreadnought

John "Woody" Woodland is a guitarist, producer, luthier, guitar tech to the stars, and all around vintage guitar aficionado.

Anyone here in the Twin Cities guitar community knows Woody as the in-house repairman at Willie's American Guitars, a fine shop specializing in vintage American guitars, and tube amplifiers of the vintage and boutique variety.

I've had a number of conversations with Woody over the years, and he has always displayed a special fondness for (and expert knowledge of) all things Martin - particularly the older and more esoteric guitars.

Back in December, he worked with Dick Boak, Martin's manager of artist relations, to help set up a unique event at Lehigh University's Zoeliner Arts Center. Pat Donahue was in town with Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, and played a number of vintage guitars built and owned by Martin Guitar during the two shows.

Getting to the point...

Woodland, along with Peter Kohman and Richard Johnston, is behind the new book Birth of the Dreadnought, an exhaustive history that explores the origins of Martin's most famous contribution to American luthiery.

From Woodland's book blog:

The book is a never-before seen, in-depth look into the archives of the C.F. Martin Guitar Company, the most complete and detailed archives of any American musical instrument maker. The book’s authors, John Woodland, Peter Kohman and Richard Johnston, have done extensive research combing through the attics of the old Martin factory, researching thousands of pages of stored correspondence, most of it unseen since it was originally filed. The book also includes a large collection of unpublished photographs, elegantly illustrating the guitar’s journey. The enveloping music scenes throughout the country during the Dreadnought’s development are also well documented. Many different archival and personal sources have been consulted, and the story told includes voluminous details that have not previously been researched or compiled, let alone published. The result is a comprehensive and compelling new understanding of the instrument made famous by the C.F. Martin Company, as well as an entertaining look into the lives of the people responsible for its design.

To read more about the project, and to see some excellent photo's and scans of primary source material, visit: http://northstreetattic.blogspot.com/

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