My Sister and my Prize Guitar
Posted by: Ed Foster Jr.
Two days after my sister’s soul took flight, I received an email advising me that I won the Grand Prize in the “Membership Brings Its Rewards Sweepstakes” sponsored by C. F. Martin & Co. At first, I thought it was a prank, but after speaking with Becky Manogue, Martin Owners Club Manager, I was convinced it was real. I won a guitar of my design handcrafted by the artisans at the Custom Shop at Martin & Co.
For the last six weeks of Kathy’s life, I’d tote my guitar to her room at the nursing home, maybe two to three times a week, to play for her. She enjoyed hearing me pick and strum, much as she did when we were young and lived at home. My youngest sister, Veronica, my guitar and I were with her for her final moment, so I wanted my prize guitar to be a tribute to her and my other departed sister, Susan.
I was introduced to the full sound, quality craftsmanship and beauty of Martin guitars a number of years ago by an acquaintance who collected and traded various brands of the instruments. Around 2015 I purchased a modestly priced Martin DCPA-R acoustic guitar. This model is one of Martin’s full-body size, referred to as a “Dreadnought,” and it is handmade with East Indian Rosewood on the back and sides and Sitka Spruce on the top. I really enjoyed the tonal quality of this instrument like no other I had owned until I received my prize guitar.
Between the time the paperwork was finalized in late 2019 and early 2020, when I began working with Scott Sasser, the Director of the Custom Shop, I read and studied as much as I could. I found a wealth of information in Martin’s quarterly publication, The Journal of Acoustic Guitars, about the tonal effect of guitar sizes and various woods used for top and body construction. I watched videos of Martin & Co. personnel hand crafting instruments at their shop in at Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The more I read, the more I learned how much I did not know.
Once Scott entered the picture, the design of my custom guitar moved smoothly. I shared my preference for Adirondack Spruce VTS for the top and Rosewood for the back and sides and my desire to memorialize my departed sisters. Because I already owned the large body style, Scott suggested a slightly smaller and more personal OM or Orchestra Model. With that as a starting point, the master designer said he had some really fine-looking Wild Grain Rosewood for the back and sides.
Martin’s Custom Shop designed a pick guard with two mother of pearl inlay silhouettes of sea gulls in flight to commemorate my departed sisters and tied that together with pearl body and rosette inlays. The pearl inlay work continues on the fret board with torch-theme fret markers and capped with an inlaid Martin & Co. logo at the head. The guitar body and head are bound with natural maple and the guitar is finished with high-gloss lacquer. Gold finish Waverly tuners with black pearl knobs are a discreet finishing touch.
This guitar is a beautiful sight to behold. It fits perfectly in my lap and plays oh, so smooth. The sound of the bass in mellow, mid-tones are rich and discreet, and the treble is clean and clear.
Thank you, C. F. Martin & Co.
Thank you, my little sister.