I am a professor at Roosevelt University. I spent 42 years in journalism at small papers, at UPI and at the Chicago Tribune. Now I teach, write, perform, whatever is necessary to make me happy. One of those happy things happened on the way to work on the el in Chicago a few days ago.
My phone rang and at the other end was Bruce Roper, a luthier and musician with Sons of the Never Wrong, an esteemed group of long standing in Chicago.
|Randy Lee and|
of Bitter Melon
Bruce was the engineer and producer on the first album from Bitter Melon Music, "Cracks in the Foundation." It was great to work with him, which may be why his offer was so overwhelming for me. "I found a piece of sapele and I want you to go look at it with me because I'm going to build a guitar for you," he said. In exchange, I agreed to write this blog, and whatever else we decide on, about the building of a guitar from a block of wood.
That's what this blog will be about, the building of my guitar.
Let me be frank. I have lots of great guitars. I have a 1958 Martin D-28 in Brazilian rosewood, a 1963 Martin DS-28-12 in Brazilian rosewood, a Collings OM in East Indian Rosewood, and those are just the ones I have sitting in the house. I didn't need another guitar, at least that's what I thought. Bitter Melon Music's "Cracks in the Foundation," was a blast, but something of a bust. People in small gatherings liked it a lot, but the gatherings stayed very small and we never made money on it. I know that's not the point, but sometimes....well, you know.
We went on hiatus and I don't know if we will ever be back, but my interest in music remains. Having one of Bruce's guitars and telling this story might be a good pump primer for me.
Bruce's guitars are distinctive. I have never seen anything like them for simplicity and finesse when it comes to subtle decoration. I loved them. But I thought I didn't need another guitar, until now. I can't resist it. So look for the next posting, where we will show you what wood looks like before a guitar is cut out of it!