Sexyloops - Master of the Archtop Jazz Guitar

Master of the Archtop Jazz Guitar

Master of the Archtop Jazz Guitar

Andy Dear | Thursday, 11 February 2021

“Bob Benedetto is the foremost builder of archtop guitars in the world. With tools that had belonged to his grandfather and tools that he made himself, he started making guitars entirely by hand (in 1968). He rose to become the standard bearer of a tradition of hand craftsmanship that threads its way back through the work of John D’Angelico, Orville Gibson, Lloyd Loar and even further to the centuries-old reverence for artistry and craft that is so much a part of the Italian and Italian-American heritage.”
--- TOM WHEELER

  My career in the fishing rod industry has brought some very unique and unexpected people into my life. Over the years I've had the privilege of building rods for several high-profile musicians, politicians, and tournament anglers. There are however a few that occupy a special place in my memory banks because their appearance in my life was completely unexpected....and some of them arent even fishermen.

  Many of you who read this will know my history and long term love affair with the guitar. Although I no longer play for a number of reasons, I think about it all the time...and sometimes even consider picking it up again. In the 1980's and 1990s though you'd be hard-pressed to find me without a six-stringed instrument in my hands. It was in fact such a constant and indelible part of my existence that it actually cost me a few romantic relationships. Although most if not all of those would have been ruined by my love of fishing if they hadn't of suffered the wrath of my guitar addiction.

  This was long before the age of the internet, so to get our fix of guitar related material we subscribed to magazines. Guitar Player, Guitar World & Guitar for the Practicing Musician were the more popular rags of the day, and I had at least decade long subscriptions to all of them. In fact, I still have all those issues packed away in a box and stored up in the attic! If I remember correctly, Guitar Player used to have a fold-out centerfold that featured high quality photographs of rare and exotic guitars. Pre-CBS Fenders, rare Vintage Gibsons, along with Gretch, Martin, and some of the more obscure custom made guitars were regular showpieces in the centerfold section. There was one low volume maker however that garnered as much, perhaps even more attention as the others; Robert Benedetto. Bendetto guitars are known as the pinnacle in handmade craftsmanship in the archtop jazz genre. Robert's guitars in my view were, and still are the epitome of exquisite handmade craftsmanship, traditional archtop architecture, and understated elegance. And, although I absolutely loved that style of playing, as well as that style of guitar, I also loved playing other styles as well, so I stuck with a more utilitarian tool that allowed me to go from country to jazz to death metal without switching instruments.

  Fast forward to 2015, when I started my specialty company, Axis Outdoors, which supplies high quality adhesives and coatings to various sporting goods industries including the fishing rod industry. One day in September of 2018 I received an email from...you guessed it, Robert Benedetto. He had recently retired and was looking for a specialized heat resistant epoxy for some woodworking planes he was now building for sale. when I told him that I was very familiar with, and was a long time admirer of his work, along with being a former musician, that sparked a VERY enjoyable email exchange about our past lives that lasted the better part of several weeks. That conversation got me to thinking about the striking similarities of construction, function, and use between a fine handmade cane rod and a handmade archtop jazz guitar. Or one step further the similarities between a modern fast action carbon fiber rod, and sleek, racey, modern electric guitar that is built to maximize a more agressive and acrobatic technique. It's an interesting exercise in "compare and contrast", where I personally find many more similarities than differences.

  All that "philosophizing" to say that I have had the privilege of meeting and befriending some very special and unique people because of my involvement in fishing and rod making, and Robert Benedtto would most certainly make the top 10 list.

Hope you are all staying safe and healthy,

Andy