Woodgrain

July 15th, 2009

woodgrain.jpgMaster Luthier Carlo Greco’s dusty workshop sits two stories and two thousand miles above 48th Street through an unmarked, glass door, one flight up a rickety staircase from an accordion maker.

Carlo was the General Foreman of Guild Guitars from 1959-1977. A classical guitar builder from Italy by way of Argentina, he traveled to South American to select hard woods for Guild, and hand-built guitars for John Denver, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, and Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler.

Stepping into his shop is like stepping back in time. Four gentlemen in their seventies move slowly and patiently behind the counter, sanding, filing and carving to the the delicate strains of an accordian through a tiny single speaker.

Three times, now, Carlo Greco has repaired my battered Martin DXE15,: painstakingly steaming the top from the sides, patching, bonding and sanding the cracks, then bracing and regluing the seems. Three times, now, the guitar has been reborn in his steady, knowing hands.

There are tiny cracks and bruises, sure, but I like it that way; my guitar looks worn, used, and loved.

“How much you pay last time?” Carlo asks in a thick accent.

“I don’t remember,” I admit. “One hundred? One-fifty?”

Carlo scribbles detailed notes on my receipt:

Martin Acoustic
Fix Top Crack
Put Support Under
And Set Up
$100

I am effusive in my gratitude. He smiles, and sends me on my way.

“Go play, Benny. Go play!”