The Minority Guitar

Umberto, the latest member of the Ham Jones Guitar Family is finally ready to go on the wall for your purchasing pleasure.  It’s been a while, ugh!, almost five months since I posted a story. There are several reasons for the delay, but mostly I just couldn’t do it without venting on the political situation and I needed to let those thoughts gel.   This new fella, Umberto is representative of those thoughts, and his struggle to make it through a difficult time.

The name is actually a form of the English ‘Humbert’ .. Bearer… . In this case Hispanic use.  I chose the name because of the reddish-brown hue, (Umber), of the Mahogany binding against the Rosewood.

I started this guitar in the fall of 2016 when there was hope for all immigrants in this country to prosper.  By the time he was nearly completed, there was fear that there would be no immigrants.  During the process of building I came across a flaw in the Rosewood on the back.  This was a minor item and one that is not uncommon working with natural material.  I mended the area as per usual and moved along.   Moving along is making progress, throwing in the towel and sending this guitar, which represents so much hard work, back to the woodpile would be making regress.  As with any project the finished product will reflect the amount of effort put into it.  Like the finish on a fine piece of wood.

My first attempt at fixing the flaw had failed, a fact I could not know until final buffing.  The result of my initial repair was that it showed in the finish due to bending the light, ie. the surface was smooth and glossy but at the proper angle looked scratched. So, Umberto, ready to play and be played, to live as it were and be free, yet this one minor difference was posing a problem.

Guitars, like humans are ‘no two exactly alike’, not even from the best or worst factories and certainly not from a scratch builder such as myself.  That’s a good thing.  It’s like the story of the Ugly Duckling, different does not mean less than.   This guitar, Umberto is no exception. I carefully sanded the area back to bare wood and repaired the spot once more.  If at first…. you know.   What has emerged is a representation of hard work and co-operation.  If I had simply said, “This one’s different, send him back”, there would be no Umberto the Guitar.  Finally, I’m sure you’ve heard Duane and Dicky playing dual guitars, or Mark O’Conner, Vassar Clements and others playing twin fiddles, imagine millions of Umbertos playing at once, all similar yet all different.

Happy Cinco de mayo!

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Author: Rick

A life long woodworker, I've been building guitars since 2006 after attending a guitar building course presented by Martin guitars. I build acoustic dreadnoughts, electrics, and the "Hambone", a Terz guitar. I am a North Carolina native and am currently located near Charlotte, NC.

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