Grandma"s Guitar: A non-Redneck story
If you've ever been by Redneck Headquarters, you know it's a humble work space along a quiet residential street. In fact, the word "headquarters" is used tongue-in-cheek. Fortunately, It's not about the space, but about the magic that happens in the space.
In early Spring 2020, a neighbor happened by and got talking with John. Once he found out John was a luthier, he came back with a project: his grandmother's guitar.
His grandmother, a lady by the name of Fannie Litton, grew up in the mountains of Virginia. As the crow flies, she was about 5 miles from the stomping grounds of the Carter Family and lived during their time. Fannie had a parlor guitar (a generic name given to smaller-bodied guitars usually played in the parlor of the home for entertainment) that she played extensively in church and for passing Revival guests.
Fannie died in 1943, and her daughter took over the old homeplace. When the daughter died in 1997, her two nephews (grandchildren of Fannie) divvied up the contents of the house - including the old guitar.
John's neighbor was not the nephew to originally take the guitar, but he recently acquired it from his brother. Age, wear, and neglect had taken a toll, and he brought it to John for restoration.
The guitar's exact age and manufacture are unknown, but based on ancillary evidence, it appears to be a basic catalog model guitar perhaps made by Washburn. The body is oak with a spruce top, and best guesses are that it dates to the mid 1890's.
After a few weeks in the shop, the guitar was ready for action, and a "reveal" gathering was arranged for the family. As it turns out, Fannie's grandson, Paul Jr., had big plans for the guitar. He brought his son, Paul III and Paul's daughter Olivia to the shop for the reveal and immediately passed it along to Paul III. Paul III, a beginning player, and Olivia have started lesson with Olivia using her great-great-grandmother's guitar.
Of course guitars can't literally talk, but that old parlor guitar carries with it stories, sweat, and echoes of songs from long ago. Olivia will never know her great-great-grandmother directly, but the guitar is a heirloom that will forever give them a familial bond. It gives us great pride to have played a part in keeping it alive and well for another generation.