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Matty: The Merchant of Greenwich

Matty: The Merchant of Greenwich

from his 1979 GAL Convention lecture

by Matt Umanov

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Quarterly, Volume 7 #3, 1979

I’d like to say that I’ve never given a lecture in my life; the last time I stood in front of a blackboard I had to write my name a hundred times. Perhaps a little self-introduction could explain to you some of my qualifications for being here. I have a store in Greenwich Village, where we sell, buy, trade, and repair quality acoustical instruments. I have had the store for 10 years, before which I worked sort of free-lance doing repair work on my own. And before that I struggled through a couple of different guitar factories.

People today generally prefer a Martin Dreadnought, usually a rosewood one for a bluegrass band. Rosewood is chosen over mahogany because of the richness of the tone; you get a much fatter bass out of a rosewood body guitar than you will out of a mahogany guitar. It is usually easier to record a mahogany guitar in the studio. Engineers tell me this all the time. All the extra overtones of the rosewood guitar are just too complex — it’s difficult to capture.

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