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Ed Arnold: String-Tie Kind of Guy

Ed Arnold: String-Tie Kind of Guy

by Nicholas Von Robison

Originally published in American Lutherie #7, 1986 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie, Volume One, 2000

Ed Arnold is a crew-cut and string-tie kind of guy. I met him while crewing aboard his son-in-law’s thirty-two foot sloop Iolaire on definitely not a crew- cut and string-tie kind of day. As a storm scudded down on us and I ejected my lunch off to leeward, I watched Ed go forward with the lithe grace of an athlete to hank on the storm jib on that bucking bronco of a foredeck.

Ed turned sixty-seven in June. He’s the kind of guy you can picture being at home on a rugged wilderness trail or negotiating a mountain pass on a donkey, and making it look easy. In his sixteen years as an exotic wood importer I’m sure he has ridden a few donkeys and walked a few dusty miles. A one-man operation, he went into Mexico and Central America, selected his trees, oversaw their handling and production, then shipped them home by container. He knows wood in a way that few luthiers ever will, our work beginning with the end result of Ed’s labors. I obtained some answers to things I have pondered over from time to time and even some I haven’t. Anybody know the Mexican name for mahogany? Zopilozontecomacuahitl.

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