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Roy Smeck: Wizard of the Strings

Roy Smeck: Wizard of the Strings

by James Garber

previously published in American Lutherie #11, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000

Roy Smeck is one of the treasures of American popular music. For nearly seventy years now he has entertained millions with his virtuosity on fretted instruments and his warm sense of humor. He has also been mentor, teacher, and friend to dozens of fretted instrument enthusiasts, and has been the inspiration for countless others through his numerous instruction books.

Roy was born on February 6, 1900 in Reading, Pennsylvania. His musical development closely parallels that of the dawning 20th-century American popular culture. The birth and adolescence of the recording industry, radio, film, television, and the golden era of American instrument making all occurred during his rise to stardom. In the vaudeville circuit he made his name solely as an instrumentalist. He also achieved prominence as a recording artist under his own name and as a backup studio musician for a number of other well-known stars in the early days of recording.

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