This guitar would be special. Fifty years of craft as a luthier led to this moment, to this instrument. I’d planned it for years, ever since my father first showed me how to string a neck, how to ridge a fret board, how to soak the side panels so they conform to the flow of the mould. I was nine years old and mesmerized.
I tried playing, but my ability clearly lay in building this most beautiful of instruments. Father gave me lessons on Saturday evenings, sat beside the fire in the kitchen. He would pluck and strum the strings, coaxing bold tunes, delicate airs and dutiful hymns from the wooden body.
“If you ever use those modern plectrum things, I will snap your fingers,” he said. I never did.
He built my first instrument and I decided right then to create the perfect piece for my own son. I had four daughters, each preferring The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to the classics and playing music themselves.
So I practiced for more years and saved this for my first grandson. It is the most wonderful instrument I have ever created. There is a pomegranate sunburst on the walnut body, a myriad of cut out stars around the sound hole, striated edging in black and gold travels every edge and joint.
My daughter calls it Baby Ben’s Banjo. One day, Benjamin will appreciate the love and dedication that went into building it just for him. I dream that he will cherish it, coaxing magic from it like my father did from his. That he will know I spent these years honing my skills to make this one exquisite item. And that he might, just sometimes, use a plectrum to play his mother’s favourite Beatles song, on Grandpa’s Glorious Gift.