Bob Wright has been a mainstay of the Bluegrass & Folk music scene in the New York Tri-state area for over 30 years, and has the chops to prove it. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2Xsw2Kpopo&w=420&h=315]
Check out his vast repertoire of songs at www.bojomusic.com
1) Can you remember the first guitar you owned? What was the make and model and how did you acquire it?
The first guitar I owned was a cheap little steel string thing that my parents got for me when I was about 9 years old. I took lessons with it for a year or so. When I returned from the Navy many years later I used it as a wall hanger; stripped it of anything that could be stripped off of it and spray painted the whole thing a midnight blue. It may have been a Silvertone, it was certainly very like the old cheap little Silvertone acoustics everybody seemed to get back then, but I don’t recall and it went missing after I got married and moved out of my parent’s home.
The guitar that I really learned to play on, and the first guitar I played out on, was an inexpensive nylon strung, classical style guitar, a Carmencita brand. I still have it and have had it since I was about 15 years old.
2) What are the qualities that matter to you when deciding on buying a guitar, and how has this changed over time?
As I got better, I wanted the guitar that my heroes played: I bought a new J-200 Gibson in 1970/-71 (still have it). I had pictures of Eric Andersen, Patrick Sky, Dave Van Ronk, Rev. Gary Davis, Danny Kalb, etc. all playing big bodied guitars like that, although I later realized some of them were Guild guitars. When I got into flatpicking is when I started looking towards D style guitars, which have tremendous punch and power. I like guitars that play easy, don’t crap out when you lean into them, are capable of fat round tones when you need them, and come with several hundred songs just waiting to be coaxed out of them.
3) How did you discover your present guitar, and how did it find its way home to you?
I have two guitars now
- a 1997 Colllings D2H, sunburst with a Sitka top and East Indian Rosewood sides that I ordered through Mandolin Brothers and got to see being built when I visited Collings in Austin, Texas that summer.
-a 2002 Henderson D-18 style guitar with a natural Appalachian top and Mahogany sides; that is a long story, some of which appears in the first chapter of the book Clapton’s Guitar by Allen St. John
4) What historical aspects, if any, have you unearthed about your present or past guitars?
Whatever history my guitars have they have had with me, as I have rarely bought a used or vintage instrument. Pretty much every guitar and banjo I currently own I bought without ever having played it as they were all ordered directly from either the factory or the luthier, specifically for me. Sure, there have been instruments that spoke to me when I played them and that I lusted after, but I really feel that a players touch is so unique and distinctive that the instrument... as long as it is a quality made piece... will sound like you no matter who made it. Sure, there are tonal characteristics that come from wood and tone ring selection, and strings, and picks, etc, which is why I have more than one of each instrument, but when I hear recordings of mine I’m hard pressed to definitively identify which banjo or guitar I used on the recording. I just hear that it is me.
5) What was the most recent song you composed on your guitar, and how did your present guitar tool lead you to discover the right music?
The last song I finished was The Fisherman’s Waltz, one of the rare songs that I actually wrote with guitar in hand. Most songs I write the lyrics first,without an instrument, and can usually pick up a guitar or banjo and play what I have heard in my head right off. I had the Collings in drop D tuning, eventually capoed at the third fret, and noodled around with some ideas since that guitar has a more lush sound than the Henderson, which I attribute to the rosewood sides. It has a sweet balance across the strings that brings a nice richness to a solo guy singing with one guitar song.