Polka Dot Signature Edition Honors<br>Blues Legend Buddy Guy
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 21 - Jul. 2006
JC Buddy Guy
With five Grammy Awards, 23 W.C. Handy Awards (the most of any artist), 65 albums, a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and disciples like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy ranks as one of the music legends of our time. He reigns as the undisputed king of Chicago blues with his fine songwriting, potent voice, incendiary playing and electrif ying stage presence. Remarkably, more than fifty years after he first picked up a guitar, he is making some of the most passionate and exciting music of his entire career.
While Chicago blues by definition is electric, Buddy Guy can play acoustic blues with the best of them when he chooses. He and Willie Dixon provided the instrumental fireworks on the 1963 album “Muddy Waters, Folk Singer.” On 1981’s “Alone & Acoustic, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells,” he used a 12-string guitar to full, bluesy advantage. His playing on the 2004 album “Buddy Guy, Blues Singer” is both subtle and powerful.
Still, when it came to creating a Martin Signature Edition with his name on it, Buddy Guy showed himself to be anything but a traditionalist. The JC Buddy Guy Blues Guitar may well be the most distinctive Signature Edition Martin has ever made!
The JC Buddy Guy Blues Guitar combines Martin’s J (Jumbo) body style – like the Martin Buddy has played at acoustic concerts in recent years – with a cutaway for big sound and easy access to the upper frets. The Sitka spruce top is reinforced with 5/16" scalloped braces for clear tone and impressive dynamic range. The sides and Style 35 three-piece back are richly colored East Indian rosewood. The low profile 1-11/16" (at the nut) neck is carved from genuine mahogany.
But it is the appointments that really set the JC Buddy Guy Blues Guitar apart. Buddy likes polka dots on his guitars, and polka dots he got. The unique rosette features three five-ply black/white rings, the inner two flanking a ring of turquoise composite dots. Turquoise composite dot inlays also accent the black ebony belly bridge and the ebony bridge pins. The black ebony fingerboard provides the palette for a random “splash” of turquoise composite polka dots. Buddy Guy’s “BG” initials serve as the position marker at the 12th fret, while mother of pearl dots, bordered in turquoise, mark the 5th, 7th, 9th and 15th frets. The black ebony headplate showcases the block letter “C. F. Martin” logo, also inlaid in turquoise composite.
This guitar showcases extraordinary purfling, even for a Signature Edition Martin. The top features seven-ply, differential width black/white purfling while the back is encircled by five-ply black/white fine line purfling. Black/white purfling accents the sides, endpiece, heelcap, headstock and fingerboard. To show off the purf ling to best advantage, the guitar is bound in grained ivoroid throughout: body, neck and headstock. A gloss finish on the body highlights the purfling; the neck sports a satin finish for playing comfort.
The JC Buddy Guy Blues Guitar is factory equipped with Fishman VT electronics. To simplify “on the fly” adjustments in the tradition of electric blues, the volume and tone knobs are mounted on the top, just below the bridge and the polished and beveled black pickguard.
Buddy Guy is as unique as the Martin guitar that bears his name. Born a sharecropper’s son in Lettsworth, Louisiana, he was a seven-year-old when he fashioned his first makeshift two-string “guitar.” He received his first real guitar as a teenager and served his blues apprenticeship as a guitarist with “Big Poppa” John Tilly and Slim Harpo in Baton Rouge before catching a bus to Chicago in 1957. Within days of his arrival in Chicago, he caught the attention of Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Magic Slim and the rest of Chicago’s blues elite. After cutting his debut singles on the Cobra label, he went to work for Chess, becoming the house guitarist for recordings by Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Little Walter and many others, in addition to making his own records, like “First Time I Met the Blues,” “Stone Crazy” and “No Lie.” His highly amplified, stinging guitar, emotional singing and flashy playing (behind his back, with his teeth, etc.) onstage inspired several young musicians, including Eric Clapton in England, and Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn in the United States.
Guy left Chess in 1967 to record with Vanguard. During the late 1960s and 1970s, in addition to working with his own band, he played and recorded frequently with harp ace Junior Wells, a relationship captured on the live album “Drinkin’ TNT ‘n’ Smokin’ Dynamite.” Sadly, the 1970s and 1980s were difficult decades for Chicago bluesmen. Guy bounced from label to label for several years and spent long stretches touring clubs in the United States and Europe. For several years in the late 1980s, he couldn’t get a U.S. record deal, even though he was revered by the best rock guitarists on the planet.
The difficult days ended in 1991 with the release of “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues,” which won a Grammy and brought Guy a new generation of fans. A series of fine albums followed, including “Slippin’ In,” “Sweet Tea” and his latest, “Bring ‘Em In,” which features an all-star cast of guest artists: Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Keb Mo’, Tracy Chapman, and John Mayer. Buddy Guy was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. When not on tour – his 2006 schedule includes shows in Australia, Puerto Rico, Latvia and Mexico as well as throughout the United States – he can often be found at his Chicago nightclub, Buddy Guy’s Legends.
Delivered in a Geib style hardshell case, each Martin JC Buddy Guy Blues Guitar bears an interior label individually signed by Buddy Guy and Martin Chairman C. F. Martin IV and is numbered in sequence with the edition total. Martin will accept orders from authorized C. F. Martin dealers for the JC Buddy Guy Blues Guitar until September 15, 2006, after which the number of guitars in this Signature Edition and the names of participating Martin dealers will be posted on the Martin website.