Tenor Martin Honors Kingston Trio’s Nick Reynolds
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 29 - Jun. 2010
0-18T Nick Reynolds
It is hard to believe Nick Reynolds left us on October 1, 2008. A founding member of the Kingston Trio, his fine voice, original playing, energetic stage presence and irrepressible sense of humor were integral elements of the Kingston Trio’s success for two decades. Away from the limelight, he was gentle, gracious and accessible, with an obvious enthusiasm for life in everything he did. Like the music he helped create, he was uniquely memorable, which makes his passing such a shock.
When Nick Reynolds joined Bob Shane and Dave Guard to form the Kingston Trio back in 1957, “folk” (for lack of a better word) music was at a low ebb, devastated both by the “Red Scare” and the advent of rock & roll. The combination of Bob’s warm baritone, Nick’s and Dave’s rich harmonies, the threesome’s prowess on guitar, tenor guitar and banjo respectively, and their spirited, wholesome style changed the musical landscape forever. Beginning with “Tom Dooley,” the group’s first hit single, the Kingston Trio made traditional acoustic music cool again. Additional hit singles like “M.T.A.” (on which Reynolds sang lead),"A Worried Man" and "Tijuana Jail," sold-out concert appearances and huge album sales – 14 of its albums reached the “Top 10” - turned the Kingston Trio into one of the major musical forces of the era. The group was so popular in late 1959 that it had four “Top 10” albums simultaneously, a feat never surpassed and only equaled by the Beatles. It also inspired and paved the way for other artists, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter Paul & Mary and many others.
Nick Reynolds remained a member of the Kingston Trio until it broke up in 1967. He then retired and moved to Port Orford, Oregon where he raised a family and became a rancher, antique dealer and movie theatre owner. He also took time to collaborate with fellow former Trio member John Stewart (who replaced Dave Guard in 1961) and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham on one album, 1983’s Revenge of the Budgie (Budgie being his nickname within the Trio).
He returned to his hometown of San Diego in 1985 and three years later joined Bob Shane and George Grove in a reconstituted Kingston Trio, with which he remained until his retirement in 1999. In recent years, he joined John Stewart – now sadly also gone - at an annual Trio Fantasy Camp that enabled campers to perform with them and be, for one or two songs, a member of the Trio.
In 1997, the Martin Guitar Company honored the Kingston Trio on its 40th anniversary with a Kingston Trio Limited Edition set – guitar, tenor guitar and banjo (by Vega) – that included labels signed by members Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds and George Grove, plus former member John Stewart. However, only 34 sets were produced. Now Martin honors Nick Reynolds as an individual with the introduction of the 0-18T Nick Reynolds Commemorative Custom Artist Edition tenor guitar.
For those unfamiliar with tenor guitars, these four-string beauties were created back in the late 1920s to enable banjo players of the era – of which there were many – to transition to guitar. Built with a small body, short scale and fast, narrow neck, the tenor guitar soon found its way into genres from country to jazz, and eventually - thanks to Nick Reynolds – into folk. Originally tuned in fifths like a tenor banjo, usually CDGA, the tenor guitar offer a range of tuning possibilities, including guitar tuning (DGBE), octave mandolin tuning (GDAE) and a variety of open tunings.
The Martin 0-18T Nick Reynolds Commemorative Custom Artist Edition encompasses many of the elements of the original 0-18T that Martin discontinued in 1989. This classic tenor guitar features premium solid tonewoods throughout: a top of Sitka spruce with ¼-inch non-scalloped braces, back and sides of genuine mahogany, and a neck carved from solid mahogany. Old Style 18 appointments abound, from the rosette and five-layer black/white top purfling to the tortoise brown body binding and Delmar™ tortoise brown endpiece. The finish likewise emulates the original: straw aging toner on the top, dark stain on the back and sides, and Mar tin’s flawless polished gloss lacquer on the body. Also stained dark to match the body, the neck receives a satin finish.
The East Indian rosewood headplate provides a warm background for the familiar “C. F. Martin” gold decal. The headstock is also fitted with classic Grover Rotomatic enclosed chrome tuners. In a departure from Style 18 appointments, the fingerboard and bridge are crafted from black ebony. Abalone pearl position markers of diminishing size at the 5th, 7th and 9th frets lead to Nick Reynolds signature in mother of pearl between the 19th and 20th frets. The nut and com-pensated dropin saddle are both genuine bone. A black ebony heelcap, and a beveled and polished black pickguard, complete the appointments.
Each Martin 0-18T Nick Reynolds Commemorative Custom Artist Edition guitar bears an interior label that combines Nick Reynolds’ facsimile signature with the actual signature of Leslie Reynolds, Nick’s widow. A special tenor Geib™ style hardshell case is included with each guitar. Authorized C. F. Martin dealers are now taking orders for the open-ended 0-18T Nick Reynolds Commemorative Custom Artist Edition (including left-handed instruments, which may be requested at no additional cost). In the near future, a list of participating Martin dealers will be posted on our website.