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I was fortunate enough to hang around World of Strings in the early '70s
when I got out of the Navy and was living in Long Beach. Bob Mattingly was
both a superb craftsman and a gracious host to anyone visiting his shop.
Bob studied the physics of musical instruments, and applied his knowledge
to the instruments--both guitars and lutes--that he made, which is why
they sound and play so superbly. I had the great good fortune one day to
have him explain why lutes had fallen out of favor (compared to guitars,
they were quiet), and then have him pick up and play one of his lutes.
Built to his own design based on his studies, that thing had all the power
and volume of a quality 12-string guitar--perhaps more. Bob made, if I
recall correctly, about 25 instruments a year, and all were lovingly made.
I did some black and white photography of him in the shop and presented
him with a couple of 16 x 20 prints. In return, he replaced the original,
worn-out tuners on my 1964 Martin 00-21NY (which had made a couple of
deployments to Vietnam with me), gratis. Those tuners are still in place
and are a wonderful reminder, every time I pick it up (these days I
usually have to pry it out of my wife's hands!), of a warm and gracious
man and an amazing craftsman.
Studios in Nevada City CA. Seems quite a nice instrument.