This Old Guitar

I just wanted to share with the class a story about a family treasure that means a lot to me.

My mom’s dad, Grandpa Sams, has always had strong country roots. He also happens to be an excellent banjo and guitar player and enthusiast. Grandpa Sams and my dad bonded over guitar playing sessions, and their passion for the instrument inspired me to take up playing as well.

One of our most precious family possessions comes from my Grandpa Sams and his affinity for well-made guitars. In 1983, my grandpa and his friend came across some expensive Brazilian rosewood in Virginia Beach, Virginia (only half an hour away from where I live now) and bought the supply. They then approached well-known quality guitar-making company C.F. Martin & Company with an offer to sell them the rare wood to be used for their guitars. Martin accepted, and, in exchange, offered to hand-craft the first two guitars from the batch of wood for Grandpa Sams and his friend. They were invited to come to the factory and watch their guitars being made, then were presented with two beautiful, custom Brazilian rosewood Martin guitars adorned with copious amounts of mother-of-pearl.

My grandpa has treasured that guitar since then; he now keeps it at my house, where it would be safer because we have a security system. Every time I take that quality Martin guitar out to play it, or even just to look at it, I’m always inspired and awed by the beauty of the wood and my grandpa’s name, Ed Sams, engraved in mother-of-pearl script across the neck. We love to look at the pictures my grandpa took at the factory of the different stages of his guitar being made and of him and his friend with C.F. Martin III and C.F. Martin IV, virtual royalty in the guitar world. Grandpa Sams has expressed the desire to leave the guitar to me someday, and I plan to honor and treasure his perseverance and ambition as I pass down the guitar and its pictures to future generations of my family, which it will never leave.

— chelsea midgette

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