Wayne Henderson and Vintage Martins

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by drbob1, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Some of you may have read "The Making of Clapton's Guitar" about the work of Wayne Henderson, who was Gruhn's guitar tech for a while and has been inside as many golden era Martins as anyone alive. He's been building a very small number of guitars that are supposed to equal or exceed the quality of a pre-War Martin, but it's REALLY hard to find one to play or to compare.

    First off, the book suggests that Wayne builds these gems for peanuts. I think his friends have encouraged him to change his ways, a mahogany Henderson is probably a $10k guitar, and the Rosewood one I saw at Carter's was about $20k. It was very pretty, definitely more exciting inlay that a D-45.

    How did it play? Very well, thanks! The neck was thinner than I expected, definitely not as full bodied as most 40s Martins. The fretwork was great, and the action was really good. I have a pretty heavy pick hand and despite the decent action, I wasn't getting any buzzing unless I hit really had. The voice of the guitar was unexpected. The bass was deep, but the treble didn't sound exactly like my memories of a Martin. It seemed a bit thinner. What was weird was that, as I played the guitar, it seemed to be opening up in real time (it was brand new, just in the shop) so I have no idea what the guitar would sound like in a year. The book suggests that they start out great and end up sublime when they've been played for a while.

    Anyway, I was glad to have the chance to play it, I probably won't spend $20k on a new Henderson (or a used one for that matter, they're priced about the same) but I can see the attraction for someone who makes their living with 6 strings!
     
  2. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

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    I met Wayne when he was on the "Masters of the Steel String Guitar" tour in the early 90's, before the Clapton book happened. He told me I could order one of his guitars for about $1500; I shoulda jumped!

    :facepalm
     
  3. sears

    sears Member

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    Is a vintage martini just a martini with a drop of liquid smoke in it?
     
  4. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Although the book makes it clear that ordering a Henderson is a test of patience, it took him 5 years to make Clapton's and that was only because of the author bugging him (he built another for charity and the author's guitar all during the same 6 months or so).
     
  5. PLAYLOUD

    PLAYLOUD Member

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    He lives in the NC Mountains I believe. My step father lives there and has met him a few times. From what I'm told he looks like he has not a dime to his name, but I was fortunate enough to have play one of his guitars. It was incredible. Not sure I've ever played an acoustic that played that easily and like, as they say butter. Fantastic guitar!
     
  6. snarkle

    snarkle Member

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    Me, too!

    Damn...
     
  7. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Well, from the book, you might still be waiting (unless you're good at baking cookies!).
     
  8. plexigary

    plexigary Supporting Member

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    They definitely come up on the used market from time to time, and the few I've played have been very nice. Larry Wexer here in NYC has a koa 00-42 Henderson for sale now.
     
  9. clemduolian

    clemduolian Silver Supporting Member

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    There's 3 for sale on the Dream Guitars site...including one over $50K. Go for it!
     
  10. waylon

    waylon Member

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    he lives in Virginia and can play and sing too. multi talented guy that is unbelievably nice. I've gotten to play a few and they are 'bucket list' to me.
     
  11. Blue4Now

    Blue4Now Gold Supporting Member

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    Cool! I read the book twice and had it signed by Wayne at a book signing. He played his om or ooo size guitar (can't remember which) as well. Great experience and a real treasure to the guitar world
     
  12. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I've heard that he's mad skilled in bluegrass guitar! Does he still have the festival every year?
     
  13. boo radley

    boo radley Supporting Member

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    I liked the book, but didn't like the "Clapton" angle....as far as anyone knows, EC has never touched the guitar that was built for him, no?

    It doesn't diminish Wayne Henderson's skills, nor the story of the artistry and culture, but the tie-in to Eric always struck me as a sales gimmick.
     
  14. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    I thought this as well with regard to the author. Even in his own book I got the vibe that neither Henderson nor Clapton were particularly interested in each other, the guitars, and the book.
     
  15. Blue4Now

    Blue4Now Gold Supporting Member

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    agreed, probably needed some commercial aspect to get the deal with the publisher
     

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