Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wayne Henderson Guitars

Wayne Henderson Guitars.

I'd already become aware of the name Wayne Henderson, but I had no idea the man made such amazing guitars. I might have been told that he was a luthier, I just don't know. I'd bought a guitar book out of Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and I believe the book, which also came with a cd, was called High On A Mountain.

I've still got both the disc and the book. If I remember correctly without looking, then I'll make a leap and say that Steve Earl with the Del McCoury Band are on the cover of the thing - and Wayne Henderson performs a super fast, and extremely tasteful version of the old fiddle tune called Back Up and Push.

I also recall from memory that that particular track had some super nice jazz piano in it - very nice to hear a fiddle tune duet with a piano!

Well, Wayne Henderson doesn't pick with a pick, he often does flatpicking using his thumb for down-strokes  and his first finger or index finger for the upstrokes. For all the world though, it sounds like he's using a tortoise shell pick.

This webpage, however, isn't so much about the great guitar playing that Wayne Henderson can do - it's about the great guitars that Wayne Henderson DOES make. I read somewhere in some magazine that he'd started making guitars because he couldn't afford to buy a good one! Gosh don't we acoustic guitar lovers understand THAT? The other thing I recall reading was that Eric Clapton had heard of these amazing guitars - and decided he wanted one. Well, Mr. Henderson, not to be the type of guy to play favorites, put Eric on the two year waiting list - as he had a nice log of orders to fill already!

To me, that's integrity!

So how did I find out about the Wayne Henderson guitars? Not in a magazine. I'd went to Winfield, Kansas - the second time that I'd gone, and went to see the Walnut Valley Festival. I'd brought my Santa Cruz guitar, and I'd been far too shy to play with folks, but my chops were up, and so I'd play out in the campground, and I did, indeed, get some audiences going.....and lots of free beer, a few offers to play on stage five, or six, or whatever the public stage in the campground is - and more than anything, lots of compliments on my Santa Cruz model D.

But of course I'd went to the Walnut Valley Festival to hear music, and especially exciting for me - to see the Flatpicking Championship.

My Uncle had drove us there, and we were watching all the championship contests together, and we couldn't figure out what kind of guitars it was that this one guy in particular was playing. The guy was just killer on the guitar, and his name was Scott Fore. After one of his rounds in the contest, my uncle Tom and I managed to have a word with Mr. Scott Fore, an accountant, as I recall - from somewhere, and ask,

What kind of guitar are you playing?

The answer was - he was playing a Henderson.

Wayne Henderson And One Of His Henderson Guitars!

Wayne Henderson Fine Acoustic Guitars.

Now as for myself, my uncles- we're fans of fine acoustic guitars, and we have been since my grandfather instilled it into us. Well, as the Walnut Valley Festival went on that year, we realized we'd been left in the dark about these instruments, but that time was over, and the time or recognition was here. The only conclusion one could make after absorbing it all was that some of the finest flatpicking guitarist in the USA preferred Wayne Henderson guitars to all others, and so, they were worthy of all the same respect given to Martin Guitars, to Santa Cruz guitars, to Collings guitars, and to any other brand of guitar as well.
What was so noticeable about Henderson guitars? Well, the headstock is entirely different in shape, "headstock," being the term I and others use to describe the wooden piece at the furthest end of the guitar's neck, and where the tuning machines are mounted. Headstocks are often heavily inlay-ed with abalone, and these guitars certainly were too. Some might notice the Henderson guitar headstocks are reminiscent of Mossman guitars, I think they are, and besides that, these are going to be some very rare and very sought after guitars...just like those, but even more so, produced by Mossman.
Of course Mr. Henderson models his guitars after the greats by Martin, but he's not limited to guitars, he makes Gibson F style mandolins, and the occasional banjo or fiddle, it's all custom work, and there is, of course, the rather long waiting list for getting one of these very much in demand instruments. Finding one for sale on the used market is iffy, and though I've seen some Henderson guitars for sale on the web, most often I see a lovely page with gushing details and images, and then up top, the tease, sold, no longer available.


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