I’ve been learning to play the guitar for a little over a year now and started to wonder where my guitar was made. A quick Google search brought up a video tour of the manufacturer’s guitar factory in China. It makes sense; the company isn’t American and produces several different instruments along with a wide variety of other products.
BUT there are many guitars made in the USA, especially those brands considered top-of-the-line. Martin Guitars, a favorite of many professional musicians, are famously made in Nazareth, PA and have been since around 1840. Taylor Guitars are made in California and Gibson Electric Guitars are made in Tennessee…not to mention the oodles of small specialty luthiers across the country.
With that in mind, I must share the story of Huss & Dalton Musical Instruments in Staunton, VA. (Only 40 miles from the Locallectual home base!) These guys are as local as local can get, especially for Central Virginia Locallectuals. They make about 350 guitars a year and some banjos too. Many of their orders are for Virginia-area bluegrass and traditional folk musicians. They even use local wood! All of their current instrument tops are braced with a supply of Appalachian Red Spruce, harvested from trees in southwest Virginia that were threatened by encroaching disease. The founders, Jeff Huss and Mark Dalton, are themselves bluegrass and traditional American folk musicians. So for all musicians, fans, and curators of the traditional music out of Central Virginia and the Appalachian mountains, Huss & Dalton instruments are a mountain-y, local-y dream come true, with authorized dealers across the US.
Still here’s the kicker: Last Spring, Huss & Dalton released a custom guitar, “The Monticello,” made with wood from Thomas Jefferson’s tulip poplar that famously stands on Monticello’s lawn! The fretboard even features a woodburned engraving of Monticello, along with the tulip poplar and Jefferson’s signature. You can read the whole story in the Huss & Dalton newsletter. Not surprisingly, the retail cost of this extra special guitar is pretty steep, but 30% of the cost is donated to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello.
Now just to win that lottery…