I first played a Benedetto guitar in 1997. My teacher, Jack Petersen, had one. It was just incredible. Good neck, balanced, no dead spots on the neck, and beautiful finish. Of course, I wanted one, but a grad student putting themselves through school could never afford a guitar like that. Nonetheless I always wanted one. Through my association with various companies, especially Mel Bay Publications, I developed a relationship with Bob and Cindy Benedetto (the high royalty/king and queen of the arch-top guitar world) and also Howard Paul (CEO for Benedetto Guitars). In addition, I have known Jackson Evans, the man behind a lot of the scenes at Benedetto, since he literally started holding a guitar. Such great people to be around. (One of my favorite things about the guitar player and guitar builder community is all the great people. Truly the coolest people on the earth.)
For years, I attended trade shows and music conventions where I would sneak down to the Benedetto booth to play the beautiful guitars. They were all beautiful and all played great. But there was one I kind of fell in love with – the company’s Pat Martino model. I’d played a few of these guitars and they were all great, but this one had mojo. Serious mojo. Maybe it’s because it was the guitar that went to literally every show and had been played by countless great guitarists. It was the workhorse of the Benedetto booth and as such maybe the mojo of countless good players was left on its fretboard. It’s heavier than the other PM models I’ve played… maybe that’s why I liked it. The weight might have made it unique. I don’t know for sure, but I fell in love with that guitar. Not just the model, but THAT guitar. It started a conversation between Howard and me that led to me coming to the Benedetto family as an endorser. I told Howard, “I’d like to work with Benedetto, but I need that Pat Martino guitar.” He told me they could make me one however I wanted but that was the office/convention guitar. I told him I needed THAT guitar. Low and behold, I have that guitar. Perfect neck. Perfect balance. No dead notes, just like the one I fell in love with during my lessons with Jack almost 25 years ago. Granted, his was a full arch-top and the PM is a little different, but it still has all the things that makes it a Benedetto. AND a great one at that. The only thing that has changed on that guitar since it’s convention days is the beautiful inland on the fretboard that Damon Mailand did for me so my in-person and online students can see what I’m actually doing on the fretboard. Even that touch is perfect and in harmony with the way the guitar was meant to exist.
If it’s at all true that a person can somewhat be judged by the company they keep, I’m honored to be a part of what Bob and Cindy started and what Howard, Dave Miner, Jackson Evans and Damon Mailand continue to move forward, which is excellence. They live by the mantra If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. That’s what they’ve always been about. My guitar is a beast. It’s good for the straight ahead playing I do and it’s great for some of the rowdier things I do as well. It’s one of those guitars that just gets it done in any setting.