Robert Godin went deer hunting in 1972 and came back with a guitar factory instead of a buck. Today, the company that bears his name is one of the largest stringed-instrument manufacturers in North America, and counts legendary players like John McLaughlin and Steve Stevens among its endorsees.

By tapping into classic concepts yet constantly adding new ideas and refinements, Godin Guitars has grown into one of the largest manufacturers in North America over the last 40 years. With an annual production of 175,000 instruments across its six guitar brands—Godin, Seagull, Simon & Patrick, Art & Lutherie, Norman, and La Patrie—the company is most decidedly not a small guitar maker. Certainly not when compared to solitary luthiers toiling away in basements, attics, and backyard shops. Yet the company retains a smaller, more boutique feel as a result of its constant striving for innovation, improvement, and responsiveness to player needs. And those characteristics are a direct reflection of founder Robert Godin’s personal attitude toward instrument experimentation.

6-Point Buck or 6-String Factory?
In the early 1960s, amateur guitarists everywhere were struggling to replicate the sounds they heard on records. Among them was a 15-year-old Canadian named Robert Godin. Like many others, he was fascinated by the tones of the Ventures and the Beatles, but he found the majority of instruments available to him weren’t suited to those styles. While working at Harmony Lab, a Montreal music store, Godin began experimenting with different string gauges, employing banjo strings on guitars, and modifying other instrument components. His innovations garnered praise and word-of-mouth testimonials amongst local guitar players. Gradually, that fan base grew to musicians from cities all across Canada.

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For all the emphasis, time, and money we guitarists put into tonewoods, pickups, amps, tubes, effects, speakers, and even cables, we often spend very little time thinking about the core component without which a guitar simply becomes a collection of wood—strings.

The first scene in Davis Guggenheim’s acclaimed 2008 documentary, It Might Get Loud, shows Jack White stringing a wire across a crusty plank of wood outfitted with a Coke-bottle bridge, a Tele bridge pickup, and nails for a tuner and a tailpiece. It’s possibly the most primal lap-slide ever, but despite its roughness it sounds positively badass through White’s ancient valve amp. What’s more, though the film is chock full of luxurious closeups of the iconic and priceless instruments and amps used by White and guitar gods Jimmy Page and the Edge, this opening scene cuts to the chase in a way we rarely consider: For all the emphasis, time, and money we guitarists put into tonewoods, pickups, amps, tubes, effects, speakers, and even cables, we often spend very little time thinking about the core component without which a guitar simply becomes a collection of wood—strings.

The history of stringed instruments stretches back centuries. For most of that time, strings were created using organic materials, primarily animal hair and intestines. Historians frequently refer to “cat gut” strings, but that’s misleading, because generally the intestines of farm animals such as sheep, lamb, or cattle provided the components for early strings. But that all changed early in the 20th century, when guitar builders began using steel strings to increase durability and volume. Gibson was an early proponent, and C.F. Martin & Co. also transitioned to steel strings in the 1920s.

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An incredibly talented guitar player and teacher who created a family tree of musicians built on sincerity and patience.

Jamis Otis Wyble

Born: January 25, 1922
Died: January 16, 2010
Best Known For: His contributions to Western swing and jazz, most notably his etudes and explorations of contrapuntal concepts and technique. Wyble was also highly regarded as an instructor.

When imagining a guitar genius, one might envision clichés of an eccentric artist, probably with unkempt hair, a tormented stare, and a whiff of madness. The genius leaves behind a list of broken relationships coldly sacrificed in obsessive pursuit of art. But sometimes that mold is broken. Sometimes the genius is surprisingly humble, generous, and caring. Sometimes a legacy is sustained not only by recordings and musical breakthroughs, but also by lives touched and changed. Such is the case with Jimmy Wyble, an incredibly talented guitar player and teacher who created a family tree of musicians built on sincerity and patience. He played country, Western swing, jazz, and classical music, yet it’s tough to find anyone who doesn’t mention Wyble’s personality first when discussing his proficiency on the guitar.

James Otis Wyble (January 25, 1922-– January 16, 2010) was born in Port Arthur, Texas, to Cajun parents who hailed from Port Barre, Louisiana. He began playing guitar at 12 and received lessons from a machinist at the oil refinery where his father worked. The teacher taught Wyble to read music, along with a few rudimentary chords. By his midteens, the young guitar player was performing with his teacher at parties and small dances. Wyble’s early influences included bands that passed through Port Arthur and Houston, along with the work of jazz guitarists Eddie Lang and Carl Kress, among others. The mixture of Texas country and Western music with Cajun influences provided the base, a sort of roux, if you will, to which later jazz inspirations would be added.

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