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Bashkin Owner: Phillip O. Otts

michael bashkin

The road leading to Michael's door rose to meet me more than 40 years ago, when I first picked up a friend's guitar.  Marty was a gifted musician, the son of an opera singer, and he could do things on the guitar none of us the rest of us could imagine, the kind of finger style playing that seems common today but was quite rare back in the early 70's. That's when I first began my search for the perfect chord on the perfect guitar with the richest possible tone.  

A few years later, I found myself working my way through college in a series of music stores and guitar shops, with the opportunity to play every imaginable name brand guitar.  Soon afterwards, my work led to extensive travel, and I developed the habit of finding time to visit every guitar shop I could find, from San Francisco to London, from Hong Kong to Vienna, from Manila to Dublin.

Fast forward a few decades, and you'll find a middle aged guy who has owned dozens of fine guitars over the years – but never found the perfect tone he was looking for.  I've often joked with my wife that I'm faithful to her, but not to my guitars:  They come, they go.  I keep looking.  Some of my musical affairs last a couple of years, most no more than a couple of months. A few years back, yours truly found himself browsing the web, looking for new guitars to date, when he spotted a shop in a small town in Maryland that appeared to stock quite a few boutique guitars I had never played before.  Before you know it, I'm on the road and knocking on the shopkeeper's door.  

He had some truly fine guitars, from a number of highly respected luthiers, but one guitar stood head and shoulders above the rest:  A Bashkin OM with a cedar top and mahogany back and sides.  The tone was spectacular, rich and resonant, with wonderful overtones and endless sustain.  I was smitten, and tried my best to persuade the shopkeeper to accept a trade-in for the Bashkin, in keeping with an agreement I have with my wife to sell a guitar "mistress" when I buy a new one.  He wouldn't budge, so I walked away – wondering if I would regret it.  I did.

Well, I'm kind of slow, so it took a couple of years for me to decide the only solution was to order a new guitar from Michael.  I was a bit nervous, at first, having never ordered a custom guitar before, but the process was a simple pleasure.  Michael is a meticulous, thoughtful craftsman who listens carefully to everything you have to say and brings your collaborative imagination to life.  Michael kept me involved from beginning to end, with emails and photographs documenting each stage of the process.  

The results were spectacular, and the tone of my guitar continues to open up the more I play.  During the first three weeks after I received the guitar, I was inspired to compose three new finger style tunes on the guitar.  Over the past week, I've been experimenting with DADGAD again, after a long hiatus, and found myself discovering fresh inspiration, with a sense of awe at the richness of the sound emerging from the beautiful guitar I held in my hands.

I'll be honest:  I'm not a great guitarist.  I play mostly for myself, my family and a few friends.  I often back up my son, an Irish fiddle player, and we sometimes play with a local Irish traditional music session, where I also play the violin.  So, I would be the first to admit I don't deserve my guitar – the tone and playability far exceed my capabilities – but I do appreciate the instrument and look forward to many years of pleasure and inspiration.  I guess you could say it was time for this particular player to settle down.  As any happily married man will tell you, that can only happen with the right girl.  Thanks again, Michael!