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VOL. 7 | NO. 3 | Saturday, January 11, 2014

 

Saint Blues Celebrates 30th Birthday with Events, New Guitars

By Andy Meek

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Memphis-based guitar maker Saint Blues Guitar Workshop is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014 and is marking the occasion in part with the introduction of several new guitar models.

In addition to putting on some events later this year, Saint Blues is launching a 1984 Bluesmaster reissue guitar model that will be a replica of the company’s first Bluesmaster. It will be part of Saint Blues’ Workshop Series, the company’s high-end line of guitars.

Saint Blues this year also is introducing a new Juke Joint model called the Scoundrel, which will fall within the company’s mid-priced line of guitars. That double cutaway guitar features a tapped P90 neck and a splittable humbucker at the bridge.

Other things on the way include Saint Blues launching a new finish color for its Juke Joint Mississippi Bluesmaster model called Sweet Tea. The finish color for that model is inspired by a certain staple drink in the South, and a limited edition 30th Anniversary Workshop Series Bluescaster model also is on the way.

Lead guitar tech Greg Mitchell assembles a guitar featuring Saint Blues’ 30th anniversary “sweet tea” color. The Memphis-based guitar maker is celebrating its anniversary this year.

(Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)

That one is a small double cutaway model that’s the same model guitarist Joe Walsh of bands such as the Eagles played.

“2014 will be a milestone for Saint Blues, as we enter our 30th anniversary year,” said vice president of operations Jeff Cox. “I’m personally excited about moving forward with our phenomenal products, as well as the introduction of our new models.”

Saint Blues president Bryan Eagle called 2013 a strong year for the business and said he’s looking for 2014 “to be a breakout year.”

“Our roots instrument line, especially the cigar box guitars, have absolutely taken off, and the Juke Joint line is growing very rapidly with dealers and online sales,” Eagle said.

Those cigar box guitars are visible in Saint Blues’ attached storefront, where customers can look over the folksy instruments and some customers will even pick them up and start playing them together in a kind of impromptu jam session.

The cigar box guitars look like relics from the Civil War era and have a distinct, rootsy sound. Items elsewhere in the Saint Blues store include washboards and vials of gravel from the famed crossroads in Mississippi – the place where bluesman Robert Johnson, according to legend, sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the ability to play guitar.

Also part of the Saint Blues space, which is close by Sun Studio Downtown, is a large work area where employees hunch over benches handcrafting instruments sold both here and to customers around the world.

Saint Blues launched in Memphis in 1984 and soon evolved into a boutique guitar brand. The year Saint Blues started, Strings and Things music store owners Chris Lovell and Charles Lawing, along with guitar designer Tom Keckler, teamed up to turn a design Keckler and Lawing had worked on into a new line of Bluesmaster guitars.

The line was purchased in 2006 by Eagle of Memphis Ventures. Soon after, Saint Blues launched its Workshop Series of high-end guitars, the line of cigar box guitars and electric washboards, and the Juke Joint series of mid-priced guitars.

Saint Blues’ line of original guitars are available directly through the company’s showroom, on the Web and at select dealers worldwide. A few months ago, Saint Blues also created a signature guitar for Memphis native and blues guitar player Eric Gales.

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