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Rotarians get guitar lessons
Howard Paul
Benedetto Guitar President Howard Paul displays two guitars while speaking to Hinesville Rotary Club - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger
Howard Paul, president of Benedetto Guitars in Savannah, visited Hinesville last week to give Rotarians a quick rundown of the history and current of state of guitar manufacturing and popularity — especially regarding hand-crafted guitars, Paul’s forte.
He said the guitar has a long history that spans a couple hundred years and a few continents. Paul said the instrument now known to dominate rock and roll music wasn’t always in the forefront.
“It was originally designed to accompany the human voice,” he said. “It was a folk instrument not a classical, orchestral instrument.”
Over the course of history, Paul said, guitars have changed dramatically. In the 1920s, it was redesigned for amplification, in 1930s a magnetic pickup was added, and in the 1950s, Fender began mass producing the electric guitar for the first time.
However, despite the availability to mass produce the instrument, Paul said hand-crafted guitars remained a viable business because they ultimately produce a clearer, purer sound.
World-renowned jazz guitar builder Bob Benedetto, who briefly designed guitars for Fender, called  Paul and the two came to Savannah to start a their own guitar business. They now specialize in manufacturing and hand-crafting jazz guitars.
“He personally packs each instrument we build,” Paul said of Benedetto.
Paul said like many businesses that specialize in luxury items, Benedetto Guitars changed during the past year with the recession, but they’ve been able to remain in business.
Although they sell guitars that can, depending on the kind of wood, cost upward of $30,000, the company’s profits are rising. Paul said this may be because the larger manufacturers flooded the market with too much inventory.
“We’re down 25 percent in units sold ... but we’re up 12 percent in net sales,” Paul said.
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