Interviewing Marty Macica – A Master of Stringed Instrument Making

DSC_0338I sat in Marty Macica’s small shop and considered the unpretentiousness of a man who is my friend. I asked to see his guitar and he pulled the case from the corner of the shop and we opened the clasps jointly. Last month I saw a work he had just completed and I was impressed by the humility of his work. Unpretentiousness is, as I have witnessed throughout my life as a working craftsman, the quality of a man at rest in his sphere of expertise. He no longer needs to prove anything about himself that somehow validates him; his work far surpasses any criticism others might offer. Whilst others go about life seeking the approval of others, the craftsman rests in realms of reality that many people never know. A man, a creative man, a working man, considers the work his hands make, comes to a place in what he makes, no matter what he makes, knowing that the quality of his work is good. He seeks no validation by sales or amounts or prestigious clients. When I am with Marty, I feel that rare sense I can only describe as ‘belonging’. It’s a man at ease in his craft as an artisan maker. He found a calling, responded, entered into it and eventually knew his calling by answering every dimension of it with his whole being. His tools, his creative workspace, his sphere of creativity, accepts the limits of self-discipline others might slough off or give up on. Marty has mastered his craft as a violin maker. His workmanship is superb.

Teaching his craft

DSC_0336Marty was excited in that he is about to enter new realms of teaching his craft of making beautiful instruments like this to others. You cannot keep art and creativity at this level hidden in silence and I feel grateful that Marty is about to enter those realms all craftsmen should eventually enter in order to preserve their craft. This coming September 14, 2013 at the Maplewood Center, Marty Macica will be sharing from his 30 years experience as practicing maker the essential elements of what it takes to build a hand made guitar. Places will be limited to 25 attendees, but he will be offering this in future workshops as his schedule permits. This intro-workshop is thankfully a prelude to subsequent workshops he will be offering on actually building instruments, so if you have ever wanted to build your own guitar, this is the place to get started.

I must say I do feel a gratitude that this master is about to launch courses for others to glean from and perhaps begin building their own guitar under his mastery and tutelage.

This is indeed a course for any guitar enthusiast whether they plan to build a guitar or simply want to better understand their personal instrument. I think every guitarist can understand so much more from knowing just what it takes to build fine instruments and I know for myself that I always learn so much from just being with Marty and watching him execute complex tasks by hand.

I also confess another perspective I like. There is not a single machine in his shop. No thickness planers, jointers, table saws, bandsaws, belt sanders and so on. This guitar is utterly hand built using only hand methods several of which Marty has developed through three decades of building everything from violins and cellos to violas and mandolins; instruments for which Marty is particularly famous.

This week I sat with Marty as I always do when I am here. We talked and shared some unique time together and I always wish I had thought to record our different exchanges for others to hear. We may make a recording for woodworkingmasterclasses,com down the road so you can see what I mean.

DSC_0322Sitting in the quietness of the shop, as Marty and I discussed technique and tools and wood, I watched one of Marty’s sons whittling a character figure from some Balsa. I noticed his dexterity with his knife and saw just how much he was learning about grain from being there in the shop with his father guiding him. There is no other method for this in-depth understanding of wood and that’s why I encourage us all to engage young people this way. How old is he. He’s just ten I think. I remember my own sons doing the same at about the same age and I thought of how real this all is. CB12My boys are all grown men know, but they can all work with wood, make furniture, make instruments and build whatever they choose too. My new book will be on teaching young people to work with wood. It’s a curriculum for parents, children and young people. Perhaps we can see ways for getting our craft back on track. I know that with Marty being willing to share, it makes it all the more easy for us. Please visit Marty’s website and blog and tell me you don’t feel the hand of the craftsman in it here.

3 thoughts on “Interviewing Marty Macica – A Master of Stringed Instrument Making”

  1. I’m looking forward to the book you mentioned writing! Very much so. A curriculum for parents as teachers would be a blessing. The glint in either of my kids’ eye is like candy for my soul. They brighten up when i let them help me on some of my projects. My daughter is very creative, and my son just likes the tools, seeing their impact on a piece of wood. I do my best to show them, but honestly most of the hand tool world is new to me. They’re learning as I am, having a book from your experience would help tremendously in teaching them, help me keep their attentions focused. I dont want to be overbearing to them, but i want to nurture their curiosity when i see it.

  2. Hi Paul!
    I would like to build a ukulele for my sister for a wedding present.

    Any chance Marty Macica put this instrument making class online for purchase? Curious how one would bend wood without power. 🙂


    1. You certinly can bend wood without power. A heated pipe from a bow torch works well and so too even a clothes iron. Bending wood even through 3″ predates electricity but steam has been used for centuries.

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