MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS

By Paul Moffett

Hascal Haile, noted Kentucky luthier, liked to work on his guitars in the middle of the night and sleep days. It kept interruptions to a minimum, according to Dr. Frank Pittman, but it made working with Haile a bit difficult.

Pittman, of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, spent six months studying guitar-making with Haile in 1970, including one six-week period when he essentially lived with Haile. Pittman presented a talk and slide show about his apprenticeship with Haile to the March 5 L.A.S.C. meeting.

Haile was not a formally trained luthier. His background was as a woodworker and he moved into guitar-making as an extension of that woodworking expertise. Pittman also followed the same path, meeting Haile by chance at a woodworking event and becoming good friends with him. That friendship and common interest in woodworking led to the apprenticeship.

Haile's methods were not always the "proper" ones. Instead, he built his guitars one at a time, by special order and developed techniques as he went along. Pittman took slides of the various stages of the process, initially just to reinforce his own learning. Later, the slides proved useful in teaching a course on guitar- making.

Invariably referring to Haile as "Mr. Haile," Pittman showed the entire process, from wood blanks to finished guitar. He also brought along parts of guitars, sliced into cross-sections to illustrate various points of the instrument He also had a cross-section of the body of the last instrument that Haile and superpicker Chet Atkins designed. The acoustic-electric instrument is manufactured by the Gibson guitar company and is sold under the model name Chet Atkins SST.

Pittman followed up his study with Hascal by offering a university course in guitar-making at Western Kentucky. There is a prerequisite of three semester hours in woodworking. He has offered the course each spring semester since 1971. This year is the first since the beginning that he did not have enough students register to teach the course.

Persons wishing further information about the guitar- making course should contact Dr. Frank Pittman, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101.