Eric O’Hara, Billy Samford, and the RQ Jones resophonic guitars

In an earlier article, John Lawless detailed the relationship between Rudy Jones and Billy Samford, and Billy keeping the Rudy Jones resophonic guitar line active following Rudy’s death in 2015. A few months ago I had a chance to meet Billy and check out his guitars.

On Friday morning of the Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival over New Years weekend, I heard some jamming, so I went exploring and met Billy. He requested that I take some pictures of his new resophonic guitar.

We agreed on Saturday morning, and he knocked on the camper door mid-morning. He had another gentleman with him who turned out to be Eric O’Hara. Who is Eric O’Hara, you might ask? He is the pedal steel player for the Gibson Brothers country band configuration. Eric Gibson said that O’Hara enjoyed playing out so much that he got a reso guitar, and now plays with the bluegrass band as well. That is only a small part of who he is.

O’Hara told me “the rest of the story.” Shortly after graduating from school, Eric went to work for a store near where the Gibsons lived in upstate New York. He described the store as one that sold the 4 Gs – gas, groceries, guns, and guitars. He said they still do. One day Eric and Leigh’s dad came into the store with the 12 and 11 year old brothers, bought a banjo and a guitar, and told them each to pick one. That would be what they were going to learn to play. Eric O’Hara became their teacher, which developed into a lifelong relationship.

Eric is the latest endorsee of RQ Jones guitars. He was picking up his new guitar from Billy. If you see Eric with the Gibson Brothers, you will know that he is the guy that taught them to play.

Billy is working on a new project. He has acquired an early Rudy Jones guitar made completely of walnut. He is going to build a series of these walnut guitars. Every inch of this guitar is being measured and detailed to make the new ones as identical to the old one as possible. He has even sourced walnut from the same area as the vintage guitar.

Keep an eye out for these special guitars. See them all on the RQ Jones web site.

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