Saga donates guitars to ETSU Bluegrass students

Reecently, the folks at Saga Musical Instruments and an anonymous local donor arranged for a pair of Blueridge guitars to be given to students enrolled in the Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music Studies program at East Tennessee State University.

Students were invited to apply to receive the guitars, explaining in an essay why it would be helpful in their studies. In the end, Spencer Hatcher and Emily Stoltzfus were selected, both minors in the bluegrass program. Emily received a BR 143 Historic Series 000, and Spencer the BR 240-A Prewar Series Dreadnaught. They each were also given a Paige capo.

Just as in jazz or classical music-oriented programs, where all students are expected to develop some facility with the piano, even bluegrass and old time students who are not guitar principals need to have familiarity with the guitar.

Spencer says that he has never had his own guitar before this.

“I am so excited and honored to have been selected to be a recipient of this Blueridge guitar. It means a lot to me to have my first ever guitar be this one, and am so thankful for the program set in place to allow students to have this opportunity.”

And Emily says that she will put hers to use right away.

“The Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music program at ETSU is filled with so many great musicians, so I was completely surprised when I was chosen to receive one of the guitars. This Blueridge guitar is a beautiful instrument and I am thankful that I will be able to use this gift as I continue to complete my degree and perform. Receiving this guitar is a memory that will stick with me throughout my life, and I’m thankful to the donor for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.”

The idea behind Blueridge Guitars is to make intermediate grade instruments available for serious students of traditional American music, utilizing economies of scale offered by Asian manufacturing. These are highly satisfying guitars to play, often built to the specifications of classic vintage pieces, but sold at a fraction of the price.

Susan Carson, who serves on the Development Council for the Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies program and interacts regularly with a variety of instrument manufacturers, says that the university deeply values their relationship with Saga.

“The folks at Saga and their contributions to our program have demonstrated their commitment to not only our program at ETSU, but to advancing the widespread growth of bluegrass music and the roots music of our great country. Richard Keldsen and David Gartland of Saga realize the importance of having fine instruments upon which to learn and perform. They have taken painstaking efforts to produce instruments that are as close as possible to the original ones that were used in the making of traditional American music. The opportunity to have a quality instrument is both inspiring and motivational. We, at ETSU, appreciate the Saga company and their ongoing interest in education provided at ETSU, the first and only 4 year university in the world to offer a dedicated and accredited major and minor and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music.”

For David Gartland, Marketing Director at Saga Musical Instruments, it is a proud thing to be involved in a giveaway like this.

“Saga Musical Instruments and Blueridge guitars is honored the be a partner with ETSU and its Appalachian Studies Department. We both share a a deep love for the music and the culture of the region, as well as the common goal of shining an even brighter light on traditional music and the instruments used to play it, the history that surrounds it, and how it shaped American culture from the very beginning.

Well done all, and congratulations to Emily and Spencer.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.