December 11, 2013

Athens Luthier Scott Baxendale Chosen to Restore Elvis Presley's Guitars

baxendale elvis.jpeg

Incredibly cool news this week as local musician and master luthier Scott Baxendale, who runs Baxendale Guitar and also operates the Athens Luthier Academy for aspiring guitar-makers, has been commissioned to restore Elvis Presley's guitar collection, which is housed up at Graceland. (There he is above, holding the King's 1956 Gibson J-200.)

The story of how Baxendale came to score this very coveted gig is long and a bit convoluted, so let's let Flagpole columnist Gordon Lamb condense it down to its essentials:

According to reports, Buddy Miller’s mind was blown when he spied Lera Lynn’s Baxendale-crafted conversion guitar, after which Baxendale rebuilt a 1940s-era Kay guitar for Miller, which in turn led to guitarist Michael Lockwood (and his wife, Lisa Marie Presley) turning their eyes toward Baxendale. Long story short, Lockwood hired him to restore the King’s strings.

Baxendale says he will head up to Graceland in February to begin working on the collection. In other news, the luthier has also been selected as a finalist for the Rare Craft Fellowship Award, given by American Craft Magazine in conjunction with Balvenie Scotch, for "keeping traditional craft alive by building and teaching through my luthier school, the Athens Luthier Academy."

The awards ceremony is Feb. 4 in New York City. The winner of the award will travel to Scotland for a "two-week residency with the folks at Balvenie," which, drinking Scotch and playing guitar for two weeks—'cause that's what that means, right?—does not sound like a bad time at all.

Read our review of Baxendale and Jack Logan's recent collaborative record, Bones In the Desert.