Something old, something new – a pair of guitars that pay tribute to two legendary bluegrass players… David Mead takes his pick
There’s a fascinating story attached to these guitars. We’ll cover the intricate details in our interview with maker Alister Atkin in a few pages’ time, but I’ll just skirt around the basic history behind these instruments before we look at them both in close-up detail.
The name “White Rice” came about because the guitars are modelled after the Martin D-28 that was once owned by Clarence White, a renowned bluegrass and country artist and at one time a member of the legendary Byrds. Sadly, Clarence passed away in a car accident in 1973, but his treasured Martin found its way into the hands of another famous player, Tony Rice – hence, “White Rice”. Tony is a Grammy Award winning guitarist whose playing career reads like a who’s who of country, having played with just about everyone including David Grisman, J D Crowe and even The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. So, as you’ve probably guessed, if that original D-28 could talk, it would have a lot of tales to tell!
UK maker Alister Atkin decided to build a special tribute to the celebrated guitar and do it in two different guises: one, a pristine dreadnought, the other a painstakingly wrought relic that mimics as near as dammit the look of Clarence White’s 1935 original Martin after its lifetime spent playing music.