Robert Mattingly Guitars

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Stephen Bell

Nov 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/28/99
Can anyone give me some general info on Robert Mattingly and his
guitars. I am looking into an older one built in the early 1980's.


Nov 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/28/99
In article <>, Stephen Bell

I have heard and played many Mattinglys, both cedar and
spruce topped and with Brazilian and Indian back and sides.
A respected professor of guitar at a nearby state university
recommended them to several students, which helped
popularize them. They are impressive guitars. The
craftmanship on all of them has been most outstanding. The
sound is excellent. Although I have "test driven" several
of them, I have not found a single dead note or a wolf tone.
They are remarkably easy to play, although I cannot
determine the reason for this. Perhaps there are
several reasons, including the extraordinary quality of his
ebony fingerboards. I have not heard of any that needed
repair due to cracking, etc., but know of one that was
refretted. I almost bought one, but instead bought
a 1991 Paul McGill. In speaking with Paul, he gave me some
background on Robert Mattingly. Mattingly died in 1991 or
1992. For a few years before his death, he suffered from
severe arthritis, which limited the use of his hands. He
continued building guitars even though it became
increasingly difficult and painful for him to hold and use
tools. The quality of his guitars did not suffer however.
For a few years after he died, completed guitars were sold
from his estate. I have seen them listed from $3,000 to
$5,000 in the past 3 or 4 years. A friend of mine owns one
and I have the "right of first refusal" on it in the event
that he ever decides to part with it. Good luck.

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John Grimes

Nov 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/28/99
Dear Stephen:

American Lutherie published an article upon his passing, unfortunately I
cannot lay my hands on that issue at this moment. You might check their
website for back issue contents.

I have never had the pleasure of playing one of his guitars but I have heard
they are quite fine concert instruments. As far as a secondary market value,
that is difficult to guage. Past sales will reflect what has been done
historically. I have data on specific makers, their guitars, price and
broker for the past six years or so, however, I can't lay my hands on that
information either. All good intentions, but I can't find any of it.

You might try GSI, CGI, Brune, Guitar Salon, or Rosewood Guitar for any
possible prices for his guitars. They have all sold examples of his work in
the past.

Hope this is of some help.

Best regards,

John Grimes

Stephen Bell wrote in message <>...

Raymond Knoff

Nov 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/29/99
I was a friend of Bob's, and have a couple of his guitars which he built
in 1990, one is spruce and the other cedar with quarter sawn brazilian
back and sides. Great sounding instruments and I have enjoyed playing
them. Bob lived in Long Beach and had a shop at his house where he did
his work. Bob died in 1991. If you have any specific questions I'll be
glad to help if I can.

By the way the Cedar top is for sale if you are interested.


Larry Deack

Nov 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/29/99
Stephen Bell wrote
> Can anyone give me some general info on Robert Mattingly and his
> guitars. I am looking into an older one built in the early 1980's.

Bob Mattingly was the first luthier to show me his shop back when he was
working at World of Strings in Long Beach California. He was unbelievably
kind and generous with his time since I was very new to CG at that time.
Even back then Bob had arthritis but he played a bit on an old beat up
guitar he had on the wall. Luthiers make magic with wood and I'm so happy
that there are so many good ones these days. I'll never forget Bob's lecture
at one of the GFA festivals. His colorful mix of Navy language and luthier
talk was so entertaining to listen to. I was so sorry to hear of his death.

A friend of mine has one of his guitars and I've played several others.
Very nice guitars but not what I was looking for.

Kuan Jin Teoh

Nov 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/30/99

My guitar teacher owned (and still owns I hope) Mattinglys, all of which
are strangely characterized by the use of red and green in the rosette.
They are wonderful sounding guitars. His "working" model had a naturally
aged shimmering spruce top the equal of which I've yet to see. I had on
occasion played it and it seemed very warm, rich, and quick. By quick I
mean both the action and the way the sound projects off the soundboard.
When playing arpeggios the notes are distinct yet finely intermeshed
without causing any strange harmonics. They are awesome instruments. I
think the one my teacher brought to work everyday should now be about 18
years old.If you could somehow not hear the attack you would think you
were listening to a bowed string instrument.


Oct 26, 2014, 1:09:12 PM10/26/14
I was fortunate enough to hang around World of Strings in the early '70s when I got out of the Navy and was living in Long Beach. Bob Mattingly was both a superb craftsman and a gracious host to anyone visiting his shop. Bob studied the physics of musical instruments, and applied his knowledge to the instruments--both guitars and lutes--that he made, which is why they sound and play so superbly. I had the great good fortune one day to have him explain why lutes had fallen out of favor (compared to guitars, they were quiet), and then have him pick up and play one of his lutes. Built to his own design based on his studies, that thing had all the power and volume of a quality 12-string guitar--perhaps more. Bob made, if I recall correctly, about 25 instruments a year, and all were lovingly made. I did some black and white photography of him in the shop and presented him with a couple of 16 x 20 prints. In return, he replaced the original, worn-out tuners on my 1964 Martin 00-21NY (which had made a couple of deployments to Vietnam with me), gratis. Those tuners are still in place and are a wonderful reminder, every time I pick it up (these days I usually have to pry it out of my wife's hands!), of a warm and gracious man and an amazing craftsman.

John Snyder

hank alrich

Oct 27, 2014, 12:46:43 AM10/27/14
There is an R L Mattingly hanging for sale at Luke Wilson's Wolf Note
Studios in Nevada City CA. Seems quite a nice instrument.

shut up and play your guitar * HankAlrich.Com

Jan 10, 2018, 2:10:11 AM1/10/18
On Sunday, November 28, 1999 at 1:00:00 AM UTC-7, Stephen Bell wrote:
> Can anyone give me some general info on Robert Mattingly and his
> guitars. I am looking into an older one built in the early 1980's.
> Thanks.

I knew Bob from the very early 60's while stationed with him aboard the USS Frontier AD-25. While deployed to Hawaii he would spend most all of his off duty time in the Ford Island base wood shop building guitars. Always a very gracious guy willing to talk guitars as he worked and even occasionally play when asked. Very sorry to hear of his passing.


Jan 10, 2018, 9:06:59 PM1/10/18
Hi Kuan! Just in case you're still around and not dead, I have to say that you're the first guy I've heard that has described a top as "shimmering." I too have seen this effect - little fleck of color sparkling off the top. It's a most wondrous sight to behold but nobody else seems to have observed it. Shit, I'll probably die without any explanation of the physics of this phenomenon.

Mar 3, 2020, 4:39:19 AM3/3/20
Robert was a friend of my sisters and gave her a 1971, #99, Brazilian rosewood back but the sides look different and the front and neck are of different wood as well. My sister died in 1982 in a car accident and I have been blessed to play this instrument. If anyone could just help me with how much it might be worth I’d be ever so happy. It’s in its original case from World of Strings and had his label, seal and signature. Thank you. Robin


Mar 3, 2020, 12:20:32 PM3/3/20
I don't know anything about this guitar but the guys at
(877-771-4321) might be able to give you a rough idea.

Aug 18, 2020, 12:56:18 AM8/18/20
I met Bob at the wood shop on Ford Island in '63 when he was headed home aboard the USS Frontier. He was building a card table, a gift for his wife. We became fast friends and he even taught me some basic CG. He took a liking to my Sony reel to reel recorder and offered to trade me his #14 for it. I quickly agreed and still have it today. He was a great artist/craftsman and a pretty doggone generous and wonderful guy. I was shaken when I learned of his untimely death. Nobody knows of the debilitating pain the of RA, but one who has it.
Did Bob ever tell you how he came to build his first payable guitar?
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