George Benson on getting his first guitar

Now, A Jazz Moment?

MUSIC: "Body Talk," CD: The Essential George Benson, Columbia/Legacy 69699 85215 2 (disc 2, cut 2)

NEA Jazz Master George Benson is one of the most versatile guitarists around. He moves freely from swing to bop, R&B to pop ? on both electric and acoustic instruments. He remembers his very first electric guitar.

George Benson: My stepfather, after hearing me cry about owning an electric guitar and I saw one in a pawn shop, he said, "Well, let's go down and take a look at it." It cost $55, which was light years beyond anything we could-- we'd have to save six months to get 55 bucks, you know? And he saw it in the pawn-shop window. He said, "Man, you know, I could make that." And sure enough, we went home that night. I drew it on a brown piece of paper. He traced it onto my mother's hope chest, where you used to keep the blankets at the foot of the bed. And it took him a whole day to carve it out. We bought some coping saws. And he broke a lot of them, but he got the shape of the guitar, which I drew. And about three days later, we had an electric guitar. It cost us $23 worth of parts.

MUSIC: up and fades

This Jazz Moment with guitarist George Benson was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

George Benson on getting his first guitar